- 1 What does metabolism mean?
- 2 How to increase metabolism
- 3 To sum up
- 4 Lose weight with fasting
Last Updated on January 29, 2024
Metabolism is a word that often circulates in diet and fitness circles. You hear people say, “I put on weight because I have a slow metabolism”, or “The younger you are, the quicker your metabolism”.
But are these statements true? Does metabolism really affect weight?
Here’s our guide to metabolism – what metabolism is, how metabolism works, and how you can boost metabolism with the help of intermittent fasting.
What does metabolism mean?
To understand how metabolism works to boost weight loss, it’s best to think of it as how your body creates the energy and fuel it needs to function.
All your body’s processes use energy, be it breathing, movement, digesting food, development, or circulating blood.
Your metabolism is the series of reactions that take place within your system to keep your body functioning. However, the minimum energy needed differs from person to person based on gender, age, lifestyle, exercise, etc.
This essential energy requirement is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
When people say they have a “slow metabolism”, they usually mean they have a low BMR, as it is this that dictates your body’s essential energy requirement.
BMR affects weight because you get the energy you need by consuming food and calories. Therefore, your BMR refers to the minimum calorie requirement necessary to keep you in check.
Most people consume more calories than the bare minimum; however, excessive calories can lead to weight gain.
According to the National Library of Medicine, the definition of metabolism is “the whole sum of reactions that occur throughout the body within each cell which provides the body with energy”.
In simple terms, metabolism refers to how your body creates and converts the energy from the calories you consume.
How does metabolism work?
Most people have heard of metabolism, but very few understand how metabolism works.
A simple way of describing metabolism is to think of it as an essential process the body goes through to make the energy or fuel it needs for you to live, for example, to move, breathe, walk, digest food, exercise, reproduce, or be active.
A low metabolism uses the energy (calories) you consume slowly, whereas a high metabolism processes calories faster, therefore helping you maintain or lose weight.
By adopting a structured diet or nutrition plan that is focused on fewer carbs and more protein, a.k.a. a low-carb diet, you should metabolize energy and digest food rapidly, therefore prompting the burning of fat as energy quickly.
If you consume more fats and carbohydrates, it takes longer to process or metabolize, so your weight loss may be slow, as they burn fat at a slower rate.
Metabolism and weight loss
Now, let’s bust a metabolism myth: no quick fix or miracle pill can increase your metabolism. It is, however, possible to boost your metabolism and lose weight by following the right nutrition plan and incorporating more exercise into your daily routine.
As we have seen, those who claim a sluggish metabolism prevents them from losing weight are referring to a low BMR. It is, therefore, easy to assume that following a crash diet or severely restricting calories helps you lose weight.
Yes, some crash diets do indeed lead to short-term weight loss, but these types of diets are often counterproductive, as they put your body under stress and cause it to start breaking down muscle to use as fuel. This, in turn, causes your metabolism to slow, so once you start eating again, you tend to pile the pounds back on quickly.
One of the only clinically backed ways to boost metabolism and achieve weight loss consistently is by intermittent fasting (IF), as the way common 14/10, 16/8, and 18/6 intermittent fasting plans are structured means you consistently meet your BMR calorific needs without burning muscle mass and reach the fat-burning stage that leads to healthy weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is also a diet that only restricts the times you eat rather than what you eat, so it’s far less calorie-restrictive and easier to follow long-term, especially with the help of Fasting Kompanion. The best intermittent fasting app you can find offers you a personalized fasting plan according to your needs and goals.
Metabolism, Anabolism and Catabolism
The subject of metabolism can be confusing, but essentially, it falls into two main categories: catabolism and anabolism.
To distinguish between the two, think of catabolism as the way your body breaks down matter to form the energy it needs and anabolism as the energy produced and used to form the cells your body needs to function.
Both of these are vital for the fat-burning and weight-loss process, as outlined in our article on the fasting fat-burning stages.
Is metabolism genetic?
Genetics play a major part in how fast or slow your metabolism is. However, age, health, lifestyle, diet, and muscle mass also affect BMR and metabolism.
Does metabolism slow down with age?
Yes, studies show that your metabolism does slow with age, meaning the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight without taking preventative action.
The main reason for this is that as you get older, you become less active, resulting in muscle loss and the deterioration of your body’s health and composition, which affects your metabolism.
What is 2 2 2 method of metabolism?
Dr Ian Smith’s 2-2-2 method of metabolism went viral recently as it claims to offer an innovative and effective way to speed up metabolism and lose weight.
This carefully structured six-week program is designed to boost metabolism by focusing on two weeks of eating carbs and protein, then alternating between sending your body into ketosis and then carb-loading for the remaining four weeks.
During the 2 2 2 method, intermittent fasting is used to achieve optimal results.
How to increase metabolism
We’ve established that the higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn resting. We also know that age, sex, genetics, diet, and physical activity all affect metabolism.
So, let’s now question what can be done to increase metabolism and if there are any proven ways to boost your BMR to support consistent weight loss and well-being.
Some of the best ways to increase metabolism include:
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You need to get a good night’s sleep”.
Sleep is vital for your body to recharge and function correctly, helping you maintain an effective metabolism. Many studies have linked a lack of sleep with weight gain and obesity, so ensure you get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Do intermittent fasting
It pushes the body first to enter the anabolism growth phase, where food is digested correctly to prepare the system for growth and repair. This then leads to the catabolic (catabolism) stage, which turns energy into fuel to keep blood sugars in check.
Finally, the fat burning and ketosis begins, where the body undergoes a metabolic shift that prompts it to start converting fat stores and fatty tissue into energy, ultimately leading to fat burning and weight loss.
The more you exercise, the more energy you use, so the greater the number of calories you burn. This means that physical activity plays a major role in metabolism.
Being active makes a world of difference to your health and weight loss efforts, and thankfully, there are lots of ways you can get moving.
From going to the gym and burning calories quickly with a spin, cardio or aerobics class to taking the dog for a walk, using the stairs rather than the elevator, joining a swimming class, or doing an online yoga or Pilates class in the comfort of your living room, it’s easy to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine.
You can also get a customized workout plan that you can do with your body weight, by downloading Fitness Kompanion.
When it comes to boosting metabolism, what you eat is also essential.
It takes energy to digest food, so during the hours following a meal, your metabolism works hard to digest the food. This process is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).
Some foods require more energy and take longer to digest, so keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Following a balanced diet is vital, and consuming the right things is essential to losing weight.
Let’s now discover which foods are better for weight loss and can boost your metabolism.
Metabolism effects of protein, carbs and fat
Protein has proven to cause the most significant change in TEF, between 20 and 30 percent. This means it’s better to eat lean meat, eggs, and healthy proteins than carbohydrates, which have a TEF of between 5 and 10 percent. Fat has a TEF of less than 3 percent, making it a food group that is far harder to digest, which is why doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists suggest eating a balanced diet and including more protein and less carbs and fat in your diet if you want to lose weight.
So, what foods can boost metabolism? We discuss this topic in detail in our article.
We discovered that the nutrient content in some foods can increase your metabolic rate, making it easier to burn more fat if consumed regularly. These fat-burning foods include:
- Eggs, due to their protein and the egg white’s iodine content, which helps control your appetite and speed up your metabolism.
- Chili peppers, as they contain capsaicin, a compound known to help burn more calories.
- Beans and legumes, as these tasty plant-based proteins take time to digest, so they are great for boosting metabolism.
- Ginger increases body temperature and relieves inflammation, aiding fat burning and digestion.
- Avocado, often described as a superfood, ups your metabolism, improves your immune system, and keeps you feeling full for longer.
- Apple cider vinegar, ideally drunk in the morning in small amounts diluted in water, is an excellent fat burner that can accelerate your metabolism.
- Cinnamon, one of the world’s favourite spices, helps raise your body temperature, helping you burn calories quickly.
To sum up
The upshot is that although it’s easy to buy into the hype and purchase the so-called latest metabolism-boosting supplements or energy drinks you read about online, very few of these have been studied and offer an effective way to increase fat-burning.
This is why it’s far better to learn and understand your body and metabolism and incorporate the tips and foods mentioned above into your diet or your intermittent fasting eating plan to achieve the best healthy and weight loss results.