What is metabolism and why do you need to boost it? As a coach, I get this question all the time. When a person talks about how to boost metabolism, they typically refer to your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).
In simple terms, your BMR is the number of calories your body needs to stay alive. Even if you stayed in bed all day you would still need calories to perform all of the necessary bodily functions.
BMR is not the only component of your overall caloric expenditure.
Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) = BMR +Exercise +Thermic Effect of Food + Exercise + Non-Exercise Activities
Your BMR is affected by many different factors including your Body Weight, Age, Height, Gender, Body Composition, Hormones, and Genetics. Because of these factors, we all burn a different number of calories. Many times, 2 people can have the same stats and still have differences in metabolic rate.
Do you know that one friend who can eat whatever he/she wants and not gain any weight?
Out of all these factors, the only factors we can control are our bodyweight and body composition. A heavier person simply needs more calories than a lighter person. Therefore, if you want to burn more calories, you could simply gain weight.You could simply use bodyweight multipliers to get an estimate of your metabolic rate.
Check out: How Many Calories Do I need?
I’m guessing this is not really an option for most of you. The only other practical application is to gain muscle mass.
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3 Practical Ways to Boost Metabolism
#1: Build Muscle
This applies to both Men and Women. Muscle Mass requires more calories to maintain than fat mass. This is because muscle is more metabolically active.
How many calories does muscle burn?
The truth is that our BMR doesn’t really go up very significantly by gaining muscle. There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to this topic. Many people have wildly inaccurate estimates of about 50 calories per pound of muscle gained.
This is simply not possible. If this were true, a 20-pound gain in muscle mass would result in 100 extra calories burned in a day.
Experts such as Lyle McDonald, estimate that muscle tissue burns about 6 calories per pound. This means that if you gain 20 pounds of muscle, your metabolic rate will go up by 120 calories per day.
If this number sounds small to you, don’t be discouraged. In my estimate having more muscle will help you burn more calories in other ways. In addition to your BMR, having more muscle requires more energy when it comes to everyday movements. Even exercising with more muscle mass will burn more calories than having less muscle.
Overall, having more muscle will not only boost your BMR but will also boost your TDEE. Building
#2 Perform Anaerobic Exercises
There are 2 basic types of exercises: Aerobic and Anaerobic. Aerobic activities are done for longer durations and rely on oxygen as the primary fuel source. This includes activities such as walking, cycling, jogging etc.
Anaerobic Exercises include activities such as Weight Training and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).
These activities are done for a shorter duration because they are done at a high intensity. For example, a 100-meter sprint lasts about 10 seconds. A Marathon, on the other hand, lasts for about an hour.
Anaerobic activities rely on ATP and Muscle Glycogen as the primary fuel source. These exercises are done in intervals of short-bursts of max effort, followed by rest.
Check out the 25 Fat-Blasting HIIT Workouts.
The great thing about anaerobic exercises is that you continue to burn calories even after you’re done exercising. This is commonly known as the ‘Afterburn Effect’. The technical term for this is the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
This simply means that while Anaerobic exercises such as weight training and HIIT don’t rely on oxygen as the primary fuel source, there is still an oxygen debt created. Your body burns through more oxygen for several hours after you workout.
The best thing is that in order to gain muscle, you will have to perform Anaerobic exercises anyway.
Strength training, therefore, has 2 benefits for boosting metabolism:
Helps build muscle
Increases metabolic rate through EPOC
#3 Eat More Protein
Not all calories are created equally. Different macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats) are processed differently by the body. One of the major differences between macronutrients is their Thermic Effect.
Basically, when you eat a certain food, your body has to expend some energy in order to break it down and derive energy from it. This is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF).
Protein has a thermic effect of about 30%. Carbohydrates and fats have a thermic effect about 2-5%, depending on the source.
If you eat 100 calories of protein, and the thermic effect is 30%, you will only derive 70 net calories from it.
If you eat 100 calories of Fats and Carbs, you will derive about 95 net calories from it.
Replacing some calories from your carbs and fats with protein will increase your over TEF and therefore your metabolic rate.
Protein also has the amazing benefit of satiety. Protein is the most filling macronutrient and will make you less hungry. By eating more protein, you may end up eating less calories overall.
Metabolism and Weight Loss
When you lose weight, your metabolism will inevitably slow down. This is simply because of the fact that you weigh less. Most people who workout need about 14-16 calories per pound of body weight.
For example, a 200-pound male who works out regularly may need 2800 calories (200 X 14) to maintain his weight. If he loses 40 pounds, he will now need 2240 calories (160 x 14) to maintain his weight.
In reality, his metabolism will be even lower than his bodyweight predicts because of other metabolic adaptations to weight loss. In order not to starve, your body makes certain adaptations to stop you from losing more weight. Your hormones such as thyroid and Leptin are down regulated and overall, your energy expenditure is lower.
The only way to prevent excessive metabolic slowdown is to build muscle while losing fat.
For example, If we take 2 people who lose the same amount of weight on the scale. 1 of them gains 10 pounds of muscle while losing weight with strength training. The other loses 10 pounds of muscle because he/she doesn’t strength train.
The one who gained muscle will have a slightly faster metabolism than the one who lost muscle. If you can boost metabolism slightly while losing weight, you will have more success in the long term.
Check out: Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss
Your metabolism/BMR is affected by many factors including
- Body Weight
- Body Composition
- Genetics etc.
The only 3 practical ways to boost metabolism are:
- Gain Muscle Mass (Men and Women)
- Perform Anaerobic Exercises such as Weight Training and HIIT Cardio
- Eat more protein
Here’s the best part – All of these 3 are usually done together. If you want to build muscle, you will have to train with weights (anaerobic exercise) and eat enough protein for growth and recovery.
That is why, as a coach, I always focus on strength training to boost metabolism.