Here’s an analogy from everyday life to help make understanding your metabolism easier.
Imagine metabolism as the process used to build a house. Imagine that house is you. Let’s imagine you’re building your super dreamy dream house.
You want it to be intelligently designed, strong and resilient to withstand the elements, easy to maintain, able to age gracefully, beautiful to behold and capable of handling all the activities that need to take place within.
Your metabolism is the process that does exactly that for your body. It is always working hard. It functions on autopilot.
When we are small and fast growing, our metabolism follows the instructions in our genomic DNA code.
Just like an architect and construction team that follow a well-designed blueprint, your metabolism builds your body according to its own unique blueprint. This is the blueprint that was created by your ancestors.
Yet, it is ever evolving.
Even though your genomic DNA is a very powerful force in dictating the size, shape and structure of your “building,” the materials you use to build it have a significant influence on its condition and performance.
For your dreamy dream home are you using sturdy building materials such as wood, steel, granite, or marble? Or do you use plastic and wood chips that may crack or crumble easily over time? You get the idea!
Your metabolism is an ongoing and dynamic process.
It’s operating 24 hours a day for your entire life. No down time. No holidays or vacations. It’s all work, work, work.
It mediates the interaction between your genomic DNA blueprint that you are born with and how you choose to live in today’s environment.
You can help it build the best you by understanding how your blueprint is designed. By providing it with the right materials, i.e. nutrients, and by moving your body in the right way at the right time, you are helping your metabolism build a healthier you.
Your metabolism is unique to you.
There are thousands of short to long chains of metabolic reactions that happen every moment..
When you sit down, rest, and eat, molecular reactions will turn on and off. When you exercise, lots of biochemical reactions will be elevated to support your performance.
This is your metabolism at work.
Your metabolic system is intelligent and adaptable.
It has evolved over millions of years by responding to important signals from our environment. It makes decisions whether or not to adapt to our environment by making changes in our genomic code to better insure our survival.
Genes are selfish.
Their only job is to help the body live.
They drive every molecular decision, cellular decision, tissue, organ, and system decision to make your body as efficient as possible.
The science of metabolism develops naturally in all biological systems. It makes compounds so the body does not have to rely on an array of external sources for generating the energy and the building blocks necessary to maintain a healthy body.
Over time, this process has become both complex and efficient.
What influences the science of metabolism?
If we look at the science of metabolism in its most basic form, there are really three major areas that impact or influence your metabolic rate.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) influences your metabolic processes.
The first one is called basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This is what’s going on in your body when you are just sleeping and when you first wake up.
It is the bare minimum amount of energy that you have to burn in order to keep yourself alive. Sometimes, you will see it called resting metabolic rate. If you’re just sitting quietly when you’re watching TV or reading a book, you don’t have a lot of activity. That example might be a little bit more realistic to use versus BMR for most of us.
Basal metabolic rate accounts for anywhere from 50%-80% of your body need of food for fuel. You are building new tissue, making hormones and engaging in protein turnover.
That is the largest component of what your body is doing to burn energy.
The thermic effect of food influences your metabolic processes.
Another component of what controls your metabolic rate is actually just processing the food you eat. The technical term for this is called the thermic effect of food.
This refers to how your body digests, absorbs and assimilates all the fat, carbohydrates, and protein you consume. This counts for about 10% of the energy you require.
A lot of people find the thermic effect of food pretty fascinating. Different meal compositions can impact how you are processing calories just by the types of food you’re eating the timing and the order in which you eat them.
Your body prefers to store energy as fat. So, you’re really good at storing it in your body just in case you need it during times of famine or starvation. That process might bump up the thermic effect of food by 5- 15%, depending on whether you’re somebody who has a harder time processing carbohydrates or your body’s really good at processing them.
Protein bumps up the thermic effect of food from 20–35%. That doesn’t mean I’d advise you to jump into a high protein diet. That would be really hard on your kidneys.
Physical activity influences your metabolic processes.
Physical activity can include walking, running, gardening, chasing after your dog or grands.
It can be any type of intentional physical activity. Exercise, especially resistance training, can increase your lean muscle mass, leading to an increase in your metabolic rate.
It can also include non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This includes physical activities like fidgeting, standing, or other movements in the course of daily living. I’m thinking of myself as engaging in NEAT as I type on my computer keyboard writing this blog post.
Other factors can influence your metabolic rate.
One such factor is lean body mass. Muscle, and anything that is not fat tissue, can be considered lean body mass.
The other one is fat tissue. Fat is now considered an endocrine organ. It can produce different hormones which play a role in your metabolism.
But just because somebody is a larger person, that doesn’t automatically mean they have a slower metabolic rate.
They might have a really high level of lean body mass. Athletes are a really great example. They have so much more muscle that they’re burning many more energy compared to somebody that is half their size. I’m positive that Serena Williams heaps a lot more food on her plate than I do!
Genes and aging play a role in your metabolism.
When you were a growing baby, you had a really high metabolic rate. Babies eat all day long so they can grow. They’re constantly processing energy.
Your metabolism tended to be higher throughout your teenage years until around age 20 when it started to level off. And that’s when the gradual decline begins.
By the time you’re in your late 30s, there’s an even steeper decline.
We often associate weight gain with age. And rightly so. Different things are happening in our bodies as we age. As a woman, when your estrogen levels go down, that effects your metabolism.
There can also be a dysregulation of other hormones, including hunger-signaling hormones leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin tells your body that you have enough energy onboard to help prevent overeating. Ghrelin, its opposite number, is the hunger hormone that tells your body you need to eat.
Some of the weight gain we associate with aging isn’t so much about hormones but about decreased movement and living a more sedentary life.
Genetics, diseases, medications, weight, and diet history also affect your metabolism.
Your dieting and weight loss/gain history affects your metabolism and weight.
Many of us think about our weight when we think about the science of metabolism.
And that’s for good reason! Your weight does have a big influence onyour metabolism, especially when it comes to your weight loss and gain history.
We know all to well how yo-yo dieting or crash dieting is a recipe for gaining back the weight we lost, and then some.
These kind of weight loss strategies actually slow your metabolism due to calorie restriction. Your smart body’s innate design to conserve energy when it senses food insecurity kicks in. Hello slower metabolism.
They scare your body into reverting to survival mode, storing more energy for the famine to come. Hello weight gain.
When it comes to weight and the science of metabolism, we are all unique.
We are all different in our weight, our muscle mass, our different genetics, our different bodies. That’s important for all of us to learn and accept.
We cannot compare ourselves to our family members, friends or colleagues.
Even if you’re doing the exact same amount of activity, others may need to eat more or less than you do maintain a healthy weight and feel good.
Compare and despair.
Here are the biggest takeaways when it comes to metabolic science.
- Basal metabolic rate is an important metric for understanding the basic level of a person’s metabolism. It’s tightly linked to your lean mass, not so much to your fat mass. To keep your basal metabolic rate at the levels you want it to be, the types of exercise you do makes a difference.
- Maintain your muscle mass. Resistance training, cardiovascular, or aerobic exercise is great. It’s good for your heart and circulation. But exercise can never out perform a poor diet.
- Resist drastically cutting your calories by going on crash diets or fad diets. Your body, when it is undergoing what it considers starvation, can drastically lower your metabolic rate in the hope that you’ll stay alive.
- What, when and how you eat impacts your metabolism.
- Stay well hydrated. Your metabolic process can’t happen unless you are hydrated.
- Fuel your body with whole foods that provide energy.
Ask yourself these questions to keep yourself focused.
- Am I moving more or less?
- Am I feeling energized or sluggish?
- How are my food choices and portion sizes correlating with weight gain or loss?
- What next steps can I take to adjust my food plan, the frequency of exceptions?
Work with me to create a satisfying eating plan in alignment with metabolic science.
Please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call so you can get started making positive changes today.
Making a few strategic shifts right now can be the first falling domino you need to make many more lasting changes your reality.
We can discuss best next steps so you can see for yourself how you can jump start weight loss. By intentionally incorporating a variety of helpful habits and strategies into your daily routines, you can improve your metabolic function.
Then you’ll be able to reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
Hey, my friend, it’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself because you reached out to me today.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
It’s Never Too Late to make your weight loss journey easier. Let’s get going!
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