‘You can alter your metabolism.’ True or false? Let’s just say it’s complicated. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of calories your body naturally burns everyday to carry out the essential chemical processes needed to survive. What it doesn’t include, however, is additional calories burned through exercise and general daily movement. BMR depends on a number of factors: height, age, weight, gender but also relies on a couple of key fundamental truths.
The first truth is that muscle burns more calories than fat. This is because muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue. This explains why people tend to feel their metabolism slowing down as they are getting older because we lose our muscle over time. It also explains a classic mistake some dieters using weight watchers programs that promote a harsh restriction in protein and nutrients suffer from: when your body is in a calorie deficit it will burn off muscle as it takes up the most energy in the body, less muscle will result in your BMR lowering meaning you’ll have to consume less and less calories the further along your diet you get. That’s why it’s better to have a high protein, low carb and sugar diet with the supplementation of resistance exercise to raise your muscle mass and increase your metabolism.
The second fundamental truth is that you can’t cheat your metabolism. No matter what people tell you, your metabolic rate won’t change unless you alter the weight and muscularity of your body. What you can do however, is hack your calorie intake and expenditure. Diet is unavoidably the best way to ensure continuous weight loss. Avoiding high calorie meals full of carbohydrates and sugars doesn’t actually mean you have to go hungry.
Gram for gram protein, which will boost muscle growth, contains less calories than fat by a ratio of 4 to 9 and is equally satiating meaning a high protein diet will leave you satisfied throughout the day without being in a calorie surplus. There are also some cheat foods that you might think are bad for you but actually aren’t. Low calorie versions of popcorn, for instance, is actually very low in calories despite it being relatively filling making it a great treat which won’t compromise your diet. To effectively lose weight you need to do more than just what ‘slim fast’ tell you to do, you need to understand which foods are calorie dense and which aren’t. Food isn’t the enemy, it’s a tool and understanding all its secrets is the best hack to weight loss.
Some supplements which are micronutrients rich can also help you feel healthy and therefore keep you on track. Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 for instance are necessary for effective metabolic processes to take place so taking a vitamin B supplements can be advantageous. Other supplements rich in dietary fibre and acetic acid such as apple cider vinegar supplements can actually stop the breakdown of some foods which means they’ll pass through your digestive track without the calories being absorbed which can aid weight loss when not in a calorie deficit. These are a few of the ways we can think about calories coming in and out of our body. Having a full grasp of that is the key to hacking our metabolisms, it’s not magic but it is highly effective when we have the right information.