This time of year you start to hear a lot about avoiding holiday weight gain. We all know the tricks – Everything in moderation, drink lots of water, eat your veggies first, etc.
Still, it’s the holidays and most of us aren’t going to do any of that. Instead of feeling guilty about it, turn it around and look for simple ways to keep your metabolism going throughout the season. Sometimes it’s all about maintaining where you are.
When we talk about metabolism, what we are usually referring to is your Basal Metabolic Rate or your BMR.
Your metabolism refers to a complex series of chemical processes that convert food into energy as well as establishing the rate at which your body burns calories. Ultimately, your metabolism is responsible for how quickly or easily you gain and lose weight.
To get a bit more specific, these metabolic processes require energy.
They build up tissues, break down tissues and provide fuel for energy. The way we measure these metabolic processes is in calories per day. In other words, it’s the number of calories you body expends every day to keep you functioning and alive. Your total energy expenditure or TEE.
Your TEE is made up of three elements those being: BMR, Thermic effect of Food (TEF) and Thermic effect
of activity (TEA).
So it looks like this: TEE = BMR + TEF + TEA
If we understand each of these elements it enables us to manipulate each of them to our calorie burning
advantage depending on our individual goals.
One of the key things to understand is which has the most effect on our TEE. The breakdown is as follows:
• BMR represents about 60-75% of your TEE
• TEF represents about 10% of your TEE
• TEA represents about 30% of your TEE
Can You Increase Your Metabolism?
You may have heard all kinds of (ridiculous) things that could increase your metabolism. Things like eating spicy foods, drinking green tea or dousing your foods with hot sauce. Those things may give your metabolism a little boost, but it won’t last, so you can stop killing yourself with spicy things.
What does work?
Muscle is your body’s main source for burning fat. Think of muscle like the furnace in your basement heating your entire house. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn all day, without even trying.
You don’t have to work like a bodybuilder to build muscle. Just try lifting weights 2-3 times a week. A simple total body workout will do to get you started.
Eating Protein on a Regular Basis
Your body works harder to break down protein than it does to break down fat and carbs, so the more you eat, the more calories you burn while digesting your meals. That doesn’t mean you want to go too crazy. You do still need fat and complex carbs to function well.
Contact me today if you need help getting enough protein into your day – I have the perfect solutions.
Eating Smaller, More Frequent Meals
There’s some evidence that eating more frequently will also increase your TEE while skipping meals has the opposite effect. Skipping meals or not eating enough actually slows down your metabolism, which is why it’s so important to eat regularly throughout the day. This is tapping into the thermic effect of food but remember it’s only represents about 10% of your metabolism.
High Intensity Interval Training
Finally, one other thing that can increase your BMR is HIIT. This type of training takes you well out of your comfort zone, at least for short periods of time, and doing that taxes your body to the point where you burn extra calories after your workout just to bring your body back to its normal state.
You don’t need to do HIIT every day – In fact, that’s a bad idea because it can lead to injury, burnout and over training. However, doing it a couple of times a week is a great way to work on that metabolism.
High intensity exercise is great, of course, but any kind of cardio can help boost your metabolism. If you’re too busy for a workout, try a few short, brisk walks throughout the day to keep that blood pumping.
American Council on Exercise. ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 5th Edition. San Diego: American Council on Exercise, 2014. p. 334
Kelly, Mark P., Ph.D. “Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It-And Raise It, Too.” American Council on Exercise. ACE.