Tuesday, February 06, 2007

HYBW #4 - Metabolic Rate

Our metabolic rate (the speed at which the little men in our body utilise our body's energy supplies) is determined by a combination of:

Some people have a naturally faster metabolism. They're the type of people who can eat what they like and never get fat (you know, those unbearably smug people).

Age: As we leave our teens behind, our metabolism drops 2 per cent per decade. Yes, it's yet another reason for not getting older.

Muscle: Muscle cells use up 8 times more energy than fat cells. The more muscle we have, the faster our body will burn energy.

Exercise: Moving our body around burns energy. And depending on the type of exercise, it can raise our metabolic rate even after we stop moving around.

How often we eat: The eating and digestion of food raises our metabolic rate. If you go without food for an extended period of time (5 hours for males, 3 hours for women) those little men get twitchy, and start slowing your metabolism down.

Nutrition: Metabolic processes require a myriad of complex chemical reactions. To perform this process efficiently, our body needs a constant supply of nutrients and catalysts. If there is a shortage, our metabolism becomes inefficient and sluggish.

Speeding up our metabolic rate can be achieved by:

Exercise: ANY exercise is better than no exercise. However, the popular wisdom that aerobic exercise (walking/running/cycling) is the best way to speed it up has been challenged by recent research (more about that in subsequent blogs).

Eating regularly: Eat small, regular meals from the moment you get up until the moment you go to bed.

Eating good food: This helps to maintain a supply of appropriate nutrients which in turn keeps your metabolism working smoothly.

Drink plenty of liquids: I'm going to do a fuller blog on this soon, but keeping your body supplied with (non-alcoholic, low-sugar) liquids will help to keep your metabolism running. And, for those whose bodies are tolerant to it, caffeinated drinks (in moderation) will give it an extra boost!

I'll be expanding on these topics in later blogs.