What is Metabolism

LYB ad 12What is Metabolism?

We all know that a slow metabolism is not a good thing but what does it really mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Mothers can experience fluctuations  in metabolism throughout the stages of motherhood. During pregnancy,  most mums will have a 15 – 20 %  increase in metabolism as the baby grows.  Then after birth, if breastfeeding, the body can use an extra 300-500 calories of energy a day for milk production.   (That’s why It’s important not to severely restrict calories during this phase but to ensure your nutritional requirements are met with a healthy variety of whole foods, vegetables and lean meats.)

Your Metabolism involves :

* the physical activities you do
* the body’s automatic functions like your heart beating, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.)
* and storage of excess energy for later

Everybody has a different metabolic rate or how fast these processes happen – and it is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

* Exercise (physical movement)
* Heat (generated from the body’s biochemical reactions)
* Storage (leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat)

So the more calories you burn as exercise/physical movement or creating heat, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

Metabolic Rate:

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell…..a lot!  The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too!  Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!  As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re resting.

This is exactly why strength training is key to a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you!  Our online Love Your Body Program is starting soon and has the perfect mix of strength training exercise to boost your lean muscle mass.  Or check out a Mummylicious session.

The thing is, when people lose weight by dieting alone, their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass and a good exercise program.

Aerobic and anaerobic exercise (especially workouts like Fit HIIT) also increase your metabolic rate during and after the workout. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”and the post exercise effect of High Intensity Interval Training will keep you burning calories long after the workout finishes.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!  Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).  You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.  Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

So this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.  For more tips on how to make lifestyle adjustments to increase and improve your metabolism with exercise and diet register for our 10 Week Challenge – it includes family-friendly meal plans, lots of info on what, how and when to eat for weight loss, home workouts, online support and motivation and so much more to help you lead a healthy balanced super mummy life!


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