Metabolism is essentially the combination of chemical changes and reactions that occur in our living cells to create energy required for various bodily functions and activities. It is our metabolism that gives us our energy to keep our bodies functioning.
The efficiency of the metabolism is determined by the food that is used to convert into fuel, as well as how well our bodies burn that fuel. How fast or slow our metabolism burns calories and fat directly impacts how quickly we are able to gain or lose weight. Thus, in order to get the best results from our diet and exercise, maximizing our metabolism is crucial. A variety of factors affect our metabolic rate. Many of these factors are out of our control, including age, gender, and heredity. However, there are other factors that we can control to help maximize the speed and efficiency of our metabolism.
The Effect of Afterburn or 'EPOC' on Your Metabolism
The "Afterburn Effect" is a reaction that your body has in response to high intensity exercise. Otherwise known as 'EPOC' - which is short for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption - the afterburn effect raises your metabolic rate not only during strenuous exercise, but also as much as 24 hours after exercise has ceased. Your body's energy expenditure doesn't return to its pre-exercise resting level right after intense exercise.
The amount of this EPOC is directly dependent on the intensity of the exercise, as opposed to the duration. The metabolic boost that comes with EPOC is associated with the recovery required by your body after you have completed your workout. This recovery includes restoring muscle glycogen stores, eliminating lactic acid build up, repairing muscle fibers damaged during strenuous exercise, and so forth. Since these processes require energy, your body will require a certain number of calories to carry out these events, thus giving your metabolic rate a boost for hours after your high intensity workout has ended.
Eat Breakfast Every Morning
Eating a healthy breakfast is one of the first things you should do to give your metabolism a boost. Your body has gone through a number of hours without food. Since your body is not getting any food throughout this time period, your metabolism slows down to accommodate the decrease in cellular functioning. By skipping breakfast, your body will believe that it is still in a state of "fasting" and will keep its metabolic rate low as a result. By feeding your body a healthy breakfast, your body's metabolism will elevate in response to the calories being consumed.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
The typical family meal structure usually involves 3 structured meals per day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, this type of meal plan isn't necessarily conducive to keeping your metabolic rate up. Instead, too much time in between large-portion meals can have a negative impact on your metabolism. Letting too much time pass before you fuel your body with healthy food can actually slow your metabolism down as your body recognizes the lack of food and starts to conserve energy stores by slowing down the metabolic rate. In addition, the portions eaten in such infrequent meals tend to be much larger than what is recommended.
Excessive amounts of food at mealtime will overload the body and provide it with more calories than it needs, thus increasing the likelihood of gaining weight. Instead, by eating smaller meals more frequently, you are constantly fueling your fat and calorie-burning metabolic furnace by constantly giving your body small amounts of food to burn off. Not only does this help to boost your metabolism, it also helps to prevent sugar spikes that are often combined with the temptation to eat unhealthy foods and give in to destructive cravings.
Smaller, more frequent meals - such as 6 times per day - help to normalize blood sugar levels and prevent any sugar crashes throughout the day, keeping you feeling fuller for longer periods of time without becoming lethargic midday. One of the best ways to maximize your metabolism is to maintain a regular exercise regimen. As the energy required by your body to carry out certain activities increases, so does your metabolism. In particular, high intensity exercise has a greater effect on boosting your metabolism, particularly in the hours following exercise, as noted earlier.
Weight lifting also has a great effect on increasing the body's metabolic rate even while at rest. Muscle tissue has a very high metabolic rate. The more muscle tissue you have on your body, the more fat and calories you can burn even hours after you have completed a workout. Keeping a resistance training regimen as part of your exercise routine can help to keep your metabolism elevated and make your body's fat and calorie-burning furnace more efficient.
The Bottom Line
Increasing your metabolic rate has lasting effects on how efficiently you are able to burn fat and calories. Although there are certain things we cannot control when it comes to our metabolism, we can manipulate our diet and exercise regime to increase its efficiency. By employing certain techniques, we can maximize our metabolic rate to promote a heathy, fit body.
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