Weekly Wellness: The importance of metabolism
COLUMBIA - It’s a topic we have discussed before. Metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.
It's true that metabolism is linked to weight. But contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Although your metabolism influences your body's basic energy needs, how much you eat and drink along with how much physical activity you get are the things that ultimately determine your weight.
Here are some basic things to consider when preparing to make fitness and body weight changes:
1. Know your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the amount of energy your body needs to keep functioning while at rest throughout the day. You can find a basic calculator here (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm) to get a general idea of your BMR, but note that this is only an estimate based on factors like age and weight.
2. Know your body composition. It is possible to weigh a “normal” weight and yet still have an unhealthy body-fat percentage. A body composition assessment can give you a better idea of your body-fat percentage and total muscle mass, and even a breakdown of visceral fat percentage. Some fitness facilities and medical offices offer this type of service. Devices are also available for home use, but tend to be somewhat less accurate.
3. Know your daily total caloric intake, including the specific breakdown of major nutrients, such as fat, carbohydrates and protein.
4. Keep a two-week journal of your actual exercise, eating, drinking and sleeping habits. This process can help identify the areas where you’re doing well and those that may present potential problems.
To use the metabolism factor to your advantage to reach your fitness goals, here are some basic tips to consider implementing:
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can negatively impact your metabolism.
- Eat regular meals. Having smaller meals or healthy snacks every three to four hours helps keep your metabolism burning calories throughout the day.
- Build muscle. Even while at rest, your body burns calories. Every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to exist.
- Be physically active. The more active you are throughout the day, the more energy your body burns.
- Add some aerobic workouts with a higher intensity. This provides a steady and more long-lasting rise in resting metabolic rate.
- Eat balanced meals. It is essential for overall health and better fitness to balance your meals and eat good, organic and nutritious food. Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does while digesting carbohydrates or fat.
- Do NOT skip meals or lower your caloric intake to below 1,200 calories for women or 1,800 calories for men (these numbers are basic guidelines and may vary for each person). Skipping meals and fasting for long periods of times slows down your metabolism.
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
- Sleep seven to eight hours per night.
Turning these tips into daily habits is a great way to give your metabolism a boost and enhance your ability to meet your health and fitness goals. You may also benefit from working with a personal trainer, who can design a specific exercise regimen that your body responds to positively. Regardless of where you are in your health and fitness journey, don’t despair—get up, get moving and give your metabolism the boost you need to start seeing results.