In my previous articles, I have often used the term “Metabolism” in my sentences. I already see some wondering, what is behind this technical term ? You should know that it represents a very important concept that governs everything that happens within the body, from a caloric point of view. Understanding how it works will allow you to take better control of your body and take one more step towards your goal of physical transformation (weight gain / loss). In this post, I share with you basic tips to better understand the metabolism, which is still not easy to understand.
The body, like a machine
To better understand this notion of metabolism, I will ask you to imagine that the body is a machine. Who says a machine, says need of energy to be able to function correctly and do the task which we awaits from it. This energy comes from food consumed during the day and transformed by the digestive system. Every function of the body (even the most basic) consumes precisely a quantity of this energy. Therefore, the metabolism is simply the total energy consumption to be able to perform all the operations necessary for the body. We also often hear about “basic metabolism rate” (BMR). It just means the amount of energy necessary for the survival of the body without taking into account the external energy expenditure linked to movement, training, …
Anabolism Vs Catabolism
Now that we have a better understanding of what metabolism is, it is important to master two essential aspects that revolve around it : anabolism and catabolism. Depending on the physical goal you are looking for, you must ensure that one or the other occurs to achieve the desired result. If you want to gain weight and especially build muscle fibers, muscle anabolism should be encouraged. It can only occur if an individual has a caloric intake that is greater than the capacity of their metabolism to expend energy. Just forget about wanting to trigger anabolism by eating less than your metabolic need.
In the other hand, if the goal is weight loss (mainly fat), catabolism should be triggered. This will happen simply by consuming an amount of calories slightly less than your metabolic need. The goal will therefore be to roughly determine what calorie range allows you to be either anabolic or catabolic. I invite you to look at my nutrition post, and try different types of diet programs to make it happen. As soon as this is achieved, I could congratulate you. You have better control of your body now !
Slow Vs Fast
Each individual is different, we agree ! So I can guarantee you that metabolism is no exception to this rule. Everyone’s genetic programming comes into play and imposes a fast or slow metabolism (or in between). But before venturing further, let’s remember what a fast and slow metabolism is. Having a fast metabolism simply means having a great capacity to expend energy (even while sleeping :D).
In contrast, a slow metabolic profile means a relatively low capacity to burn calories. This obviously affects the amount of food to eat. So someone with a fast metabolism has to send a lot of caloric dishes to hope that his weight moves on the scale, when losing weight is just a game for him. His neighbor having a slower metabolism, must restrict his caloric intake much more to achieve weight loss, but has a tendency to gain it easily.
Then there is a third family of people gifted by nature, the average metabolism. As its name makes clear, this type is located between the two previous ones and gives you all their benefits : a balance between the ability to lose weight and gain it. Although the speed of metabolism is a characteristic linked to the major part of genetics, there are ways to optimize it and make it naturally faster : See you in the next section !
How to optimize your metabolism ?
I conclude this post by providing you with my best tips for optimizing your metabolism just by changing a few habits in your daily life, but which you will have to keep for the long term. The first enemy against a proven metabolism is alcohol, precisely excessive and frequent consumption. Avoiding or greatly reducing consumption will be your weapon. Second, gaining muscle mass will dramatically boost metabolic speed. In a logical scheme, having more muscle increases the energy need to maintain it, and therefore results in a faster metabolism. An amount of calories that made you gain weight before, will barely allow you to maintain your new muscle mass.
When going on a diet, avoid overly restrictive diets and cutting out the good sources of fat. A large restriction ends up slowing the metabolism and will not necessarily have the desired effect. Rather a gradually reduce of carbohydrates and an increase calorie expenditure through training (and cardio). Finally, I will not stop always reminding you that taking special care with nutrition and sleep is very essential !