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Understanding Metabolism and Making Yours Work Hard for You!

Here at Awaken180°, we love talking about metabolism and how to improve yours in order to achieve your weight loss goals more quickly. But what is metabolism, really?

Basically, your metabolism refers to the chemical reactions occurring within your cells that supply your body with the energy it needs to function every day. The energy that’s made from these metabolic reactions is made available for all the body’s important processes and for the creation of new organic material, like muscle tissue and hair!

There are many factors that affect your metabolism – or more specifically, your metabolic rate – which varies from person to person. Both age and sex, as well as current health, physical fitness, health conditions, and even environmental factors help determine your base metabolic rate.

Evolved for Peak Performance and Survival – Our Lives Today

Our bodies evolved to function thousands of years ago. While we’re certainly not done evolving, a lot of the environmental pressures that usually drive evolution no longer play a large role in our day-to-day lives. Our bodies evolved to survive in unpredictable environments, spending lots of time outdoors, moving frequently, and consuming food that’s very different from the food we have available to us now.

When we compare our lives today to how we lived long ago, we most often live fairly sedentary lifestyles, generally have a steady and secure source of food and energy, and consume foods that are much higher in carbohydrates, fats, and highly processed ingredients.

Just these factors alone can make it easy to gain weight! Our bodies were so intricately designed for survival – to hold onto extra energy for use during times of continued exertion and periods of starvation, and to be able to keep up with the constant threats in our environments. Today, we are typically faced with far fewer environmental stressors, less physical demand, and few to no periods of starvation, so these fat stores remain in our bodies, unused. In turn, these fat stores slow our metabolic rate, allowing for even more fat growth. This cycle can cause weight to spiral out of control and can be hard to break. Sometimes all we need is a little guidance and a helping hand.

Aspects of Daily Life to Keep in Mind

There are so many factors, beyond a higher body fat percentage, that can affect metabolism:

  • Illness/injury
  • Stress
  • Poor sleep quality/too little sleep
  • Starvation
  • Water and salt/electrolyte consumption
  • Over-exercising
  • Physical activity
  • Medication
  • Diet
  • Weather/temperature
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sunlight/fresh air/vitamin D

How to Hack It

When metabolism slows, naturally we burn body fat and dietary fuel at a slower pace. Of course, this means our weight loss will take a little longer. Sometimes there are things out of our control – personal/work stressors, illness, crazy weather, poor sleep, hormone fluctuations… and that’s fully okay! Every day doesn’t have to be perfect… but there are also some things that we can do to improve our metabolism, and therefore boost our fat burn.

  • Do about 30 minutes of light cardio/weights or go on an up to 1 hour walk. Keep it light, you don’t want to overexert yourself and surpass what your body can accommodate.
  • Take time to do things for yourself. Taking care of your body, but also your mind, is crucial. De-stressing, and spending time outside in sunlight (especially early morning), soaking up vitamin D, can all boost mood, as well as metabolism. Pair spending time outdoors, in the early morning light, with your exercise for a whole lot of happy-inducing, metabolism-boosting, healthy goodness!
  • Switch it up! Varying what you’re eating each day can keep your body in a good routine, but not getting so much repetition that it slows metabolism.
  • Capsaicin. Adding some capsaicin to your diet can help increase your metabolism by raising your internal body temperature, as well as the rate of fat cell signaling. Capsaicin is a natural compound, found in spicy foods. Studies have shown it may also prove therapeutic in pain management and other diseases!
  • Decrease your caffeine intake, as well as your carbonated drink intake. Too much caffeine induces a stress-like response.
  • Attitude! A positive attitude can make or break your progress on any diet. Feeling good and having a positive outlook on the road ahead, as well as your day-to-day, can boost your progress and help your overall success!

There are so many ways your daily routine and your environment can affect your metabolism, and as a result, your weight loss success. Some factors are within your control, and others… not so much. Accepting what you can’t control is a crucial first step. Next, look at the things you can control and decide what’s most important to you. Are there any little changes you can make to your day-to-day that may help boost your progress?

Start small, explore your options, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Go on that jog. Spend time in your garden. Dust off that romance novel, sitting on your shelf. Throw yourself into a DIY project. Go try that spicy food. Do something fun!

And if you’d still like to understand the science behind our metabolism and what it can do for your health, give our coaches a call. We’re more than happy to chat things through!