By Victoria Freeman, Ph. Experience Life
Unless you’re one of those rare folks blessed by the fast-metabolism gods, you’d probably like to burn a few more calories than you do both while at work and at rest. The question is: How?
Metabolism is a mysterious animal, one affected by genetic factors as well as a complex interaction of lifestyle, nutrition and exercise habits. It’s worth understanding, though, because with a well-honed metabolism you can bolster your fat-burning and fitness-training regimens in remarkable ways. And a sluggish metabolism can blunt your most valiant weight-loss efforts.
Interested in optimizing your body’s fat-burning, energy-producing machinery? Start by learning just a little about how your metabolism works. Then take note of the key builders and busters that can work for or against your metabolism in powerful ways.
What Is Metabolism?
In fitness circles, “metabolism” is often used interchangeably with “metabolic rate” to refer to the number of calories you burn in maintaining body functions and fueling your activities. But there’s more to metabolism than just calorie burning. Metabolism also encompasses chemical and physical reactions occurring in every one of your body’s tissues from using proteins for muscle-building (called anabolism) to breaking down food into the proteins, fats and carbs that your body uses to fuel itself (called catabolism). You need both processes to develop strength and stamina and to build resistance to aging and disease.
What benefits one aspect of metabolism generally benefits the others, says Paul Chek, holistic health practitioner and founder of the Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology (C.H.E.K) Institute in Vista, Calif. (www.chekinstitute.com). “Metabolism is like a spider web,” he explains. “You can’t pull on one part of the web without affecting the others.”
Nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle factors, like sleep and stress, can all go a long way toward building or busting your metabolism. But keep in mind that many diseases, including thyroid disorders and diabetes, can interfere with metabolic processes. Talk to your doctor about ruling out such medical conditions if you suspect you might be affected by one, and do not significantly alter your exercise or nutrition program without consulting a health professional.
Metabolism Builders and Busters
In each of the three following categories fitness, nutrition and lifestyle we’ve highlighted the top two habits that can either shore up your metabolism or break it down. Metabolism “builders” boost caloric burn, promote anabolic growth or encourage the use of fat as a fuel source. “Busters,” conversely, slow the rate at which your body burns calories and fat or they create excessive catabolic tissue breakdown, thus hindering fitness progress and, in some cases, contributing to injury or disease.
Next: Six ways to build your metabolism and six ways to bust it!