Metabolism is a bit of a mystery to most. Many who are a little overweight or squidgy around the middle may claim that they “suffer” from a low metabolism usually quantifying this when they see skinny or toned physiques being paraded along the streets or beaches of Gibraltar by saying “they clearly have a higher metabolism”. But what is Metabolism really, and are we able to manage and boost it?
At its most basic, Metabolism comes down to sets of hormones and enzymes flowing through the body and working on converting food into energy (Catabolism) and then using that energy to construct cell components like proteins and nucleic acids (Anabolism). The higher your Matabolic Rate, the more efficiently you change food into fuel and then burn it off. Metabolism is all about how quickly we burn the calories we put into our bodies and therefore how easily the body gains or loses weight. Naturally, this process will differ from person to person, and it is age and sex dependent, but you can influence and improve the rate you metabolise.
The main way to boost your Metabolism is to increase your lean muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate, and, even better, the more calories your body will burn at rest, as muscles require more energy to build, repair and maintain. For every pound of muscle in your body you will burn 35 calories a day, compared to 2 calories per day per pound of fat. This is why, when looking to lose weight and tone up, it is essential to incorporate strength and weight training in and amongst your cardio workouts.
Cardiovascular exercise will burn plenty of calories during the session, and the higher the intensity of your aerobic workout the more you will burn. However, weight training and muscle building will continue to burn calories long after your workout has ended, thus effectively boosting your Metabolism.
Food is also essential for boosting and managing Metabolism. Small, regular meals or snacks help to keep your metabolic rate high. Forget about big meals three times a day; start thinking about having snacks of about 250 calories either in between meals, three times a day, or as full meal replacements 6 to 8 times a day. This will keep your Metabolism primed and working overtime!
Logically, what you eat is very important to keeping your metabolic rate high. Protein requires more energy to digest (and is great for muscle repair and growth!) than carbohydrates of a similar amount of calories. In addition, studies seem to suggest that very spicy foods can increase your Metabolism by approximately 20% for 30min after they have been consumed (the theory is that spice raises your internal body temperature, which in turn requires calories to try to regulate, causing your Metabolism to kick in). Increasingly, people are covering their food in Cayenne Pepper to boost their Metabolism. Others have taken to ingesting Cayenne Pepper Capsules prior to exercise to ensure that their metabolism is geared up and ready to burn calories thick and fast during the workout. The scarcity of detailed research though, means that spicy food alone cannot be depended upon to crank up your metabolic rate in the long term.
All things considered, there is never a quick fix for losing weight or toning up. It takes hard work and effort, and whereas Pepper Supplements or even Green Tea Extracts (also very popular at the moment) may have a small impact on your Metabolism, there is no substitute for regular, intensive cardiovascular exercise, combined with muscle building and frequent low-calorie high-protein snacking. So get out there, and hit it hard Gibraltar!