Do you suspect that you have a ‘bad’ metabolism? Is your ‘slow’ metabolism stopping you from losing weight?
If you have ever tried to lose weight I am sure you will have heard the fancy word metabolism along the way. It is often blamed as this magical and complex thing which decides who will be skinny and who will be fat. Like with many things health and fitness, people often over complicate the simple stuff and simplify the complicated stuff. This is mainly due to a lack of understanding or misinformation.
Metabolism falls into the category of something that is complex being oversimplified and misunderstood
So what does metabolism mean?
It is a set of chemical processes that take place in the cells of our body. These processes keep us alive and allow us to grow, break down and respond to our environment. It also dictates the amount of calories that your body can burn or requires within a day.
There are 3 main roles that our metabolism is responsible for:
1. Convert food/fuel into energy for our cells to function (Catabolism / burning energy)
2. Convert food/fuel into new structures of our body (Anabolism / storing energy)
3. Eliminate waste
Every second of the day our metabolic processes are continually breaking things down, building new things, converting one thing to another and eliminating toxic or unnecessary waste. For example, if our body is running low on glucose (carbohydrate in the blood) or glycogen (stored carbohydrates) it can break down muscle tissue and convert it into glucose. Another example is the creation of ketones to replace glucose when following a keto style diet. These are just 2 examples of the thousands of various metabolic processes that occur in our body.
For optimal health and a great physique, understanding what metabolism actually means is important.
So what regulates our metabolism and can it be ‘fast’ or ‘slow’?
Hormones are the key regulators of our metabolism, especially when it comes to the burning and storing of energy and ultimately fat loss or fat gain. The key metabolic hormones that regulate fat loss and fat gain are:
– Cortisol (short term fat loss/ long term fat gain)
– Epinephrine (short term fat loss/ long term fat gain)
– Testosterone (fat loss)
– Growth Hormone (fat loss)
– Insulin (fat gain)
– Estrogen (fat gain)
– Thyroid Hormones (fat loss)
– Leptin (fat loss)
– Ghrelin (fat gain)
As you can see there is a number of hormones that can sway the metabolic processes towards burning energy or storing energy. It is vital to know these hormones, what they do and how to influence them if your goal is to improve your physique. Making a statement such as “I have a bad metabolism” is far too general and conclusive. A more accurate assessment could be that 1 or more of these hormones are out of balance or not conducive to your goal. The answer to fixing the problem lies within your nutrition, training and lifestyle. Various nutrition, lifestyle and training systems can influence these hormones in different ways. A good trainer can assess a client and see what changes need to be made.
Here’s where the hard part is.
Every body is built differently and that certainly means that everyone has a unique metabolism. It is possible to have a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolism and this can highlight differences in how to structure nutrition, training and lifestyle. A ‘fast’ metabolism means that the conversion of food or fuel into energy or storage happens at a fast rate. A ‘slow’ metabolism means that these processes happen at a slower rate. The speed at which your body processes food/fuel doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat less or more, it means that you will see better results with a particular nutrition strategy.
Metabolic rate is a combination of genetic factors, potential differences in hormones, various nutrition and lifestyle habits and age. This means that metabolism is not set forever. It can change depending on how the body is being influenced. Our requirements for various nutrients, training or lifestyle practices can change over time.
Now here is the million dollar question. Do you have a ‘bad’ metabolism?
Short answer is no. It is very well possible that your body isn’t functioning anywhere near as well as it should. This could be resulting in excess fat gain, poor energy or many other ailments. For a lot of people, this is reality. That doesn’t mean it will be like that for the rest of your life. There are plenty of changes you can make to improve the way your body functions and the answers are simpler than you think.
When trying to optimise a client’s physique and performance, below are the key areas I look to help my clients improve:
Improving these areas in your life will drastically improve all of your internal metabolic processes. This will lead to greater health and better results.
What is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your metabolism?
Eat more food (whole foods)
But how can eating more food help me lose body fat?
That is the complexity of metabolism and the issue with over simplifying things. Eating less doesn’t guarantee fat loss or a good physique. One of the greatest things as a trainer is mystifying clients with great fat loss even though they are eating double the calories as what they use to. It’s also a beautiful thing to see people get great results who once thought they were destined for a life of being overweight because they thought they were born with a ‘bad’ metabolism.
The take away point is this. You are not doomed by a ‘bad’ metabolism. Good nutrition, training and lifestyle practices specific to you will always produce great results. A great trainer can help save you a lot of trial and error by showing you what to avoid and what to do.