Bryan Harris | The care and feeding of your metabolism

Your metabolism is the sum of processes in which cells produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life.
St. John's Morning Show columnist Bryan Harris says paying attention to metabolism is important. (CBC)

Your metabolism is the sum of processes in which cells produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life.

Your metabolism consists of involuntary muscle contractions, such as your heart and diaphragm, but the majority of your metabolism is derived from skeletal muscle movement.

Your metabolic rate is the number of calories needed by a human to maintain life.  

Men, generally, have a higher metabolism than women. From a genetic point of view, men tend to have more muscle mass, which boosts their metabolism.

There are items on the market today that claim to boost metabolism. Many of these products have central nervous system stimulants that raise your heart and breathing rate. This will only account for a slight increase in metabolism and many are considered dangerous.

There are many formulas to calculate metabolism but I found this web site quick and easy to use. Enter your age, height, weight and gender.

Starting at age 25 your metabolism could decline five to 10 per cent per decade.  However, there are ways to prevent this reduction in metabolism.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast, or "breaking your fast," is the most important meal of your day. Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism, beginning your energy burn for the day. By skipping breakfast, your body goes into "starvation mode," burning fewer calories than usual to conserve energy and storing more of its energy as fat.

Move More, Eat Less 

Think about your metabolism as a fire, and food is the wood that feeds the fire. Throwing too much wood on the fire at once smothers it, while not putting enough wood on it causes it to die out. However, throwing smaller portions of wood on the fire constantly throughout the day keeps it roaring. Eat several smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three large meals.

Get Plenty of Aerobic Exercise 

Sweat! Aerobic activity boosts your metabolism. Even better, if you do it earlier in the morning, your metabolism will be slightly elevated throughout the day, which adds up over time. 

Pick Up the Weights!

Resistance training builds muscle, and muscles consume calories even while you are at rest. This is perhaps one of the best ways to increase your metabolism. Resistance training has many overall health benefits, such as reducing the occurrence of injuries by strengthening your bones, tendons and ligaments. 

Don't Starve Yourself

Don't get carried away with trying to lose fat! It is a slow process and you shouldn't lose more than one to two pounds per week. To burn one pound of fat per week, you need to achieve a 3,500 calorie per week deficit, or 500 calories per day.  Going too far and starving yourself, or going well below your recommended daily calorie consumption, will send your body into the "starvation mode". In "starvation mode," your body will resort to burning muscle rather than fat, further slowing down your metabolism over the long run.

Get Enough Sleep

Short changing yourself in the sleep area is one quick way to decrease metabolism.  Get enough shut-eye.

Drink Plenty of Water

The importance of water consumption cannot be stressed enough. Your body needs water all day long to properly burn energy. Drink a glass of water with each meal and keep a bottle next to you all day long.  Drink enough water per day to keep your pee clear and this will keep your metabolism fired up.

Til next time,

About the Author

Bryan Harris

As an employee, health and wellness educator, Bryan has initiated dozens of programs and courses.


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