Can You Increase Your Metabolism? What You Should Know
If you’ve ever embarked on a fitness journey, you’ve probably thought about whether or not you can increase your metabolism? As with most highly hyped physiological processes, many people have made claims that they’ve found the ultimate key to eliminating extra weight and taking back their life.
But, not everything is as clear-cut as these salespeople state. Our metabolism is a complex process! In today’s article, we’ll examine how it works (and whether or not you can control it!)
But first, let’s understand what exactly human metabolism is.
Metabolism and diets
Simply put, metabolism is the set of physical and chemical reactions that occur at the cellular level. All living beings have it! In today’s article, we’ll see if it’s possible to actually increase it.
Increasing your metabolism is one of the main goals of weight-loss diets. Many people think that accelerated metabolism will make it easier to eat more without getting fat, or even losing fat in the process!
Of course, when these statements usually come from people trying to sell you something, we should analyze it carefully. In order to do this, we need to understand the physiological processes behind metabolism.
What is metabolism?
As we already stated, the metabolism is the set of physical and chemical processes and reactions that take place at the cell level. This includes many different types of reactions that allow the cells to nourish, grow and divide. In turn, this lets your body function daily. Even if we just lay in bed all day, our metabolism is working to keep us alive.
Of course, these reactions that take place inside the cell are very diverse. Nevertheless, we can broadly classify them into two types:
- Catabolic reactions or catabolism: these reactions break up different complex compounds to obtain simpler ones. Catabolism is also the main factor responsible for creating energy. An example of this type of reaction is glycolysis or the oxidation of fatty acids.
- Anabolic reactions or anabolism: this is the opposite of the latter. These reactions use energy to build complex elements from simpler ones. An example of these reactions is the synthesis of proteins from amino acids.
In short, metabolism is the constant reactions that make your body function.
Basal metabolic rate and types of metabolism
That said, metabolism is the set of reactions that generate and spend energy in the form of calories. The food we consume is the main way our body has to produce energy to function. Because of this, you need to eat properly and every day.
Even if you aren’t moving, your body is working to keep you alive. This “keeping alive” process involves specific energy needs that you should fulfill through your diet. The minimum energy needed to live is the basal metabolic rate. Of course, this rate is variable and different in each person.
Based on this concept, there are different types of metabolisms. For example, there are people with more “saver” metabolisms, who tend to spend fewer calories a day. On the other hand, there are more “wasteful” people that use more energy.
Because of this, some people can eat anything and won’t gain weight, while others seem to just eat healthily and still put on more pounds.
The three metabolic types
In general, we can classify people in three broad metabolic categories. Of course, these are also associated with a tendency towards a certain physique.
Evidently, each type has its advantages and downturns, so it’s interesting to know ours. If you understand what your body’s natural tendencies are, you’ll be able to tailor your meals to fit that.
- ‘Saver’ phenotype. As we mentioned, these people spend less energy. In turn, they accumulate calories more easily in the form of fat. However, this easiness to save energy will also benefit them. Savers have an easier time building muscle mass. This is associated with the endomorph physical type.
- ‘Wasteful’ phenotype. These people are those who eat everything they want without getting fat since their body spends almost everything. They don’t accumulate any fat! However, they have a hard time gaining muscle mass. This one corresponds to the ectomorph physical type.
- ‘Mixed’ phenotype. Evidently, this is the most balanced. Mixing things from both previous types, this one is somewhere in between. It corresponds to the mesomorph physical type.
Can you increase your metabolism?
This question has an easy answer, but it deserves some explanation.
Yes, you can increase your metabolism. Nevertheless, you can’t change the way in which your body stores and spends energy. This is a genetic trait and will stay relatively the same throughout your entire life.
This means that starting from a different basal metabolic rate, two people can increase their burned calories equally. However, a person with a more ‘saver’ phenotype can never burn as many calories as one with a tendency to spend more calories.
Ways to increase metabolism
Because you can actually boost your metabolism, we’ll offer some general guidelines. Simply put, these tips will increase your daily caloric use and facilitate your fat loss goals.
- Performing high-intensity physical exercise. In turn, this increases our caloric use due to the COPD effect. Briefly put, you’ll be out of breath and oxygen, making your body spend more calories trying to restore normal functions.
- Adding metabolism stimulants to your diet. These can be substances such as caffeine or theine. In turn, these slightly increase our daily caloric expenditure.
- Strength exercise that promotes muscle growth. Muscle is an “expensive” tissue to maintain for the body, so this will increase the calories you spend daily.
- Getting enough rest is essential for high metabolism. Researchers link poor sleep to an excess of stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones have the opposite effect and will make your metabolism slower.
Finally, keep in mind that improving overall health increases the synthesis of very active hormones, such as sex or growth hormone. That’s why it’s so important to add healthy habits to our lives!It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Farr OM, Camp M, Mantzoros CS. New research developments and insights from metabolism. Vol. 64, Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental. W.B. Saunders; 2015. p. 354–67.
- Galgani J, Ravussin E. Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation. Vol. 32, International Journal of Obesity. 2008.