The human body is an amazing thing. So much so that it can adapt, under all sorts of extremes, for survival better than any other species known to man.
This ability to adapt means that if food is in short supply, our metabolic processes may need to change slightly to accommodate the reduction in fuel and ultimately our survival.
But what exactly is our ‘metabolism’?
Our metabolism is colloquially thought of as our resting metabolic rate (RMR) OR the energy our body uses to stay alive while sedentary. This RMR accounts for about 70% of our calorie needs, with our daily activities making up, most of, the remaining 30%.
Our metabolism is affected by many variables including age, gender, genetics and lifestyle but interestingly, although there are people with faster than average metabolisms their advantage isn’t as overwhelming as you’d think. (96% of people stay within 200–300 kcal of the average RMR).
In our modern world, where food is often not in short supply, having a slow metabolism is often blamed as being the cause of weight gain (or at least the inability to easily lose weight). Obesity (contrary to popular belief) is actually associated with a high metabolic rate as more energy is required to do just about everything, from walking around to sitting and breathing.
True reduction in metabolic rate is typically caused by low thyroid hormones, chronic dieting (which in and of itself can also affect thyroid hormones), and certain medications.
** The thyroid gland is the ‘master control gland,’ which helps to regulate many hormonal functions many of which directly impact the metabolic rate.
So what are some signs that you may have a ‘slower’ than normal metabolism?
- Difficulty loosing or maintaining weight
- Tired and fatigued
- Menstrual problems
- Dull skin and poor hair growth
- Decreased mojo
- Foggy head
While it’s not the end of the world if you have a slow metabolism, it’s good to know so you know how to take care of your body. If you want to boost your metabolism, try to drink a lot of water, exercise, and get your thyroid checked. Your doctor will be able to tell you if your thyroid is slowing your metabolism down.
Looking to speed things up?
- Exercise- both cardiovascular exercise and resistance exercise can help to not only rev your metabolic engine, but keep it revved for many hours after you stop.
- Incidental activity- anything which raises your temperature will help raise your metabolic rate. Standing or even fidgeting instead of sitting still can burn an additional 200-700 kcals per day.
- Hydration – hydrating is also vital for metabolism. Drinking plenty of water is essential in assisting the digestive process in breaking down nutrients and processing them effectively.
- Food- The best way to make sure your body burns fat efficiently is by following a sensible (balanced) eating regimen. Eating regularly gives your body the correct signal to continue to burn fuel at a consistent rate. It allows us energy to mentally and physically perform at our best as well as provides us with all the micronutrients and vitamins needed for the enzyme processes essential to keep our metabolism firing. While there are ‘metabolic supplements’ available there’s no substitute for a balanced diet full of a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Once again, consistency truly is the key.
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