Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns energy.
Your body uses calories for energy, like your car uses gas for energy.
You need calories to power your body’s systems, like digestion and circulation. But you also need calories to move.
Eating Too Many Calories
When you eat too many calories, you store the excess as fat.
But, not all calories are equal. For example, calories from sugar are more likely to be stored as fat because sugar essentially tells your body, “here come a lot more calories.”
And it’s usually right (because it’s easy to pack a lot of calories into sugary foods).
How to Speed Up Your Metabolism
You want a fast metabolism so that your body burns a more calories, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. In general, there are three ways to burn calories/speed up your metabolism:
#1: Basal metabolic processes. This is the amount of calories your body burns when you’re not moving. This is measured as “basal metabolic rate” or BMR. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR will be. The less muscle you have, the lower your BMR will be. This is one of the benefits to getting stronger — muscle burns calories to stay alive.
#2: Thermic effect of food. Digestion burns calories. Not much, but it does. On average, you burn about 10% of the food you eat just in digestion. It’s also interesting to note that your body uses more energy to break down proteins and fats than to break down carbohydrates.
#3: Physical activity. The more you move, the more calories you burn. That’s it.
Why You Should Be Lifting Weights
The best way to burn calories is to increase your muscle mass. And that means lifting weights.
Let’s say you have a Basal Metabolic Rate of 1000 calories per day. You eat 1500 calories per day (yeah right–no one eats that little) and you do spin class for an hour. Let’s say your food choices are pretty good, and you have protein or fat with every meal.
Your BMR + thermic effect from food + exercise = 1300 calories. You’re still gaining weight. If you did this exact thing every day, you’d gain a pound around every 18 days.
Now let’s say you boost your BMR. The ONLY way to do this is by building muscle.
If your new BMR is 1200, and you eat the same 1500 calories per day, the thermic effect of food will be the same. But the calories you burn during exercise will go up along with the calories you burn to live.
Your new BMR, thanks to a bit more muscle, is 1200.
Your BMR + thermic effect from food + exercise = 1530. You’ve actually lost a bit of weight.
You burn calories right after exercise, when your muscle feeds itself. But you burn far MORE just walking around…and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn off.
Create a caloric deficit by eating less.
Add muscle mass to your body by lifting weights.
And cut out the processed carbohydrates (sugar).
Originally inspired by and used with permission by our friends over in Canada at Catalyst Gym.