How to Boost Your Metabolism

How to Boost Your Metabolism

We've all asked Google this question before: "How do I boost my metabolism?"

Unfortunately, Google has most likely given you tons and tons of different sources for answers. Some may have been similar, some may have differed. Point is, you're sick and tired of feeling unsure. 

Don't worry, we'll answer your question without hesitation or doubt in this article. But before we begin to answer the question of "can or how do I boost my metabolism?", we must first go over what the metabolism actually is. 

Metabolism

The Merriam-Webster definition of metabolism is: 

- The sum of the processes in the buildup and destruction of protoplasm; specifically the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated. 

If you're like me, you read that over five different times, took a break from the computer, did some errands, came back to the computer, read it five more times, still thought you were reading Chinese, and proceeded to follow up with this statement:

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So let's simplify things. When we're talking about metabolism in health, fitness, and nutrition, we're referring to the amount of calories our body burns in a day without activity. If your metabolism is slow, it means that your body is burning minimal amounts of calories in a day. If your metabolism if fast, it means that your body is burning tons and tons of calories in a day. 

So if we want to know how to "boost our metabolism", we need to know a couple of things:

1. What determines current metabolic rate
2. How to improve the determinant of metabolic rate

What Determines Metabolic Rate?

When determining how many calories you're burning in a day, it's likely that you'll want to figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate. Your BMR will tell you how many calories you burn in a day while at rest. Essentially, BMR will tell you how many calories your body will burn while you Netflix and chill all day long. 

So how do you figure out your basal metabolic rate? Well, there are a lot of factors that play into your BMR like sex, age, weight, and height. As you can see, all of these factors change over time and there's not much we can do about it. We age, and as we age our bodies change. Unfortunately a lot of those changes are out of our control.

Although some of those changes are inevitable, there is one big factor that we can control well with physical activity. It's our lean muscle mass. 

Lean muscle mass has been shown to be one of the greatest determinants of metabolic rate (1). Someone with the same age, weight, height, but lower lean mass will have a lower Basal Metabolic Rate than someone else with the same age, weight, and height, but higher lean mass. 

Simply put, the more lean muscle tissue that your body carries, the more calories your body will burn at rest. 

But what does this mean for you along your fitness journey? How can you apply this knowledge to your life and use it to benefit your health and physique?

How to Increase Lean Muscle Mass

There are plenty of things we can do to in order to burn more calories throughout the day like walk more, do a killer circuit workout, or add 30 minutes of cardio to the end of every single weight lifting session. When it comes to thinking about burning calories, have you noticed that we almost always think of what kind of additional activity we can do to burn more calories? The last time you ate more food than you were supposed to I can almost guarantee you told yourself you'd work twice as hard in the gym to make up for it. Why do we do that? Why don't we think more about what we can do to make sure our body is burning more calories while we do nothing? After all, if we're trying to ensure that our approach to fitness is optimal, practical, and sustainable, wouldn't it be best to be burning more calories at rest, rather than working more and more and more?

So what's the solution? What can we do to make sure our body is a calorie furnace 24/7? The answer is:

Increasing lean muscle mass through resistance training.

Resistance training should be the staple of every workout program whether you're trying to build muscle, burn fat, or do both. It sends a signal to your body that it needs to be stronger, leaner, and build more mass in order to adapt to the load that's being placed upon it. Cardio however, sends a signal to your body telling it to be more efficient with the energy that it has. Therefore the more frequently you do cardio, the better your body will be at using less calories in order to fuel the activity.

Am I saying that you have to or should cut out cardio completely? Of course not. But I do believe that if you're trying to lose fat, avoid a plateau, and avoid getting burnt out, cardio should be a supplement to your resistance training.

If you're at a plateau and you're doing more and more cardio, stop. Lift weights. Apply the same intensity in your cardio sessions to your weight lifting sessions and I'm willing to bet that your body will begin to build a faster metabolism. 

So how do you boost your metabolism? 

Increase your lean muscle mass by lifting weights! 

Short, sweet, and to the point. 

References

(1) Speakman, J R, and C Selman. “Physical Activity and Resting Metabolic Rate.” The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2003
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14692598.

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Adam is a fitness professional, Chipotle fanatic, and cookie enthusiast based in Fort Collins, CO. After hanging up the baseball cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. 

Adam is an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. His years of experience in fat loss, muscle hypertrophy, and sports performance training have helped people improve in all walks of life. If you're interested in hiring Adam as your coach, fill out an application here.