Every week it seems that a new ‘metabolism boosting’ ad that is too-good-to-be-true pops up on social media.
This topic is more confusing than ever, and women are posting questions about it all the time. For example, this question has been coming up repeatedly: “What is your favorite product for energy and metabolism support?
Hold on to your food scale.
What is metabolism and why does it need support?
Metabolism is defined as “the sum of the physical and chemical processes by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.” (dictionary.com)
Why is this person trying to support her energy and metabolism? Energy is defined as the “capacity for vigorous activity.”
How exactly does one go about ‘supporting’ metabolism?
Don’t fall for it.
The terms “energy support” and “metabolism support” are marketing terms aimed at frightening consumers into thinking they are missing out on some magic potion that is going to make them burn calories like a pink wind-up rabbit in a battery ad.
History is a good teacher. Looking back in time, weight loss products have been marketed for over a century, and yet people are more obese than ever. Right now on Amazon, there are numerous weight loss supplements, soaps and even a breathing exerciser that promises to slim your abdomen.
Ladies and Gents, you are a smart crowd, but savvy marketing can often push your pain buttons and cause impulsive buying.
The truth is, you CAN make your metabolism work in your favor to support a lean physique. But there are reasons why most people will not bother with this no-nonsense approach. Most people are too impatient and eager to achieve quick results.
The quick results may come at the expense of emptying your bank account, but they are not without a dark side. Quick weight loss always always always reduces both fat AND precious lean muscle.
The result is a sluggish metabolism that is less responsive. The body will actually hoard energy in the form of fat storage, in anticipation of another starvation episode. (aka another diet).
What can you do to support your metabolism?
The answer is so simple. It is not in potions pills or breathalyzers. The only way to preserve your metabolism is to maintain lean muscle mass.
If you do nothing to preserve your lean muscle you will lose it. This is called sarcopenia, and it is responsible for a loss of 3-5% lean muscle per decade, beginning at age 30. This means less energy is needed to maintain size and shape.
This is bad news for foodies and couch potatoes.
Follow the guide below to help keep your metabolism youthful. Keep in mind that a slow and steady approach supports a healthy metabolism. Fast weight loss eats away at lean muscle and leads to a lower calorie requirement.
#1 Nutrition: Eat well for your own body.
Don’t skimp on carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the best pre-workout food because the more energy that is available for a workout, the more total energy will be burned.
The harder the workout, the more calories you will burn overall if you have some energy available, to begin with. Fat tissue is not available in a fasted workout, because that fat is not circulating in the bloodstream. Energy has to be circulating to get into the muscles to provide energy. Eat fast digesting carbs before your training sessions.
How many carbs are ideal? This is highly individualistic. Don’t complicate it. Just pick an amount, be consistent, and note how your body reacts. After two weeks if you made progress without feeling starved, exhausted or hangry, you are on the right track. If not make some changes and be consistent again for two weeks. It is not rocket science.
#2 Pump Iron: Exercise with resistance.
This is the next most important metabolism supporter. Why? Sarcopenia… aka muscle loss. The best way to keep your metabolism revving like it did your teens and twenties, is to avoid or reverse sarcopenia. This is achieved with consistent resistance training.
Ladies, I have news for you. You cannot get bulky! It is not possible without excessive amounts of testosterone and growth hormone. The ‘bulk’ that you feel is fat over swollen muscle. Be consistent with nutrition and training, and the fat layer will thin out. Muscle is never bulky on a lean woman
Training with resistance to maintain and replace muscle lost due to sarcopenia is necessary for metabolism support. Training actually helps you keep your curves and allows you to eat in your 30’s and beyond like you did in your 20’s. If there is a magic answer, it is lifting weights. (make them heavier than your purse)
Cardio is lower on the pyramid, yet still important. The take away here is to do cardio, but don’t think that extra cardio will forgive sins in the kitchen or count as a resistance workout. A proven approach is to get in 30-minutes of relaxing cardio daily.
Activities like walking jogging or cycling or a dance class are great. Walking the dog counts! The point here is to move in a manner that is stress reducing. Daily cardio with a friend, a podcast or in silence will help keep your stress hormones in check. Unchecked stress hormones equate to more fat storage, especially around the middle.
A body burns massive calories in recovery mode. It is important to allow the body to recover sufficiently from workouts. There is no benefit in skipping rest days, and in fact, it can be detrimental. A body that is not fully recovered cannot perform well. Alternate muscle groups to allow for recovery and training session on consecutive days. Sleep is the ultimate recovery. Don’t skimp on it.
#5 HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
If your body can handle it and you do not sacrifice training or recovery then go ahead and add in one or two HIIT sessions weekly. Ideal HIIT sessions allow for sufficient recovery between high-intensity intervals.
Your muscles need to regenerate energy in the form of ATP in order for them to perform at maximum effort. Anywhere from 40 to 80 seconds is a good range.
Follow the above guidelines to get your metabolism working in your favor. If you are craving more structure and solid programming in your workouts check out this helpful resource