What is your metabolism?
Your metabolism refers to the chemical processes in your body that convert food into energy. Your body uses this energy to carry out vital functions such as breathing, blood circulation, managing hormone levels, cell growth and regulating body temperature. The number of calories your body uses to perform these functions is called metabolism, also referred to as basal metabolic rate.
Your metabolism is the number of calories your body spends every day to keep you functioning.
We all have a natural metabolism that is to an extent dictated by genetics. Someone with a fast metabolism burns more calories as their body uses more energy to perform vital functions, while someone with a slow metabolism on the other hand, burns less calories to perform the same functions.
How do we measure our metabolism?
It is possible to measure your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of calories you burn when your body is at rest.
To calculate your BMR you can use the following formula or, alternatively, you can use an online BMR calculator tool, such as this one.
The Mifflin - St Jeor Equation(1):
- Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years)
- Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)
Once you have calculated your basal metabolic rate, you can use this information as a guide to help determine your optimal daily caloric intake.
Metabolism as you age
Our metabolism naturally decreases as we age because our muscle mass decreases as we get older. In fact, muscle mass declines by 5 to 10 percent each decade after the age of 30.(2) But how does this affect our metabolism? Muscle burns more calories than fat, therefore the less muscle mass you have the less calories you will burn, causing your metabolism to slow.(3)
Common mistakes that destroy your natural metabolism
• Not getting enough sleep
Lack of sleep disrupts your metabolism causing it to slow down.(4) Poor quality sleep or lack of sleep also results in hormonal imbalances, the hormone ghrelin that signals when to eat is increased, and the hormone leptin that sends the signal that you are full is decreased. This can result in weight gain.
• Not rehydrating in the morning or throughout the day
Dehydration affects your metabolism and rehydrating first thing in the morning, with lemon water or apple cider vinegar diluted in water, kick-starts your metabolism. This can help reduce bloating and increase energy levels. When we are dehydrated, our cells begin to decrease in size and this signals to the body to slow down metabolism.
• Not eating enough protein
Protein keeps you satiated and is a powerful metabolism booster because your body uses more calories to digest protein. If you eat too little protein you will be burning less calories and slowing your metabolism.
Fasting and your metabolism
Crash diets and calorie restriction can wreak havoc on your metabolism and your hormones. Prolonged dieting sends your body into starvation mode. To compensate, your body increases your appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin. The body’s metabolism starts to shut down and thyroid function is inhibited—your thyroid hormones play a vital role in regulating your metabolism. The result is an increased appetite, less energy (5) and a slower metabolism.
Food and drink that boosts your metabolism
Now that we understand what our metabolism is and the common mistakes that we need to avoid, how can we begin to increase our metabolism? People often resort to metabolism pills, but the best place to start is with your diet. Eat foods and consume drinks that will naturally speed up your metabolism. Below is a list to get you started:
Protein— Organic meats, fatty fish, eggs and nuts all rev up your metabolism and put your body into calorie burning mode
Coconut oil— Extra virgin coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides; these are fatty acids that have been proven to boost metabolism (6)
Green tea and oolong tea— Both teas have been proven to increase metabolism (7)
Coffee—Caffeine increases your metabolic rate and stimulates the nervous system, signaling it to burn and break down fats. (8)
Water— Prevents dehydration, which slows the metabolism. Studies show that drinking plenty of water, and drinking cold water, can positively affect your metabolism (9)(10)
Cinnamon— Contains thermogenic properties and helps your body to burn more calories.
Dark chocolate— Contains monounsaturated fats which boost your metabolism, and it also reduces the stress hormone cortisol.
Omega-3 rich foods— Cold water fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and algae all contain omega 3 fatty acids that act as a powerful metabolism booster. (11)
Omega 3 and metabolism
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that our body requires to function but can’t produce on its own. Not only do Omega-3s reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, but they have been proven to increase and help optimize metabolism.(12) (13)
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An exciting new study demonstrates exactly how Omega-3 fatty acids increase metabolism. The study was conducted by Spanish researchers at the Biomedical Research Center Red-Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición(CIBEROBN) of the Institute of Health Carlos III.
“The study shows that Omega-3 fatty acids enable the adaptive thermogenesis (anincrease in the rate of energy expenditure above normal baseline levels) in mammals’ brown adipose tissue.
The main function of brown adipose tissue is to burn calories and to make physical warmth out of fat (thermogenesis). However, brown adipose tissue also acts as an endocrine organ and can secrete factors that activate fat and carbohydrates metabolism. The most known factors up to now are FGF21, neuregulin 4 and interleukin-6, among other molecules of biological interest.
According to researchers, “these molecules, released by the adipose tissue have positive metabolic effects. For this reason, they could be used in new therapies for obesity and related metabolic diseases”.(14)
This study shows that Omega-3 fatty acids have a direct, positive affect on metabolism and the research confirms that these powerful fatty acids are key for boosting your metabolism.
At Xtend-Life we have created several different Omega-3 supplements that contain a highly bio-available form of Omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing your metabolism may now be easier than you think and targeted supplementation with Omega-3s is an effective way to easily speed up your metabolism.