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A Word on Metabolism

Posted May 15 2008 4:03pm

One of the most important things you need to be concerned about when you’re trying to gain or lose weight is how your metabolism functions. What is metabolism, exactly? In the most simple terms it can be described as the process your body uses to break down the food you eat for either energy or storage. A person with a high metabolism will use a greater portion for energy, while a person with a lower metabolism will store a greater portion, mostly as fat.

What drives where your metabolism is set, then? If it’s low, can you make it high? Are you doomed to a life of being overweight? The unfortunate answer is that metabolism is extremely complex and that we really don’t understand it all that well But there are some things we do know.

For example, your metabolism is driven by a huge array of factors, including:

  • Your age, height, weight, gender, and the genes you’ve inherited from your ancestors
  • How big your meals are and how often you eat them, and the food choices you make
  • Exposure to toxins in the environment
  • Your activity level (how much you exercise)

Can you have a positive effect on your metabolism? Absolutely! Here are some ways:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals during the day. You’d be surprised at how big an impact this can have, you just need to be sure not to eat similar sized meals more frequently during the day. Then you’ll be adding calories instead of simply spreading them out.
  • Eliminate toxins around you, including those in processed foods. Take a look at the label of the foods you eat. If you can’t pronounce it or know what it is, you probably don’t want to eat it. A good example is MSG, which is in many foods (and often not listed directly as MSG), and is actually used by researchers to create obese rats for testing. No joke.
  • Exercise early and often. Early morning exercise seems to burn more fat than later day exercise, but do whatever you can. And lift weights, as weight training has been shown to maintain an elevated metabolism for longer after you’re done than does aerobic exercise. But aerobic exercise is important too, it helps train your body on how to use fat for energy. Exercise at least 3 days a week, but daily is better.

There’s not much you can do about the genetic factors, although if you do the things listed above you’ll have gone a long way toward minimizing the affect you genes have on your metabolism.

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