Fire up that metabolism!
All the health magazines, diet manufacturers, exercise pros, weight loss victors talk about how important a fast metabolism is to fat loss and maintaining a desirable figure. Most people want a fast metabolism, but few understand what really gives it that boost; many products and diets swear they know the answer, but most of the time it is some far-fetched theory grounded in pseudo-science that makes no sense in reality. I personally hate to see people fall prey to theses "theories" and wind up discouraged and more hopeless about fat loss than ever. This is why, in this hub, I will give a brief overview on how the metabolism works and a little information on the metabolism's best friend: muscle.
A brief description of the metabolism
This will be a very simplified version of what exactly the metabolism does. I apologize in advance to the readers who are highly educated on this subject. I want everyone, even those without a bio-chemistry background, to be able to understand the metabolism on a basic level. With that being disclosed, let's see what exactly the metabolism does!
Basically the metabolism is an umbrella term which describes all chemical reactions within a living organism. The body is constantly being broken down, on a cellular level, then repaired. This requires energy, which we can see in the form of ATP.
ATP or adenosine triphosphate is known as the energy molecule of the body. Every function, system and action, preformed by the body, requires ATP. Now what does this have to do with looking good in that swimsuit by summer vacation? The breakdown, or catabolism, of ATP and then the rebuilding or anabolism into energy produces heat, heat is measured in calories. These calories are not the calories you will find on the Nutritional Facts on the back of pre-packaged food, that calorie is official called a kilocalorie. You need 1000 calories in order to burn 1 kCal.
So that's the metabolism in a nutshell on a super simple level. Now let's see why and how muscle is the metabolism's best friend!
Pound per pound
Besties for Life!
A best friend is your biggest supporter, the person who helps you through the tough times and someone you can always count on! In many of these ways muscle is the metabolism's best friend.
Many factors contribute to the speed of one's metabolism. Factors such as: age, genes and gender have an impact on how fast complex biochemical processes occur, but, the good news, is these factors effect the metabolism only a small amount. Now, I know there are those people who can eat an embarrassingly amount of food, everyday, and always stay rail thin, usually this is due to the genetic factor affecting their metabolism. If you are prone to gaining body fat, then this will never be you. Most likely, you will have to watch your diet and maintain fitness levels in order to stay fit and trim, but you can certainly improve your body composition and look great, while occasionally having a splurge. This is a very doable goal, and muscle is a big supporter of that!
How muscle improves the metabolism is the amount of calories it needs in order to be maintained. Muscle is denser than fat; I chuckle to myself when I hear people say 'muscle weighs more than fat', this simply is not true. A pound of muscle weighs just the same as a pound of fat, the difference is, since muscle is denser than fat it takes up less space in the body . Two people could weigh exactly the same, but if one has more muscle than the other, then they will be a smaller size, also the resting metabolic rate would be higher because a pound of muscle burns around 10 kcal per day, while a pound of fat burns only 3 kcals (there is a lot of debate on how many kcals are burned by muscle and fat, some say 35-50 and some say 6-10). This how having more muscle can help you through those times when it proves too tough to say no to that piece of chocolate cake!
You really can always count on muscle to improve the rate of your metabolism. Unlike fad diets, and diet pills, building and maintaining muscle is a proven way to keep that metabolism fired up!
Put it to the test!
A hard-won friend
Best friend relationships take a lot of time, energy, a little bit of sacrifice, and work, in order to maintain that close connection. Even in the beginning, you need to put the time and effort in the friendship just to get to know the person! In the same way building muscle is akin to building a friendship.
Its not easy. I would just like to get that out there. You must make time for the proper amount of workouts per week, you need to eat enough kcals but not too many, and be sure to be eating the macronutrients in the right amounts (if you need more information on nutrition and macronutrients at the bottom of this hub will be a link to: The Three Macronutrients: A Love Story, it will explain the subject matter in more detail), but building muscle is definitely worth it. Cardiovascular exercise aids in revving up the metabolism and also has many health benefits, but the metabolism will be increased only during the workout and a few hours afterwards, muscle building exercises will not only increase the metabolism, but will keep it increased, especially at night when your body is repairing and building up the cells of your muscles which requires calories.
When you lift a challenging amount of weight little tears occur in the muscle, don't be scared, it is perfectly normal- as long as you don't overdo it and hurt yourself. These micro tears are what is being repaired at night. Your body will repair the muscle and then create just a little bit more muscle in order to prevent a tear from happening in the future, this not only takes energy (calories), but this is how the body builds muscle. Over time you will begin to see a visible change!
Get to work!
Let's be friends!
Now you know the truth about metabolism, you are all motivated to go out there and start changing you body composition, but have no idea how to accomplish this goal. Don't worry! I will give a few brief recommendations for a standard exercise routine. Here goes!
1.) Start with a 5 min warm up with cardio of your choice
2.) Increase heart rate with cardio for 15-20 min
3.) Go at a slower pace for 5 min with cardio of your choice
4.) Begin weight lifting portion part of workout
5.) Do 6-8 weight lifting exercises alternating upper body and lower body. I prefer free weights and body weight resistance exercises over the stable weight lifting machines. It is usually more of a challenge and you end up using certain stabilizer muscles you wouldn't ordinarily use with the aid of a machine.
6.) Weight lifting exercises should be 3 sets of 15-20 reps- choose the amount of weight to keep it a challenge, but will enable you to finish all your sets/reps.
7.) 5 min cool down.
I will go more in detail about certain exercises for the major muscle groups in my upcoming hub series Friends of Fitness. So stay tuned!
Facts at a glance!
- The metabolism is the sum of all chemical reactions within the body
- One of these chemical reactions is the catobolism of the energy molecule ATP
- Breaking down of ATP produces heat measured in the form of a calorie
- 1,000 calories make up 1 kilocalorie
- Muscle is denser than fat
- Per pound muscle burns 10 kcals per day while fat burns 3 kcals.
- Muscle is built by the building up, or anabolism of the micro tears in the muscle
- In order to create these micro tears you gotta work!
All in all...
The body is a miraculous biological machine and the metabolism runs a large part of it! We wouldn't be alive without it and without the proper ratio of muscle vs. fat in the body it becomes slow and sluggish, but with the aid of muscle it will stay finely tuned and you will stay fit and trim. It does take work to maintain and build muscle, but it is more than worth it. Besides helping keep your metabolism raring, it aids in posture, helps keep your spine aligned and increases your overall strength so daily tasks aren't nearly as hard anymore.
Good luck on developing the friendship between metabolism and muscle!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.