We walk and we walk. We could walk from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and still not lose that extra 10 pounds — at least, that’s how it seems. If you’ve hit a plateau in your weight-loss program, here are some tips to get more burn from your workout.
Boosting your metabolism is the secret, says Katie Heimburger, an exercise physiologist in Atlanta. What exactly is metabolism? It’s the amount of energy — in the form of calories — that we burn during the day.
Sure, we burn calories when we run or walk. But we also burn calories when we sit at the computer or TV, even when we sleep — what’s referred to as “resting metabolic rate.”
Tip #1: Build muscle mass. When you increase your muscle mass, you boost your resting metabolism — and that makes your body burn more calories, says Heimburger. “That’s why we recommend adding weight training to an exercise program.”
Some examples: using hand weights to do bicep curls, using weight machines at a gym, even doing specific calisthenics like push-ups and abdominal crunches. “If you’re building strength, you are losing weight,” she explains.
Any kind of strength training is going to increase muscle mass, agrees Jamey McGee, fitness director at Wellness Center at Meadowmont, part of the University of North Carolina Healthcare System in Chapel Hill.
“That’s why we have classes like yoga and pilates, to strengthen your body,” she tells WebMD. “Pilates is about strengthening the core of your body — your back, your abdomen. Some forms of yoga have a similar effect.”
Heimburger recommends weight training twice a week. One advisory: “I don’t recommend carrying weights or wearing ankle weights while you’re walking. Adding weights could damage your joints. Weights should only be used when you’re standing still.”
A personal trainer or exercise physiologist can also set you up with a well-balanced strength-training program that targets the major muscle groups, Heimburger adds.
Tip #2: Get plenty of cardiovascular exercise. There’s no getting around it — the biggest burn comes from cardiovascular exercise, she tells WebMD. That means running, hiking, walking, cycling, taking aerobics classes, dancing, kickboxing, or using cardio machines at a gym, anything that gets your heart rate up.
Recently we received the following question from a reader: “I’ve always thought that adding muscle speeds up your metabolism. But then I read this isn’t correct. So what’s the truth: Does increasing your muscle mass really increase your metabolism?” -Phil, Vancouver
For as long as I can remember, a lot of people have believed that for every 1 pound of muscle you gain, your body burns an additional 50 calories. On paper, this sounds awesome. But unfortunately, it’s not true.
- Does Increasing Muscle Mass Increase Metabolism?
- But Here’s The Good News
- More Muscle Moving Means More Calories Burned Faster
- The Takeaway
- Metabolism Myths: Part 1
- The Metabolism Myth You Probably Believed
- Myth 1: Adding muscle mass dramatically increases daily caloric burn
- How many calories can your body really burn without moving?
- The best way to build muscle mass and get the biggest metabolic boost: Perform compound movements and lift heavy.
- Strength training is amazing for your health and overall fitness. Building muscle might not boost your metabolism very much, but that shouldn’t discourage you from lifting weights.
- What Exactly is Metabolism?
- How to Boost Your Metabolism
- The Bottom Line
- How to boost your metabolism
- What is metabolism?
- Why would you want to raise yours?
- Is it actually possible to change your metabolism?
- Why do metabolisms vary from person to person?
- The Metabolism-Boosting Workout
- Ways to Increase Metabolism
- Boost metabolism naturally using Shape’s top ten tips.
- Strength Training
- Aerobic Exercise
- Metabolism: Popular Myths And 9 Easy Ways To Rev It Up!
- What Is Metabolism?
- Metabolism Myths
- Ways To Increase Your Metabolism
- 1. Do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
- 2. Lift Weights
- 3. Build Muscle
- 4. Eat Protein
- 5. Eat 5-6 small meals a day
- 6. Eat real food
- 7. Drink water
- 8. Drink green tea
- 9. Don’t stress
- Resistance Training and Metabolism
- The Effects of Resistance, Endurance and Concurrent Training on Metabolic Rate
- Increasing Your Metabolism Through Resistance Training
- The Bottom Line?
Does Increasing Muscle Mass Increase Metabolism?
The answer is “yes, but not by a whole lot.”
Research shows that every pound of hard-earned muscle burns about an additional 4-7 calories per day. Translation: if you wanted to burn 100 calories extra per day, then you need to add a solid 10-20 pounds of muscle to your body — and that’s a lot of muscle.
But Here’s The Good News
The ever-wise Dean Somerset wrote a great post on why this seemingly depressing news can be a bit deceiving. Let’s start with basics: even if you were able to add 10 to 20 pounds of muscle (and that would take you years, not months, to do), that extra 100 calories burned per day still wouldn’t give you “the fat-burning capabilities of a furnace on high in Phoenix in July.” But gaining that muscle would still be very helpful for your body — and your fat loss goals.
More Muscle Moving Means More Calories Burned Faster
While the caloric burn of a single pound of muscle at rest is very much overstated, the work you’d need to do in order to build that muscle would still create positive changes for your body. And then, as Somerset goes on to explain, when the now-more-muscular you exercises, you’d be able to burn more calories faster.
“So the big outline of this is that adding muscle mass on its own won’t help you to burn a lot of calories, but can help you to do more work, which is what will actually burn more calories,” Somerset writes.
While adding more muscle doesn’t speed up your metabolism as much as you’d like, don’t overstress the impact on your baseline metabolism. Instead, realize that there are many good reasons to exercise and add more muscle (and drop fat) as a means to being healthier and looking better.
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Is Sugar Bad For You? (You’ll Be Surprised)
Understanding Proteins, Carbs and Fats
Metabolism Myths: Part 1
The Metabolism Myth You Probably Believed
September 12, 2011 Share Tweet Flip 0 Shares
It’s seems like every fitness-expert wannabe has a website proclaiming he knows the secret way to turn your body into a FAT-INCINERATING BLAST FURNACE!
Some myths about boosting metabolism are so prevalent that they’ve been repeated again and again via best-selling fitness books and popular magazines. You’ll hear personal trainers and nutrition counselors spew this information, as well.
Don’t believe it.
Here is a harsh, cold smack in the face for you: There are no secret tricks to boost metabolism.
Granted, we are talking about resting metabolism — the calories you burn when you’re not active. Getting active definitely revs things up temporarily, but thinking that all these other tricks you can employ are going to cause your body to burn a bunch of extra calories while you sleep or eat Cheetos or watch porn is a myth.
In reality, the act of getting in shape and, specifically, losing weight will cause your resting metabolism to go down. If you go from overweight, doughnut-scarfing couch potato to lean-and-mean workout warrior, the number of calories you burn at rest is going to drop significantly. Yes, even if you packed on a bunch of muscle.
This is because a lower body weight equals a lower resting metabolism. Also, when you consistently push your body hard with physical exercise, it gets used to it; it gets more efficient. Not just at doing the exercise, but at any kind of activity. Even while watching Survivor or playing Halo, you’ll burn fewer calories.
Without further ado into additional time-wasting activities, here’s part one of the most three most popular metabolism myths. We’ll use actual real-science-type stuff to bust the hell out of them.
Myth 1: Adding muscle mass dramatically increases daily caloric burn
You may have heard that one pound of muscle will burn 50 calories a day just sitting doing nothing. If you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you would therefore gain an additional 500 calories per day metabolic boost just sitting around. Many people, including made-famous-by-Oprah Jorge Cruise and Dr. Oz have spread this information. But is it true?
In fact, according to internationally renowned obesity researcher Dr. Claude Bouchard, muscle has a relatively low resting metabolic rate. Dr. Bouchard told me in an interview that, on average, a pound of muscle will only burn an extra six calories per day, and that this is marginally better than what a pound of fat burns in a day, which is two calories. Bouchard told me that the vast majority of our RMR caloric burn comes from function of the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. “When you account for everything that isn’t skeletal muscle, it makes up about 75-80% of RMR, so skeletal muscle only accounts for 20-25% of resting metabolic rate.”
In other words, adding even a considerable amount of muscle isn’t going to do much to boost resting metabolism because skeletal muscle plays such a small role in the number of calories you burn each day while sitting around.
If we believe the 50-calories-per-pound-of-muscle myth, I should be burning another 1,000 calories a day because of the extra 20 pounds of muscle I’ve gained from weight training. I’ve run the numbers on my total daily energy expenditure, and I can tell you that it just isn’t happening. Again, I would love if it were true, because those extra 1,000 calories a day would taste really good, but it just drives home Bouchard’s point that this myth is a total crock.
How many calories can your body really burn without moving?
Let’s use Bouchard’s numbers and do the math on what actually is happening. Since I started working out and changing my diet, I’ve lost about 50 pounds of fat and gained around 20 pounds of muscle (both of which took a long time and a lot of effort). The fat loss means I am burning 100 (50 x 2) fewer calories per day and the muscle gain means I am burning 120 (20 x 6) additional calories per day. Net increased caloric burn = 20 calories per day, or one-third of an Oreo cookie. Crud.
Don’t ever think I’m down on weightlifting, though. It’s awesome, and you absolutely should do it.
Weightlifting does burn calories (though not as much as sustained aerobic activity), and it has numerous other health benefits associated with it: Stronger, increased flexibility, injury prevention, improved physical function, and you get to be prettier from the neck down.
So do it, but just don’t expect it to be a miracle calorie burner.
We’ll bring you two more metabolism myths in the coming days.
However, through a targeted total-body strength-training program, it’s possible to not only prevent muscle loss, but actually increase your muscle mass (and keep your metabolism up) throughout your life.
In other words, while strength training might not increase your metabolism very much, it can help you maintain your metabolism as you age.
The best way to build muscle mass and get the biggest metabolic boost: Perform compound movements and lift heavy.
If you want to train to build muscle mass, focus on integrating at least three strength-training workouts into your weekly exercise routine and prioritizing large, compound movements—which require multiple muscle groups to work at once—over small, isolation exercises.
“Throwing in a few bicep curls into your training is helpful, but it won’t have the same impact as pull-ups,” Spano says. Squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, lunges, rows, and bench presses are all great options for stimulating the most muscle growth possible with each and every rep.
Similarly, lifting weights that are heavy enough that you can eek out only 6 to 12 reps per set with proper form will help increase muscular size as opposed to muscular endurance. Compound exercises make it possible to lift heavier, so the two pair nicely. “Don’t be afraid to go heavy,” Spano says.
Strength training is amazing for your health and overall fitness. Building muscle might not boost your metabolism very much, but that shouldn’t discourage you from lifting weights.
At the end of the day, yes, strength training does impact your metabolism, but any boost you get will be minimal and completely secondary to all of the other health benefits of strength training. Any change in metabolism or increase in calorie burn will vary widely from person to person, and depends on so many factors: your genetics, eating habits, health conditions, what workout you do that day, how much sleep you’re getting, and even how stressed you are on any given day. But incorporating a couple of strength training sessions into your fitness routine is worth doing no matter what—you’ll feel yourself get stronger, and put yourself in a position to say healthier throughout life. Those are the best, most promising benefits to work for.
You May Also Like: 7 Beginner-Friendly Kettlebell Moves
First, let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as miracle metabolism boosters. No matter what you see in ads or hear in your running circles, there are no special supplements or super foods that can blast off unwanted pounds while you sleep. But you can and should take steps to keep your metabolism running at its hottest, because the same steps you take to stoke your calorie burn also improve your athletic performance and help keep you healthier for life.
What Exactly is Metabolism?
People talk about metabolism like it’s some genie in a bottle waiting for you to find the magic lamp. It’s not. Your metabolism is simply your body’s process of using a certain amount of energy it needs to live. It represents the number of calories you burn to keep your heart beating, your neurons firing, and to perform the countless other functions you do without thought to support the body you have.
The bigger you are, the higher your metabolism, because there’s more of you to keep running. Genetics also plays a role, as some people naturally have higher metabolic rates and burn more energy even when idling than others. Metabolism also naturally declines about one to two percent per decade with age.
You can’t do much to change your genes, and you certainly can’t stop time. But you can change your body composition, which affects your metabolism. You can also control what you eat and how much you sleep, both of which can influence how your body makes, burns, and stores energy.
How to Boost Your Metabolism
Build the Engine
After age 30, you begin to lose muscle mass, up to 5 percent per decade. Men lose more than women, likely due to hormonal factors. Most men will lose about 30 percent of their muscle mass over the course of their lives, according to Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
That’s bad because muscle burns three times as many calories even when you’re inactive than fat does. To be clear, the metabolic benefits of strength training were greatly exaggerated for years. The absolute calorie-burning numbers are not huge: Each pound of muscle burns six calories a day to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns two. But it’s not insignificant. My 115 pounds of muscle burns 690 calories a day even if I do nothing more strenuous than surf the web. If I lose 10 percent of that lean tissue, my do-nothing calorie burn drops 70 calories a day, or about 500 a week, or more than 25,000 per year.
Suddenly, it add ups. Most importantly, losing muscle doesn’t just diminish your Netflix watching calorie-burn. Less muscle also means you’re less strong to run hard, sprint fast, lift heavy things, and burn lots of energy through movement. That matters a lot.
Strength training helps you hang onto more of your muscle mass with age, slowing what can otherwise by a steady metabolic decline.
“By strength training twice a week, you can reverse about 50 percent of the metabolism slowdown that comes with age,” says long-time muscle and metabolism researcher Gary Hunter, Ph.D., a professor of human studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
It can also help you replace what you’ve lost. One of Hunter’s studies found that adults ages 61 to 77 years of age were able to add about four and a half pounds of muscle, increase strength by 36 percent, and boost their resting metabolism by nearly 7 percent after six months of strength training.
Feed the Furnace
You know how your phone goes into low battery mode when it dips below an essential amount of charge? Your metabolism does the same thing. When you don’t eat enough to give your systems the energy they need, your body goes into preservation mode and dims your metabolic rate (which is why weight loss can be so difficult).
So the first step in keeping your metabolism high is proper fueling and not dramatically slashing calories. The average recreational female runner burns between 2,000 and 2,400 calories a day, while their male counterparts burn between 2,200 and 2,700. Following mainstream diets designed for sedentary people, which often recommend super low daily calorie intakes, will wreak mayhem on your active-person’s metabolism.
Instead pay attention to the quality of your diet. Research shows that eating a healthy diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods will help fuel your activity and keep your metabolism humming along. If you doubt it can make a big difference, consider that a study published in Food & Nutrition Research found that volunteers burned nearly twice as many calories (137 vs. 73) after eating a cheddar cheese sandwich on multi-grain bread than they did eating the same calories from a processed cheese sandwich on white bread. Quality matters.
Fan the Flames
Good lifestyle habits like staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest can also help keep your metabolism humming along.
Research shows that sleep deprivation, like getting less than four hours a night, blunts resting metabolism by about 3 percent, and that it rebounds quickly after a long night of recovery sleep.
Drinking water, especially cold water, can temporarily raise your metabolism, according to some research. More importantly, proper hydration helps your organs and muscles function optimally, and allows you to crush your daily runs with ease.
Other studies show that drinking green tea and eating hot chili peppers can each give you a little metabolic bump. But you need a lot of both to make a measurable difference, so enjoy them if you like them, but don’t feel like your metabolism will meltdown without them.
The Bottom Line
Yes, you can actually boost your metabolism, but—no surprise here—there is no silver bullet. Despite what Instagram influencers or clever advertisements will lead you to believe, the methods of boosting your metabolism are the same habits of a healthy and active lifestyle: strength training, eating well with a focus on high-quality foods, sleeping enough, and staying hydrated. Do these things, and you’ll not only stoke your metabolism, but you’ll also run stronger and avoid injury.
Selene Yeager “The Fit Chick” Selene Yeager is a top-selling professional health and fitness writer who lives what she writes as a NASM certified personal trainer, USA Cycling certified coach, pro licensed mountain bike racer, and All-American Ironman triathlete.
How to boost your metabolism
Myths around metabolism abound: “Coffee speeds it up!” “It slows down after the age of 40.” “Lifting weights raises your basal metabolic rate.”
It’s not uncommon for supposed health foods and diet plans to claim they “boost metabolism,” but more often than not this is simply confusing false advertising.
So how much of what we hear is actually true? Why do our metabolisms differ and is there really anything we can do to change ours?
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Here’s everything you need to know about metabolism – and how to improve yours:
What is metabolism?
Put simply, metabolism is the process by which our body converts food into energy. The body takes the calories from what we eat and drink and uses oxygen to release the energy we need to function.
Why would you want to raise yours?
The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn at rest. So if you’re trying to lose fat, increasing your metabolism is a huge help. But by following the steps needed to boost yours, you’ll improve your energy, skin tone and mood too.
Is it actually possible to change your metabolism?
Yes! Everyone can optimise their body to make it use fuel most efficiently, and the best way to do this is through exercise.
To rev your metabolism as much as possible, you want to be combining high intensity workouts to burn fat and resistance training to build muscle: “Muscle is much more metabolically active than fat and someone with a higher volume of lean muscle mass has a more efficient metabolic rate,” Israel Rivera, Head of Group Exercise at Virgin Active, explained to The Independent.
If you want to lose fat, it’s generally believed that the best way to do this in the long run is through strength training – ie lifting weights. “Broadly this is because resistance training stimulates muscle growth and the greater the muscle mass, the higher the rate of metabolism required to keep that muscle operational,” Dr. Ben Kelly Head of Preventative Medicine at Nuffield Health, told The Independent.
“That is not to say that aerobic training is not effective in augmenting metabolism – the best results tend to occur when both exercise types are used.
When it comes to cardio, you should be trying to raise your heart rate to 120 to 140 beats per minute for 20 to 35 minutes – but not go over 145 beats per minute, according to author of Metabolism Revolution Haylie Pomroy, who has worked with clients such as Jennifer Lopez and Reese Witherspoon.
As well as cardio workouts, try and do two weights sessions a week. “Work with stacked reps in sets of three,” Pomroy told Well + Good. “Start with eight reps, then six reps, then four reps. The weight should be heavy enough that you can just complete the reps to muscle exhaustion.”
Eating plenty of protein at every meal – not just post-workout – is essential because the amino acids are used for building lean muscle mass.
Rivera also recommends drinking more water: “People who drink more water have a higher metabolic rate and higher success rate for achieving their fitness goals.”
And despite what you might have been told about how to lose weight, eating regularly is key, and ideally within 30 minutes of waking up. If you don’t eat before leaving the house and starting your day, your body can go into panic mode – “Your adrenals will produce , an emergency hormone that tells your body it had better start stockpiling fat, because who knows when you’ll get more food,” says Pomroy.
Studies show that eating roughly every three hours, whether a meal or a snack, keeps your metabolism up over the course of the day. Don’t be tempted to cut calories drastically, as this can lead to metabolic slowdown.
As if we needed another reason to treat ourselves to a weekend lie-in, Rivera says getting more sleep can have a positive effect on your metabolism too: “Sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on achieving your fitness goals as being tired increases stress hormones,” he says.
“Lack of sleep has also been linked to an increase in blood sugar levels which makes you feel hungry or sluggish which can slow the metabolism.”
Why do metabolisms vary from person to person?
The metabolism is personal to each individual and we all metabolise food at different rates. This can be affected by various factors, such as the volume of lean muscle mass on your body.
“A professional athlete would have a much higher metabolism than that of a sedentary office worker,” Rivera gives as an example. “Age, gender and personal medical considerations sometimes also impact our metabolism.”
The more sedentary you are, the slower your metabolism, so it’s crucial to stay active, particularly as you age.
“At the end of the day, exercise will always have a positive impact on our metabolic rate and overall wellness,” Rivera says. “Good nutrition and regular exercise are gateways to overall health and successfully meeting your fitness goals.”
Nope, this isn’t clickbait, just in case you were wondering. We know there are a lot of myths about boosting your metabolism: eating spicy foods and drinking water first thing in the morning are a few. It is possible to speed up your metabolism naturally, and it’s actually rather easy to do. According to experts, you can and should begin to eat more high-protein foods and healthy fats because your body has to expend more energy (which means a greater caloric burn) to process them.
Another easy way to boost your metabolism is to begin lifting weights. Strength training will allow you to burn more calories and build more muscle. If you’re wondering why you should do more strength training instead of Pilates (not that Pilates is bad), it’s because you build muscle when you lift weights, and muscle is metabolically active. The more muscle mass you have, the more energy your body produces, which will increase your metabolic rate, which is your body’s ability to burn calories.
Now that you’ve got the rundown on the importance of your metabolism, it’s time to get ready to work. The goal of this workout is to help you build muscle. You don’t need to repeat it every day, but it’s a good starting point to help you increase your metabolism. If you’re looking for more workouts to follow, try this four-week beginner weightlifting plan.
The Metabolism-Boosting Workout
The first step to any workout is a quality warmup. Here’s a quick warmup you can do. Once your muscles are warm, it’s time to get to work. You’ll need at least one set of dumbbells. Since everyone has different strength levels, select a weight that you can lift with proper form for all the reps. If you don’t feel challenged after a couple of reps, increase the weight. I usually have a medium set of dumbbells for upper body (10-20 pounds is a good starting point) and a heavier pair for lower-body exercises (15-30 pounds).
For each exercise, complete the listed sets and reps before moving on to the following exercise. Ideally, you should take no more than 30 seconds of rest in between each set and about 60-90 seconds of rest in between each exercise. If you need more rest, feel free to take it. Don’t forget to cool down and stretch after your workout.
- Dumbbell bench press: four sets of 12 reps
- Bent-over row: four sets of 12 reps
- Barbell squat: four sets of 12 reps
- Dumbbell walking lunge: two sets of 10 reps
- Dumbbell thruster: three sets of 12 reps
- Romanian deadlift: four sets of 12 reps
Ways to Increase Metabolism
Boost metabolism naturally using Shape’s top ten tips.
Shape offers ten simple ways to increase metabolism – and become healthier, too:
1. Maximize your muscle. Muscles are fat-burning furnaces, so be sure to do enough resistance training to build and maintain them and follow your workouts with a snack or meal balanced in protein, carbohydrates and fat.
2. Don’t forget the cardio workout routines. It improves definition and blasts the fat that covers your muscles. Combining regular aerobic exercise with strength training will give you the slimming effect you’ve been going for. After all, toning without cardio is like building a house on a weak foundation.
3. Be sure to stretch. It can help your muscles work better so you can more effectively isolate your problem areas.
4. Focus on your assets. Playing up your favorite body parts can boost your confidence and draw attention away from spots you want to minimize. Sculpting your shoulders, arms, chest, and back, for example, can help balance heavier hips so you look more proportionate. Plus, you’ll be firmer all over.
5. Don’t starve yourself. Undereating causes your metabolic rate to drop and your body to hold onto fat. Shape recommends that the average, active woman consume at least 1,800 calories daily.
6. Go graze-y. Eat 6 small meals a day to avoid blood-sugar spikes and minimize urges to binge.
7. Get real. Fuel your body with wholesome, nutritious foods, and limit your intake of refined carbs (anything sugary or white-flour based).
8. Drink more water. Staying hydrated will help you feel full longer and keep you healthy.
9. Sleep tight. Get 7-8 hours of Z’s a night.
10. Control what you can. Keep stress levels in check by managing your time, focusing on the present and not over-committing.
Find more information about how to boost metabolism naturally through regular workout routines.
Speeding up your metabolism requires more than packing great meals in your 6 Pack Bags. Although it’s important to know what foods to eat to improve your metabolism, working out is also a beneficial way to develop energy and keep your system moving. Enough talking though, let’s get to some doing. Here are the top exercises to boost metabolism
Muscle building in any form will increase metabolic rate. This is because muscle continues to burn calories even when your workout is finished. Combining this with items in your meal management system that lead to muscle repair and development like lean meats will help you boost your metabolism. Resistance training is especially helpful. It’s also important to note that each pound of muscle burns three times the calories of fat each day, making strength training vital. Squats, bicep curls and farmer’s walks (lunging forward and walking with weights in both hands) are all simple means of exercise to boost metabolism and to increase muscle mass.
Using aerobic exercise to boost metabolism is a great idea, especially if you’ve already cut out the fatty and starch-filled foods that slow your metabolism from the get-go. Going for a run or engaging in any other form of cardio will not only help strengthen your heart, but the higher the intensity of the exercise, the higher the rate of your metabolism will be after your workout is over.
At its very core, CrossFit is the best type of workout for improving your body’s internal system. This type of exercise is inclusive of the muscle building exercises key to both strength training and cardio. In one unique combination, you have a workout that blasts calories and provides you with much-needed energy. This makes the training in CrossFit the most effective exercise to boost metabolism. Around a person’s mid-20s, the body’s metabolic rate begins to slow down. This change can be even more drastic if you’re not exercising and eating right, potentially leading to a 10% drop every decade. This comes in comparison to the less than 1% decline that a physically active person sees every ten years. Through a combination of dieting with your meal management system and pushing yourself to continue exercising, it will be easy to maintain and build upon your metabolic rate. By taking to the gym, continuing to usea combination of weightlifting and aerobic exercise, you’ll be able to boost yourself up and keep kicking ass where it counts most – everywhere.
Metabolism: Popular Myths And 9 Easy Ways To Rev It Up!
Metabolism is a murky subject that has taken on a meaning of its own. Read on to discover what your metabolism really is, myths about your metabolism and nine techniques to rev it up, and reach your fat burning potential!
What Is Metabolism?
The word metabolism refers to how much energy your body uses, or how many calories you burn in a day. A starting point to measure your metabolism is calculating BMR (basal metabolic rate), which measures how many calories you burn at rest, or if you lied in bed all day.
Even though you’re not moving around, your body uses energy (burns calories) by keeping your heart beating, sustaining your muscles, breathing, and regulating your temperature, among other functions.
Then add to your BMR how many calories you burn doing your daily activities, and add what you burn in the gym, and voila! You have your metabolism.
The word metabolism is one of the most misunderstood words related to training (second only to motivation, but that’s another story). People tell me all the time that their slow metabolism is to blame for their less-than-stellar results. Sadly, this myth is being perpetuated by the weight loss industry.
The other day I saw a commercial for a weight loss pill that claimed to raise your metabolism “without the need to change your diet or exercise.” The voice over said something to the effect of, “You can’t lose weight because you have a slow metabolism. Thin people are lucky because they were born with fast metabolisms.” I was too stunned to speak.
Not only is the term metabolism misused, but it’s being manipulated by the weight loss industry to sell products. I have to say here that I’m not bashing fat burners, in fact I take one myself. But they’re intended to assist people who exercise regularly and rigorously, use fat for energy during exercise instead of sugar stores or worse, muscle tissue.
When people take pills to amp up their metabolism without hitting it hard in the gym, they’re effectively abusing such pills and are putting their health at serious risk. Now back to the commercial. First of all overweight people actually have faster metabolisms than thin people because they are literally carrying around extra weight.
For example, a 130 pound, 30 year-old woman who is 5’5″ tall has a BMR of 1384. The same woman at 230 pounds has a BMR of 1817. And the 230 pound woman burns more calories doing while exercising as well. So actually, thin people aren’t “lucky” to be born with fast metabolisms. Their metabolisms are slower than overweight people.
Second, genes do play a role in metabolism, but I wouldn’t go as far as to use the word “lucky” in describing those with faster metabolisms. Differences in metabolic rates are smaller than we think. Furthermore, people who have faster metabolisms are probably already doing things I’ve listed below either consciously or unconsciously. Again, luck really doesn’t have anything to do with it.
The main point: we don’t have to be victims of our “slow” metabolisms. There are several things you can do to easily reach the maximum potential of your metabolism. Read on to find out how!
Ways To Increase Your Metabolism
1. Do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Regular cardio raises your metabolism while you’re doing it, but once your finished, your metabolism returns to its regular rate. On the other hand, HIIT raises your metabolism for hours afterward.
HIIT is performed by alternating highly intense bursts of exercise for 30 seconds to a minute (“highly intense”—not less than 85% of your maximum heart rate) with slow recovery for one to two minutes.
Without getting too technical, HIIT spikes your metabolism after your finished (while you’re at rest) because your body is so strained, it needs extra time to recover
Think of it this way: gunning your car for 30 seconds, then braking down to 10 MPH, then gunning and braking again uses much more gas than driving at a steady pace. The same is true for your body, except in this case, the more fuel (body fat) you use, the better!
An example of HIIT on a treadmill is running on 9.0 for 30 seconds, then walking on 3.0 for one minute. Repeat this 10 times and you’re looking at 28 minutes total (even including a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down). Try to work your way up to 1 minute high intensity/1 minute low intensity.
2. Lift Weights
Like HIIT, lifting weights raises your metabolism long after you’re finished—experts estimate that your metabolism stays elevated for up to 39 hours! Again, this is because lifting strains your body so much, that it needs extra time to recover.
I assume that if you’re reading this article on Bodybuilding.com that you’re already an avid weight lifter. Kudos for that! Always remember to stay focused and intense in the gym to reap the maximum benefits.
Thankfully, there are tons of articles here on Bodybuilding.com that will help you tailor a lifting plan that’s right for you and your goals.
3. Build Muscle
Does it make you crazy when someone speaks of “converting” fat to muscle? Me too, because as you know, muscle and fat are different tissues.
Maybe the most important distinction between the two is that muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Exactly how much more active is subject to some debate.
Some experts estimate that each extra pound of muscle you gain burns 30-50 extra calories a day, while others estimate that a pound of muscle burns 6 calories at rest, compared to 2 calories burned by a pound of fat.
Even the more conservative estimate means that it’s beneficial to your metabolism to be muscular.
4. Eat Protein
Sure you know that protein fills you up, but did you know that protein has a greater thermogenic effect than the other macronutrients? The thermogenic effect of food (TEF) is a measure of energy that your body needs to digest food.
Protein is harder for your body to digest and thus takes more energy than does fat or carbs. The TEF of protein is 25%, meaning 25% of the calories of each gram of protein is burned off through digestion, whereas the TEF of carbohydrates is 5%, and is only 2% for fats.
Take advantage of this metabolism booster by including lean protein in every meal… all five to six of them.
5. Eat 5-6 small meals a day
The act of eating actually raises your metabolism—don’t go super-sizing it just yet! As I just mentioned, digesting food takes energy, and a different amount of energy is required for each macronutrient. So eating several meals, as opposed to three squares, raises your metabolism five to six times a day, as opposed to only three.
This technique works on another level. When your body doesn’t get food, your metabolism slows down. This is because our bodies are ingeniously programmed to protect against starvation—when your body senses that another meal may not be coming (even though food in our modern world is in abundance) it holds onto your body fat to use as energy.
When you only eat three times a day, your metabolism slows greatly between each meal. On the other hand, by eating consistently every three to four hours, your metabolism will stay elevated, knowing that another meal is coming soon.
An added benefit of eating every three hours is that you don’t get hungry. By never getting hungry, you reduce the chances of overeating, or grabbing something quick and unhealthy just because it’s there.
6. Eat real food
As opposed to what, fake food? Pretty much. When I say “real food” I mean food closest to its natural form: organic veggies, organic fruits, whole grains and organic free range lean meats and eggs.
The digestion process starts your mouth with an enzyme called salivary amylase contained in your saliva. Then your digestive system continues to break down food to use it as energy now, or store it as energy to use later. The digestive process is like a well-oiled machine with all the parts working in tandem. Processed foods are basically predigested, which wreaks havoc for our systems.
One easy example to illustrate this is instant versus regular oatmeal. To make traditional oatmeal into instant, a process strips a layer of fiber off of the oats—a layer that your body would otherwise strip off during digestion.
Stripping off this layer makes it faster to cook, but it also does some digesting for you. As I mentioned above, digesting burns calories, which increases your metabolism.
Of course, instant oatmeal isn’t the worst thing in the world—but think of the processing involved in turning fruit into fruit snacks, potatoes into potato chips, and sugar cane and whole oats into cookies. All of these foods contain predigested ingredients, and by robbing your system of the chance to digest, you’re robbing your metabolism of a boost.
Our busy lives don’t always afford us the opportunity to have fresh foods, so processed foods are a part of our diet whether we like it or not.
But try to limit those processed foods to ones that will help your training, such as whey protein powder (where would we be without our whey?) or meal replacement protein bars. And when you dine out, always opt for foods as close to a natural state as possible.
7. Drink water
Water is paramount to developing a lean, healthy physique. Not only is it a vehicle for flushing fat from your system, but it’s also crucial for your bodies messaging system to fire correctly. And drinking water can actually raise your metabolism.
Being dehydrated can cause cravings, and tricks your mind into thinking you’re hungry, rather than thirsty. Staying hydrated keeps your body balanced, and helps you become more in tune with your internal senses of need.
According to Kelly Cornell of the San Jose Nutritional Examiner, “this translates into less cravings and clearer messages for true hunger, all of which will help you lose weight.”
But how does it raise your metabolism? A German study tested drinking water and energy expenditures on healthy subjects who weren’t overweight. The researchers found that after drinking about “17 ounces of water, the subjects’ metabolic rates—or the rate at which calories are burned—increased by 30% for both men and women. The increases occurred within 10 minutes of water consumption and reached a maximum after about 30 or 40 minutes.”
Over a year, drinking an extra 1.5 liters a day burns around 17,400 calories, which adds up to about five pounds. While five pounds a year may sound like only a little amount, this adds up to 25 pounds in five years, or 50 pounds in 10 years!
The moral of the story is: drink more water. And if you train hard in the gym, drink even more.
8. Drink green tea
Drinking green tea is one of the easiest ways to rev up your metabolism. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea-extract increases the metabolism by 4% over a 24 hour period.
Three to five cups a day can help you burn an extra 70 calories a day, which adds up to seven pounds a year, 35 pounds for five years and 70 pounds for 10 years.
Green tea has also been shown to inhibit fat absorption—the movement of glucose into fat cells, glucose levels after eating a meal, prevent insulin spikes which prevents fat storage, and reduce appetite.
Think three to five cups a day seems like a lot? Replace diet soda with my recipe for “green tea soda.” Spoon instant green tea into sparkling water like Perrier or club soda and you have a refreshing, bubbly drink. It’s great to get you through the 3:00pm slump, when you otherwise might reach for a soda or sugary snack.
9. Don’t stress
When the cavemen stressed, it was because food was scarce. For them, feeling stressed was a good thing—it triggered a survival mechanism that slowed their metabolisms to save their precious body fat for energy.
Our bodies are the same as the cavemen’s, except these days we stress out over crashing computers, lost cell phones, busy work schedules, or just in juggling day-to-day tasks.
We’re lucky enough that even in the most stressful times, food is not scarce. However, the stress-induced survival mechanism that the cavemen experienced still functions in our bodies. This is why during periods of stress—non-food related stress—your metabolism drops.
I find yoga, meditation or even deep breathing to be great stress relievers. Sufficient sleep is also important for reducing stress, as is regular exercise. And supplements like St. John’s Wort and 5-HTP can help to keep your spirits elevated (and, I’ve found, reduce cravings). In the end, don’t let the little things stress you out—and let me say that they’re all little things!
In sum, you are not a victim to a slow metabolism. By pushing your metabolism to a higher level, you can burn fat and reach your fitness goals sooner. Use these simple techniques to aid in your quest for a faster metabolism, and as a result, a fitter, slimmer body!
As always, I encourage any questions or comments on this article or any other I’ve written!
(Last Updated On: March 30, 2019)
Once you pass the age of 30, your metabolism begins to slow. The four slices of pizza you used to scarf down at one time without impacting your weight begin to show up when you step on the scale. One of the main reasons metabolism slows with age is a gradual age-related decline in lean body mass. Loss of muscle can impact your metabolic health. Muscle is a “sink” that sucks up glucose. This helps with glucose control – but can resistance training increase your resting metabolic rate?
Resistance Training and Metabolism
In 2000, a group of researchers put resistance training to the “metabolic” test. They asked a group of older men and women, between the ages of 65 and 77, to take part in a 26-week resistance training program. None of the subjects had previously weight trained.
Each of the participants worked out at between 65 and 80% of their one-rep max. One-rep max is the maximal amount of weight they can lift for one repetition. Their workouts consisted of standard weight training exercises with a focus on lower body movements.
As the participants’ strength improved, the resistance was increased for progressive overload.
At the end of 26 weeks of training, they remeasured their resting metabolic rate. The results? The participants’ resting metabolic rate increased by 7% over the course of the study. This would be the equivalent of burning an extra 100 calories per day. Not bad!
The Effects of Resistance, Endurance and Concurrent Training on Metabolic Rate
Another study looked at concurrent training (combined endurance and resistance training) and each form of training individually on basal metabolic rate (BMR). One group of healthy males did resistance training. The second group did only endurance training while the third did combined resistance and endurance training. After 10 weeks of training, they remeasured their metabolic rate. The resistance training group showed an increase of 6%. The resistance/endurance training group also showed a rise in their basal metabolic rate of 5%. The endurance group? They actually showed a 2% drop in BMR.
The three training groups experienced other changes as well. All three experienced a drop in body fat percentage but the group that did both endurance and resistance exercise showed the greatest drop in body fat (3.5%). The endurance training group experienced a 2.3% decrease in body fat while the resistance training group lost an average of 1.4% body fat.
The resistance training group showed the greatest increase in muscle strength, although the group that did combination training also showed strength gains. As expected, the endurance group had no improvements in muscle strength. What they did experience was an increase in aerobic capacity of around 13%. Aerobic capacity increased in the combination group too, but to a lesser degree (7%). The resistance training group actually experienced a slight decline in aerobic capacity.
What can you conclude from this study? Resistance training is best for increasing basal metabolic rate and muscular strength. Endurance exercise wins the most points for improving aerobic capacity, while combination training is most effective for decreasing body fat. Doing a combination of endurance training and resistance exercise offered some benefits in all areas tested – strength, aerobic capacity, body fat loss, and basal metabolic rate. For overall health and fitness, a combination of endurance and resistance training should help you improve to some degree in all areas.
Increasing Your Metabolism Through Resistance Training
Most literature suggests resistance training boosts basal metabolic rate by between 6 and 7% after several weeks of training. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for between 60 and 75% of your energy expenditure each day. Although subtle, raising your BMR by 7% gives you definite advantages when it comes to controlling your weight.
To get the most metabolic benefits from resistance training, use a challenging resistance you can only lift 8 to 10 reps before experiencing failure. Lifting light weights for multiple reps, a muscular endurance workout, won’t elicit the same hormonal response as lifting heavy.
When you lift heavier weights to near failure your body releases growth hormone and testosterone to help you build muscle and burn fat. Plus, you’re targeting fast-twitch muscle fibers when you use heavy resistance. This maximizes the metabolic benefits you get from a workout.
The more muscle tissue you have the better for your metabolism. A pound of fat isn’t very metabolically active. It only burns between 3 and 5 calories a day. In contrast, a pound of muscle burns almost 5 times that amount daily. Which do you think will help better control your weight? Go for the muscle every time.
To burn more fat during a resistance training workout, focus more on large muscle groups and do a high percentage of compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, dips, overhead presses, upright rows and pull-ups rather than isolation exercises like biceps curls and triceps extensions. Limiting the rest between sets will also create more metabolic stress and increase fat burning.
The Bottom Line?
Resistance training can increase your basal metabolic rate by as much as 7%. In contrast, endurance training doesn’t give your metabolic rate a sustained boost. Resistance training is also best for changing the composition of your body. In reality, both should be part of a well-rounded workout. The ratio you do will depend upon your goals – whether your primary goal is to build strength and lean body mass or to improve your aerobic capacity.
Journal of Applied Physiology. 89. pages 977 -984. (2000)
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Apr;33(4):532-41.
Training for Weight Management. Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and Randy Malone, M.E.D
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Is Muscle Loss the Only Reason Your Metabolism Slows with Age?