At lunch again this week and the conversation shifted to metabolism. It started with someone blaming their metabolism for the few (well several really) surplus kilograms they are carrying. “I just have to look at food and I put on weight, it is the way my metabolism works”.[pb_vidembed title="Increase your metabolism" caption="" url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgOLHhkwX_w" type="yt" w="480" h="385"]
You often hear people talk about their metabolism is this context and a lot of weight loss programs talk about ways to burn fat by increasing your metabolism. But what is this thing called metabolism and can you really change it around?
Firstly metabolism is is taking all of the materials you eat, drink and breathe and through a series of chemical reactions breaking them down into component parts we can use. Metabolism is also the series of chemical reactions that takes these component parts and uses them to keep the body going.
Take a simple example of a meal that includes some starchy material. Firstly this gets broken down into smaller pieces, the smallest being glucose molecules. This gets shipped around the body where it can be further broken down to carbon dioxide and water, using the oxygen we breathe in, and releasing the energy of the glucose to do something like move a muscle or think a thought. Surplus glucose can be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles or it can be stored as fat in the fat cells.
Proteins and fats also have specific metabolic pathways that break them down and other pathways that use them to make muscles, cell walls, hormones and other essential materials needed for the body to function properly. Lump all of these chemical processes together and you have the thing called “metabolism”.
So is it possible to speed up your metabolism and perhaps more importantly can it be done naturally? There are plenty of chemicals we can include with our food that will increase our metabolism and caffeine is a common example. Many “metabolic enhancers” have caffeine as one of their main ingredients and most anti-cellulite lotions, potions and creams include caffeine as an ingredient for topical application.
Caffeine is metabolized in the liver to for a number of compounds, the main one being paraxanthine. This in turn acts on the pathway that metabolizes fats resulting in an increase of glycerol and fatty acids in the blood which are then able to be used as a source of fuel by the muscles. Athletes have known of this effect for a long time and many studies have shown that endurance is increased very significantly by taking caffeine before intense physical activity.
Note what is happening here though. The reason for taking the caffeine is to increase fatty acids in the blood (taken out of the fat calls) which are then burned off by intense physical activity. Without the intense physical activity all that happens is that the blood system gets clogged up with fatty acids that simply make their way back to the fat cells with little natural weight loss.
In another post I will cover other lifestyle changes that can be made to raise your metabolic rate around the clock. For a more in depth explanation of the body’s metabolic processes you can turn to Wikipedia. To be kept up to date with posts on this site copy this link to your rss reader.
Filed under: Diet Tips To Lose Weight