As I approach another birthday, I am reminded that it gets harder to maintain body weight and size as we age. The same diet plan or exercise regimen will not yield the same results as it did when I was in my twenties.
When I was a personal trainer, my clients often asked me how they could increase or boost their metabolism. The key to maintaining your figure depends on many factors, including doing the right kind of exercise with the right frequency, getting enough rest, and eating a clean diet low in starchy carbohydrates. Aside from these factors, metabolism–the natural rate at which calories are burned–is an important factor. Here is an explanation of what your metabolism is, and the role metabolism plays in your quest for fitness and weight-loss or maintenance.
Metabolism is the rate that your body uses energy. Your metabolism determines how quickly you burn fuel, or calories that come from food. While inactive, your body burns a mixture of carbohydrates and fat. BMR is your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is basically how many calories you burn while you sleep. This is the minimum amount of calories your body needs to carry out basic functioning.
Muscle burns the most fat while the body is at rest, more than other organs in the body. So, BMR is partly a reflection of a person’s percentage of fat-free mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories (fat) you’ll burn at rest. For this reason, men generally have higher metabolisms than women. Other factors affecting metabolism are: aging (caused primarily by muscle loss), as body temperature increases, metabolism generally increases, stress, and hormones. The closer I get to middle age, the more I value anything that will prevent the signs of aging. Although I am naturally muscular, I make sure to do at least two strength training sessions per week.
An individual’s metabolism can range drastically from one person to the next. A small, frail person with little to no muscle mass might only burn 1,200 k/cal a day. On the other hand, a large athlete engaging in intense training (NFL players for example) twice a day in practice, could easily burn up to 10,000 k/cal a day!
Blaming your metabolism is a poor excuse for being out of shape and overweight. The good news is, there are ways to boost your metabolism. Genetically, I am not a thin person. I have always had to work at maintaining my ideal body weight, and I have found that consistent exercise is the best way. The body not only burns calories during exercise, but stays in an elevated fat-burning mode for a period of time after you’ve finished. Strength train to gain muscle and increase your lean body mass. Eat enough lean protein and fresh veggies to keep your blood sugar level and metabolism steady. Using portion control and eating 4-5 small meals a day (5-6 for men wanting to see big muscle gains) can also keep your body in a constant fat-burning state.
Best Wishes in Your Quest for Fitness,