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Burn, Baby, Burn

Understanding the way

our bodies utilize nutrients to create, release, and use energy is an essential part of overall well-being. Optimizing our metabolism is an important component to proper weight control, vital organ function, muscle maintenance, and healthy skin.

Things you need to know:

(1) Understanding Resting Metabolic Rate

(2) Maintaining a high metabolic rate

(3) Burning the right calories at the right time

Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy released and used for the function of your vital organs: heart, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, liver, intestines, sex organs, muscle tissue, brain, and skin.

Maintaining a high metabolic rate will be essential in long term weight control. To maintain lean muscle tissue, your body will expend seven times as much energy compared to fat tissue. Therefore, individuals who carry a lot of lean muscle mass will have higher metabolic rates than those with lower amounts of lean mass.

Resistance Training → Any proper weight loss / management program should incorporate some type of resistance training.

Although resistance training is not proven to directly result in weight loss, there is evidence that increasing your muscle mass will increase your resting metabolic rate. This does not mean you need to become “big”, a power lifter, or some kind of gym fanatic.

Simply put, if you incorporate total body movements, working every major muscle group 2-3x/week you will increase your lean tissue, thus increasing your metabolic rate. Cardiovascular exercise does not have any effect on the rate at which we burn at rest, but it does affect the types of calories we burn. Stay tuned!

Eat! → Caloric restriction diets, although show evidence of good initial weight loss, they are terrible for our metabolic rates. Caloric restriction diets have an enormous weight regain component that are not a sufficient long term weight control method. When we restrict calories well below our metabolic rate, our bodies will adjust to that.

*For instance, if you drop your caloric intake to 1200 calories/day, your metabolic rate will eventually slow to the point of 1200 calories/day, because you are telling your body that is all it needs to burn to maintain bodily functions. Thus, after you achieve weight loss and start to eat more, say 2000 calories/day, your metabolic rate is in the dumps at 1200 calories/day and then you put on weight at a staggering rate! Think of it as a fire. If there is no wood in the fire, it won’t be burning. I will get into the types of calories to eat in the next section.

When our bodies are at rest we want to use fat as our fuel source. During moderate-to-high intensity exercise, our bodies like to work mostly off of carbohydrates. One main point to take note of – your carbohydrate intake should directly correlate with the amount and intensity of physical activity or exercise you are doing. If you are a regular exerciser, you should eat more carbohydrates than if you are a sedentary individual.

Carbohydrates and Fats → Your body will take carbohydrate every time over fats for energy production. It is converted most easily by the body for energy production. Therefore, eating a diet high in carbohydrate and sugar you will likely have trouble keeping weight off.

*Fat breakdown and use are suppressed when there are high amounts of carbs and sugars in the body. This is partly why diabetics have a hard time losing weight. They have excess sugar constantly floating around their blood stream that prevents them from ever burning their fat stores.

Ideally at rest (including during sleep), you want to be burning fat, which helps with your weight management. But, if you spend the majority of your day working off carbs you have eaten, your suppressed fat metabolism will make it incredibly difficult to achieve an improved body composition. No I am not declaring war on carbohydrates like Dr. Atkins, but once again, you should base your carbohydrate intake on the amount of activity you are doing! No or little activity + moderate or high carbohydrate intake is a quick way to gain unwanted weight.

Cardiovascular Exercise → If you are eating a diet high in carbohydrates, you should be exercising regularly (remember we burn carbs when we exercise), so that we can optimize the amount of time we spend burning fat. When the carbohydrates are used up, our body will pull from our fat stores for energy production and this will be how we decrease or “burn” our fat mass.

Protein → Probably the most important part of this whole equation, aside from exercise, and there is far too much information about it to go into too much depth here. Maintaining a high protein diet when exercising will ensure that you do not break down lean muscle tissue for energy production. Remember, we want to maintain our lean mass to keep our metabolic rate high!

More specifics on each of the above topics coming in later posts.

Have a good week!

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