We often hear about how we can boost our metabolism, kick start it and speed it up. It’s a weight loss buzz word that holds all the answers to our weight loss success but what is metabolism and do we actually have any control over it?
What is metabolism?
Your metabolism is simply the name for the sum of all the chemical processes your body goes through to maintain life. When you are at rest, energy is used to build up and breakdown compounds within the body and to keep systems such as the respiratory and circulatory systems functioning. The body of every individual works through these processes at a different rate, this is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Metabolic processes within the body are responsible for the majority of our energy expenditure.
Can we influence our metabolism?
There are a lot of myths out there regarding metabolism, such as the time of day you consume food has an effect on how the food is metabolised or that eating and drinking different foods or taking supplements may “boost” your metabolism. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as popping a pill or adding powder to your drink.
Genetics play the biggest role in the variations between individual metabolic rates. For example taller people will have a higher BMR than shorter people and men will have a higher rate than females due to a higher percentage of lean body mass (muscle, bone and water). Increasing lean muscle mass is one of the only known ways that we can influence BMR since muscle is more metabolically active than fat. While some foods may have a very minor and temporary affect on your metabolic rate, it is not enough to counteract the effects of excessive energy intake.
The take home message
At the end of the day it really does come down in large to genetics, but for those wanting a metabolic boost, increasing your muscles mass through weight baring exercises and interval training is the only sure fire way to have any meaningful effect. It’s best to ignore the myths and leave those “too good to be true” sounding products on the shelf.
This article was written by Katherine Ramsden, nutritionist at Nutrition Force.
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