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How to Super-Charge Your Metabolism for Optimal Weight Loss
An important fact about nutrition and metabolism is that your body has a “starvation mode” or “famine mode”. When your body doesn’t get the calories (which is simply translated into energy) it needs to function properly, it goes into starvation mode. The reason the human body has a starvation mode is because it evolved during a time when food was scarce, which led to the development of the starvation mode as a defense mechanism during famine.
When your metabolism is running at its full potential, it draws energy from stored fat and incoming calories. But when your metabolism is in starvation mode, it saves stored fat and incoming calories and starts converting muscle tissue into energy instead. Muscles are very “high maintenance”; they require a large amount of calories to function. Because of this, when your body is in starvation mode and trying to conserve your body’s calorie consumption, your body begins to draw energy from your muscles through the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Why is this important? Most weight loss plans require a very restrictive diet with a calorie deficit that can send your body into starvation mode. When you participate in such a meal plan, not only will you feel hungry, but you will also not lose weight; what you lose is muscle.
How can you avoid putting your body into starvation mode? By calculating the basal metabolism. Your Basal Metabolic Rate, otherwise known as your BMR, is just another fancy way of describing the rate at which your body burns calories at rest.
Calculating your body’s basal metabolic rate
You can calculate your BMR in one of two ways: the easy way (online calculator) or the hard way (long hand). I will provide information for both!
For the easy way, visit Fitwatch.com. Follow the instructions and enter all the required information.
To find your BMR in longhand, follow this formula:
English BMR formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )
BMR metric formula
Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kilograms) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kilograms) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
Then you have to calculate the amount of calories you burn during physical activity:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sport 3-5 days/week): Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sport and physical work or 2x training): Calorie calculation = BMR x 1.9
The resulting number is your personal basal metabolic rate.
A calorie deficit to help you lose weight
To determine a safe calorie deficit that won’t destroy your metabolism, you need to lower your BMR by 500-1000. Never reduce your daily caloric needs above 1000 calories; if you do, you send your body into starvation mode.
Reducing your daily caloric needs by 500 calories will result in a weight loss of 1 pound per week. If you cut 1,000 calories, you’ll lose two pounds a week. If you have had trouble cutting your daily calories by 1000 in the past; start at 500. One pound a week of weight loss is much better than no weight loss; or worse, gaining weight.
Signs of a slow metabolism
An early indicator of a slow or slowing metabolism is a sudden drop in temperature; especially if you are a passionate person. If you find yourself getting chills in an environment that doesn’t usually trigger chills, your metabolism is most likely slow or sluggish.
Other symptoms of a slow metabolism are easy weight gain and difficulty losing weight. When your body is running in starvation mode, it is not burning any of your stored fat, nor is it burning incoming calories.
Other signs of a slow metabolism include: fatigue, migraines and headaches, irritability, poor memory and concentration, fluid retention, low sex drive, dry skin and hair, unhealthy nails and acne.
How to improve your metabolism
Eat more often and stop skipping meals, especially breakfast. The real reason your metabolism is in its current state is because it is not getting the proper nutrition. Breakfast is a basic meal because it is the first thing after a long period of sleep. The longer you delay your first meal, the faster your body will go back into starvation mode. Also, make sure you space your other meals and snacks 2-4 hours apart. This will give your body enough fuel to keep your metabolism going.
Start exercising regularly. Exercise helps burn fat and build muscle. Remember that muscle tissue uses a lot more calories than fat tissue. Cardiovascular exercise gives you the benefit of burning calories for 4-8 hours after you finish exercising! Strength training helps your metabolism by building muscle while burning fat. For a supercharged metabolism, do a combination of cardio and strength training. Your body will become a fat burning machine even when it is at rest!
Whatever state your current metabolism is in; you can change it for the better. It just takes a few “tweaks”!
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