Metabolism. You may know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
Your body is comprised of a series of biochemical reactions. It is an amazing machine that takes in nutrients and oxygen and uses them to fuel everything you do. The word “metabolism” actually describes all those biochemical reactions that an organism, in this case, you, need to live. It’s three main purposes are to: help convert fuel for use in cellular processes, provide building blocks for cell growth and healing, and for elimination processes.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
-Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
-Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heartbeat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
-Allow storage of excess energy for later.
When you put all of these processes together to form your metabolism, sometimes they can work too quickly, too slowly, or (ideally) just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate.”
This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in kilocalories, or more commonly abbreviated to just “calories.”
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
-Fuel physical activity (i.e. work, exercise, and other activities).
-Fuel for biochemical reactions in your body to exist.
-Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine, the more calories you burn as fuel for activities or biochemical processes, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how many calories your body needs just to perform the basic functions to live like your heartbeat, moving your blood through your body, fueling your lungs to breath. Imagine what your body needs to function while you lie in bed without any physical activity; this is your RMR.
Now imagine you get up, go to work, hit an exercise class and later return to bed. Just like a car, your body needed more fuel for those activities. This is where the other energy expenditure measurement comes in. The “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) includes both the resting metabolic rate (RMR) or what you need to just exist AND includes the calories you need to actually function, work or exercise over the course of a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
More than you can imagine!
Age, gender, and body size all play a role. But it isn’t just about size, what is also crucial is body composition.
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.
Sometimes when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Speaking of exercise, physical activity is also important.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work.”
When people have a hard time losing weight, sometimes they will wonder if their thyroid is operating properly. The thyroid gland is located at the front of your throat and releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn. If the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, your metabolism will be impacted. This is a great example of how a hormonal imbalance can impact metabolism.
Other factors which can impact your metabolism might include genetics; environmental changes such as heat or cold variances; certain medications and even dietary intake.
Yes, the type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example, increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off. However, be mindful. This is not an excuse to eat only proteins. Too much protein can actually be tough on your kidneys.
Last, but not least, don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows stress and sleep have an influence as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breast
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old
Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs, and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more roasted, then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
Our bodies are comprised of 50-70% water. A reduction of as little as 1-2% of our body water can result in cognitive issues and increased fatigue. The heat of the summer will drive water losses through sweat, and even more with exercise, all of which can lead to dehydration. So what can you do to make sure you are covered this summer?
Infused water is easy to make and one of my favorite things to do. I typically will toss some fruit or berries into one or more largemouth mason jars and let them infuse overnight, so I am ready for the morning. I like watermelon and basil or mint; slices of grapefruit or blood orange; cucumber, mint and a slice of lime; or just simple lemon water. At a minimum, you will want the mixture to infuse for 3-4 hours. If you are looking for further inspiration, Wellness Mama has some great recipes for this! https://wellnessmama.com/3607/herb-fruit-infused-water/
If you engage in summer exercise, hydration is especially important. But instead of drinking down an athletic drink, which can have 34 grams of sugar (almost as much as a 12 oz soda) and is full of food coloring, why not try one of these healthier alternatives?
No one knows for sure how they became associated with holiday feasts, but historians guess it had something to do with the Native Americans, who used cranberries not only for food and medicine but also to make dyes for clothing and blankets.
Cranberries are native to North America. They are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States (U.S.) and Canada.
Cranberries are a healthful food, due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. They are often referred to as a “super food.” Half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories.
The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.
It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body.
This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits.
Here are 10 health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed in human research studies.
Green tea is more than just green liquid.
Many of the bioactive compounds in the tea leaves do make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients.
It is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants (1).
These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases.
One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.
Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health.
Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive levels of fluoride (2).
That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still far outweigh any risk.
Green tea does more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter.
The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant.
It doesn’t contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the “jittery” effects associated with too much caffeine. Read More
Pomegranate and its distinctive ruby-red jewel-like seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
The Middle Eastern fruit is claimed to be effective against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, including prostate cancer.
Pomegranate is a good source of fiber. It also contains vitamins A, C and E, iron and other antioxidants (notably tannins).
We’ve teamed up with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to examine whether the health claims made about the fruit are supported by the evidence.
A 2013 study found evidence that pomegranate strengthened bones and helped prevent osteoporosis. The catch was the study involved mice, not humans.
While the biology of mice and humans are surprisingly similar, we can never be sure that these results will be applicable to us.
One small study from 2006 found that drinking a daily 227ml (8oz) glass of pomegranate juice significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer in men with recurring prostate cancer. This was a well-conducted study, but more are needed to support these findings.
A more recent study from 2013 looked at whether giving men pomegranate extract tablets prior to surgery to remove cancerous tissue from the prostate would reduce the amount of tissue that needed to be removed. The results were not statistically significant, meaning they could have been down to chance.
A good-quality study from 2004 on patients with carotid artery stenosis (narrowed arteries) found that a daily 50ml (1.7oz) glass of pomegranate juice over three years reduced the damage caused by cholesterol in the artery by almost half, and also cut cholesterol build-up. However, these effects are not clearly understood and the study did not say what the results mean for conditions such as stroke.
Everyone knows that bananas boast high amounts of potassium, but two small peaches or nectarines have more of the essential mineral than one medium banana, boosting nerve and muscle health. The skins, in particular, are rich in antioxidants and insoluble fiber. And for those watching their weight, peaches are a healthy way to add sweetness to any diet. Bake, broil, or poach them to create pies, cobblers, and other desserts.
Grilled, frozen, dried, or fresh, this sweet and tangy tropical fruit is jam-packed with bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as increase fertility. Try these other inflammation-fighting foods.
As one of the world’s oldest and most abundant fruit crops, grapes have been proven to ward off heart disease and high cholesterol, thanks to high levels of the antioxidants quercetin and resveratrol. Each little bulb is also a great source of potassium and iron, which prevent muscle cramps and anemia. Stick with the purple or red kind, as they contain the highest concentration of healthy compounds. Read Full Article
While deaths due to heart disease have dropped in recent years, it’s still the No. 1 killer of Americans. The good news is that we now know a ton about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes and heart attacks.
It’s clear that healthy eating and living (like exercising more!) can make a huge difference.
Read on to see what you should be including in your diet to keep your ticker happy for decades to come.
Computer screens, dogs, your paycheck: Some things should only come in size XL. But at snack time, smaller really is better. A mere 100 calories can satisfy you until your next meal, but that amount is frustratingly hard to eyeball. You could pay the more than 100 percent markup some companies charge for 100-cal snack packs—or simply keep these delish, nutritionist-approved treats on hand. Click through for 28 delish healthy snacks!
Lunch left something to be desired? This savory dish will make your taste buds happy.
Pop this vitamin-rich fudgy treat before a morning meeting and that Danish won’t look so damn good.
Score your caffeine fix along with a hunger-crushing 10-gram shot of protein and about a third of your daily calcium needs.
Naturally prepackaged goodness you can take anywhere, with the added benefit of cramp-preventing potassium.
Eating this protein-packed pick-me-up out of the shell will help make the healthy snack last longer.
Go ahead, nibble mindlessly as you zone out in front of Bravo. Even if you’re watching trash, you won’t be eating it. Read Full Article
1. Opt for wholegrains
Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from an adequate, steady supply of energy – in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Achieve this by choosing wholegrains with a low-GI, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Opt for ‘brown’ wholegrain cereals, granary bread, rice and pasta.
2. Eat oily fish
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body which means they must be obtained through diet. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish in the form of EPA and DHA. Good plant sources include linseed (flaxseed), soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and their oils. These fats are important for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and our general wellbeing. What makes oily fish so good is that they contain the active form of these fats, EPA and DHA, in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers. Low DHA levels have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss whilst having sufficient levels of both EPA and DHA is thought to help us manage stress and helps make the good mood brain chemical, serotonin. Consider a supplement if you’re vegetarian. Those following a vegan diet may wish to supplement daily with a plant-based omega-3 supplement, and as a vegan don’t forget to add seeds like linseed and chia to your diet.
3. Snack on blueberries
Evidence accumulated at Tufts University in the United States suggests that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss. They’re widely available, but you can also look out for dark red and purple fruits and veg which contain the same protective compounds called anthocyanins.
There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Favour cooked tomatoes and enjoy with a little olive oil to optimise absorption and efficacy. Read Full Article
They can provide everything you need—protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits—all in a to-go cup.
(For a versatile, ultra-nutritious protein you can use in these recipes, check out this whey protein powder from the Men’s Health store.)
Even better: Shakes may be the fastest food of all. “There’s no prep work, no cooking, no cleanup. Just put stuff in a blender and go,” says Brian St. Pierre, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., sports dietitian and nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition.
St. Pierre drinks a smoothie every morning as one of his four daily meals. But you can have one to replace lunch or dinner, help you recover after a workout, hold you over between meals, or satisfy a sweet craving. Try these 20 delicious, protein-packed options, all created by top nutritionists. Read More