Studies show the fate of your body fat and metabolism are intertwined. You can’t alter one without impacting the other. So how can you ensure the latter is working correctly to favourably alter the former? Well, the honest answer is with great difficulty. This is because the word metabolism is casually thrown around gyms the world over as modern man trials many weird and wonderful ways to “jack it up”.
But the reality is very few truly realise what it means. Cue a quick biology lesson…
Now, in simple terms, the word metabolism is used to describe all the small chemical reactions — and therefore energy expended — involved in keeping us alive. Basically if you lay in bed perfectly still and didn’t move a muscle for an entire day, the calories you’d burn from just staying alive would be your basal metabolic rate.
That’s it on its simplest level, but worth noting is the research from the University of Florida that states, “The rate of energy expenditure (metabolic rate) is highly variable because it is influenced by many factors.” What this means is counting calories and your metabolic rate won’t always result in fat loss. Yes, it may help. But we’re not perfect mechanical equations, we’re more like mystical organic factories with an orchestra of biochemical reactions firing within us every second of every day.
Therefore we’re can’t strictly control our metabolisms, at best we can only influence it.
#1. Learn the Art of the “Cheat Meal”
Hearing the word, “binge” can sometimes conjure up negative connotations. Images of people crying into a biscuit tin suffering from gluttonous guilt spring to mind. But nutritional science shows if you learn the art of the binge it can actually be a useful nutritional tool to have in your dietary arsenal.
This is all thanks to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology that wanted to analyse the effect calorie restriction had on our thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones — called T4 and T3 — play a key role in the management of our metabolism so when they discovered, “during caloric restriction, transport of T4 and T3 into tissues is diminished” it didn’t spell good news for those wanting to lose fat.
Essentially, hamster food will leave you hormonally handicapped to burn fat.
But never fear, research published in the nutritional journal, “Effectors of Thermogenesis” states, “serum thyroid levels are increased by over nutrition.” Emphasis on the words, “over nutrition” which means that huge, tactical, weekly homemade burger could hold the key to up- regulating your fat burning hormones and get your metabolism firing how it should.
#2. Go Big or Go Home
Bicep curls and calf raises aren’t without their merits and will of course serve a purpose in most gym routines. But dramatically increasing your metabolic rate might not be one of them. This is based on a study conducted at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University that wanted to analyse energy expenditure — and subjects metabolisms — after heavy resistance training.
What they found was after a 90-minute strength training session that included large, compound movements, the male subject&s metabolic rate remained high for a prolonged period and may enhance post exercise lipid oxidation. What this means is the bigger and heavier weights you lift in the gym, the more you will benefit from an elevated metabolism long after.
#3. Learn to Go Green
This next tip is a little left-field but a 12-week study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that overweight subjects who drank green tea before exercise enjoyed an increased rate of burning fat. Important to note is this didn’t simply “rev up” the metabolism, but rather helped it work more efficiently.
Scientists believe this was all due to a natural chemical compound found in the tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG for short). Linked to a long list of health benefits, this study and a meta-analysis — a study of many studies — published in the International Journal of Obesity concluded, “Epigallocatechin gallate has a small positive effect on weight loss and weight maintenance” due to its ability to encourage the body to use our fat as a source of energy.
Don’t like the taste? Never fear, there are green tea tablets.
#4. Pour Yourself a Coffee
On the topic of kettle-based fat loss, try pouring yourself a coffee. This is because one cup of coffee contains around 90mg of caffeine and caffeine has been found in thousands of studies to speed up the metabolism. Worth noting is experts don’t know exactly how it does this, but one theory proposed by scientists from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada is it, “Enhances fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen by creating a more favourable intracellular ionic environment in active muscle”.
In summary, the laws of human biology are nonlinear. We cannot strictly control them. At best we can influence them. Our metabolic rate is of course not exempt from this rule of Mother Nature, but hopefully these research-backed tips help explain how you can give your internal physiological environment a helping hand.