Weight loss isn’t just a question of eating fewer calories and getting more exercise. It’s also about doing what you can to improve the way your body uses the nutrients you feed it. You’ve probably heard about how to maintain a healthy weight by boosting your metabolism, but it’s a little more complicated than it sounds.
The Low-Down On Metabolism
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.”
Your metabolism is always functioning because your body is constantly in need of energy, even when you’re at rest. Every action in your body, including breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells requires plenty of energy.
Metabolism is actually the results of many organs and system coming together.
Important structures include:
- Your liver
- Your adrenals
- Your thyroid
- Your muscles
It goes without saying that if your body is in a state of distress or disease, then your metabolism is likely impaired.
If your body is storing fat despite your best efforts, it may be time clear-up the structures that regulate your metabolism. Here are 5 fat burning tricks to get your body in burn-burning mode, and keep it there!
1. Start With Your Liver
Your liver plays a huge role in how energy is used and stored in your body.
In fact, your liver even regulates blood sugar by activating or deactivating metabolic enzymes, It also plays a role in hormone regulation as well as synthesising molecules essential for homeostasis.
What’s more, the organ stores excess glucose as glycogen to keep your body running in between meals. When its glycogen stores are full, the excess energy is stored as fat. Plus, it has the ability to synthesising glucose out of such things as amino acids and carbohydrates.
The liver is at the center of fat storage and use: when in need of energy, it oxidises triglycerides to produce energy, supplies energy to its own cells and sends the remaining energy through the bloodstream to feed other tissues.
And if that wasn’t enough, your liver filters out toxins, breaks down medicines, and metabolizes alcohol. In all, this vital organ performs more than 600 life-supporting metabolic functions.
However, when your liver is overloaded with heavy metals, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, it can’t perform these functions as well as it should. Subsequently, you may experience weight gain, bloating, skin issues, mood disorders, low energy, poor sleep quality, and the inability to lose weight.
To get your liver back on track, cut out artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and processed fats; eat plenty of fiber; make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and exercise regularly.
2. Fix Your Adrenal Glands
Your adrenals are two small glands that sit above your kidneys. They are best known for secreting adrenaline, a hormone that increases energy and oxygen supply in times of distress. It also produces cortisol (a “stress” hormone that regulates metabolism) as well as aldosterone, which regulates blood pressure .
More specifically, cortisol regulates how the body converts fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to energy. It also plays a role in heart function and blood pressure. Cortisol works in sync with corticosterone to regulate immune response and suppress inflammatory reactions.
Your adrenal glands are sensitive to stress, meaning that anything from mental/emotional stress to food sensitivities, blood sugar imbalances, infections, and excessive exercise can cause them to stop functioning properly. If you think you may suffering from adrenal fatigue, find out what’s stressing out your body and take the time to heal.
3. Consider Your Thyroid
When your metabolism isn’t working properly, chances are that your thyroid gland may have something to do with it. Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism thanks to two thyroid hormones (t3 & t4) and a thyroid-stimulating hormone.
T3 and T4 act on nearly every cell in the body to increase cellular activity. In fact, the hormones affect life-sustaining activities like:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
- Much more!
Too little thyroid hormone causes you to feel cold, tired, unfocused, and depressed. It can also cause heavy periods, weight gain, joint pain, and trouble sleeping. Too much is associated with anxiety, irritability, nervousness, excessive sweating, and trembling. It can also cause hair loss, weight loss, and loss of muscle mass.
Your thyroid can become stressed from nutrients deficiencies, lack of sleep, excessive stress, and lack of exercise, so tackle these points before speaking to your doctor.
4. Increase Your Muscle Mass
When you gain muscle, your resting metabolic rate goes up. This means that when you have more muscle mass, you burn more calories just to survive than you would with the same quantity of fat.
For example, one study found that by gaining 2.8 pounds of fat-free mass, a group of 26 men increased their average daily metabolic rate increased by 263 calories per day.
This large increase in rate may be explained not only by the calorie expenditure of the muscle itself, but also the calories expended during the muscle recovery process. In fact, it’s estimated that the resting metabolic rate of skeletal muscle clocks in at just 6 calories per pound, which is much lower than the roughly 100 calories per pound observed in the study.
In comparison, the heart and kidneys have a resting metabolic rate of around 200 calories per pound, the brain uses about 100 calories per pound, and the liver uses about 90 calories per pound.
However, it’s hard to calculate the exact change in metabolic rate per pound since methods for measuring resting metabolic rate and body composition vary widely in their precision and accuracy.
Muscles use these extra calories not only during exercise but also in the hours and sometimes days after resistance exercise by refilling depleted glucose and fat stores as well as repairing damaged muscle cells.
Additionally, increasing your muscle mass protects against insulin resistance and prediabetes, according to Preethi Srikanthan, MD, of the University of California Los Angeles.
For best results, add 1-3 strength training sessions a week to your usual workout routine. This type of training can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, so don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a personal trainer to ensure you have proper form as you exercise.
5. Reset Your Body
While all the components above are important for weight loss, they can’t work only on their own : you have to get your whole body involved.
That means eating foods that minimize inflammation and that are easy to digest, avoiding toxic substances, and paying attention to your energy levels. Being healthy also means feeling healthy, so pay attention to how your body feels and do what feels right for you.
To start, decrease your caffeine-heavy drinks and cut out energy drinks completely, keep sweets and processed foods to a minimum, diversify your workouts, balance your meals, cut your alcohol intake, and get plenty of sleep.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need some: nutritionists, naturopaths, and fitness coaches are your allies! For lasting results, tackle one problem at a time and slowly but consistently work towards your health goals.