Nutrition: Metabolism – What Do We Need to Know?

The word metabolism is defined as the bodily process that is needed to maintain life. Our metabolism describes how efficiently our bodies burn food as fuel. Many people nowadays use the word metabolism, to describe weight issues and how it applies to them either attempting to lose or gain weight. Evaluating your eating patterns, and how your metabolism may be responding to those patterns with a Registered Dietitian is essential when setting wellness and weight goals.

Let’s explore the facts that can determine your metabolism or the rate in which it functions (burns calories), and how we can boost your metabolism.

There are a few factors that are out of our control. After about age 40, your metabolism slows by about 5% per decade, thus needing to decrease your overall caloric intake to sustain your weight. Also, gender does play a role, men generally burn more calories than women.

What can you do to work on boosting your metabolism?

Increase your lean muscle mass. Weight training is a great way to help increase your strength and lean tissues. When your body has more lean muscle mass, it burns more energy compared to fat tissue.

Don’t skip breakfast. This concept of “Breakfast = Breaking the Fast,” is so important not only from an energy perspective, but it kicks your metabolism into gear first thing in the morning. When we skip breakfast, our metabolism and body go into panic mode, thus causing it to hold onto more calories later in the day, in turn slowing down your metabolism to preserve energy.

Aerobic exercise. HITT (high-intensity interval training) is a great way to get your heart rate up and body burning energy, Aim for 2-3 high-intensity exercise sessions per week.

Get in a protein source at each meal. Protein at meals helps keep us fuller longer and helps to maintain and gain lean muscle mass. Protein at meals should lay the foundation, and then you can build your meal from there! For example Salmon filet (protein), with asparagus (vegetable) & roasted potatoes (carb) on the side cooked with olive oil (fat). Protein is important, but your metabolism responds best when all of the macronutrients are present in your diet each day (carbs, fat, and protein).

Consistently fueling your body (and metabolism) every 3-4 hours will keep the engine running. This regular fueling will prevent your body from panicking, preventing it from moving into storage mode. Skipping meals and crash dieting will cause your metabolism to crash, as your body responds to prevent starvation by lowering your metabolism and storing any nutrition that comes in.

Being active, building muscle, and fueling your body consistently is the key to boosting and maintaining a happy and healthy metabolism.