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Feb 26, 2011

What is the Metabolism and how can you increase, speed up or boost your metabolism?

Virtually everyone knows that your metabolism is connected to fat burning, and thus an increased metabolism means that your fat is being burned at a higher rate.
A wide array of herbal diet pills which all claim to be able to increase your metabolism to burn fat has flooded the market – even while you sleep! To be able to discern the veracity of these claims, it is important to understand what your metabolism actually is.
Generally speaking, your metabolism is a mechanism that runs 24/7 and it oversees the creation and distribution of hormones, a host of other bodily functions, and also the usage of fat for fuel. Exercise is known to increase your metabolism in the short term – during the exercise activity itself – as well as in the long term, long after the exercise activity has ceased. Thus, the metabolism of a resting person who regularly exercises burns more fat – even when the person sleeps – than the metabolism of a person who does not exercise. By and large, a man’s metabolism is higher than a woman, but with exercise being the great equalizer, this does not always hold true. The muscle to fat ratio dictates your metabolism, which in turn will determine the fuel usage of your body overall as well as its lack of fat storage. A low metabolism tends to conserve more fat than a high metabolism.  Granted, genetics do factor into metabolism to a certain degree, but considering the fact that you can control the increase in your own metabolism does away with the notion that you are at the mercy of your genetic makeup.
Five truths and myths about metabolism are most noteworthy in this discussion:
  1. Your metabolism is slowed down as you age. This is not entirely true. Instead, it is the loss of lean muscle mass that slows down the metabolism. Lean muscle mass, in turn, is lost when exercise is stopped – as often happens when people age. While they still eat the same amount of food, the exercise is decreased, and the result is fat storage, which in turn further slows down the metabolism. Fight this trend by not giving up your exercise as you age – a doctor can recommend age and health appropriate exercises – and also use a resistance training workout to preserve your lean muscle mass.
  2. Morning exercise will lead to an increased metabolism for the entire day.Wish that it were true! While the old comic routine of the man jumping out of bed and doing some knee bends is a great standby, the fact of the matter dictates that the time of day you choose for your exercise really does not matter as much as the fact that you exercise at all. There is no perfect time to exercise, and no time that will predispose your body to burn more fat than another. On the other hand, morning workouts have their advantages. By and large, if you start your day with exercise, you are more likely to continue your daily regimen than if you are trying to fit it in elsewhere into your busy day – more often than not you will realize at bedtime that you were just too busy to fit it in!
  3.  You can boost your metabolism if you eat within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise routine. It is unclear where this notion originated, but the fact of the matter is that a meal within that time period has no effect on your overall metabolic rate. A healthy snack after completion of your exercise will, however, stabilize your glycogen levels and also help your body to recover from the stress of the exercise.
  4. Boost your overall metabolism’s functionality with daily exercise. Yes, it is true that your metabolism will be raised up slightly even after you have finished exercising. To put it in perspective, keep in mind that resistance training may burn off – as a carry over – 50 more calories, while aerobic exercise’s carry over translates to about an extra 25 to 30 calories. This alone will not cause you to loose weight, but when combined with a fat burning exercise that precedes the carry over, you are sure to be on your road to weight loss!
  5. Eating after 8:00 PM is discouraged for those looking to lose weight. This requires a yes and no answer. Technically speaking, it does not matter when you stop consuming calories if you are adhering to a weight loss plan or if you are working on boosting your metabolism. A healthy snack – an apple, a banana, or something similar – after 8:00 PM is fine. On the other hand, sitting in front of the television set with a beer and a bag of Doritos will undo a whole day worth of dieting! Lean to differentiate between true hunger – which may be sated with a cheese stick – and boredom which is looking for some chips or nachos. The latter may be sated with some light housecleaning, filing, or reading.

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