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A high metabolism is often credited with being the key to a stable, healthy weight, but what is a fast metabolism? Here’s what you need to know about how to increase metabolism efficiency. For in-depth information about metabolism function and performance, buy Metabolism & Medicine here. Discover additional information about the intersection of metabolic performance and modern physics in volume one and volume two of Dr. Brian Fertig’s extensively researched work on the metabolic landscape of health and disease.

In every cell of your body, there is always some activity, and you are always consuming energy. The consumption of food and beverages produces this needed energy. Your metabolism plays a crucial role in your body’s ability to utilize as much of that energy as possible.

Metabolic processes can be divided into two different categories: anabolism and catabolism. During anabolism, energy is stored in the body, new cells are supported, and body tissues are maintained. In contrast, catabolism uses energy to perform the opposite function, such as moving, heating, and energizing your body.

The metabolism is not unlike a piece of machinery that must constantly operate to power different mechanical functions. Using the example of a continually running machine, we can imagine your body’s metabolism as a constant engine always running. Your engine idles when you’re sleeping or sitting still. Engines use a certain amount of energy in the form of fuel to keep running. While the human race does not use gasoline for fuel, it does need to consume a form of fuel for energy. Foods and beverages contain calories, which are energy. Calories can be stored as fat for later use.

Calorie burn depends on how fast your body’s “engine” runs on average over time. If you have a high metabolism, you’ll expend many calories at rest and during your daily activities. People with high metabolisms need calories. In part, that’s why some people don’t gain weight when they eat more. You must eat fewer calories to avoid getting fat if you have a “low” (or slow) metabolism.

Is a High Metabolism Genetic or Environmental?

It has been shown that lean people tend to be more active during everyday activities than those who are overweight. In what way? Even when people are not exercising, they are likely to be in motion when they feel restless. It is still unclear whether this inclination to move constantly is heritable or acquired. The persistent activity can cause the body to burn hundreds of extra calories per day.

Obese individuals burn more calories during most activities because moving takes more effort. In addition, they are more likely to be sedentary, making losing weight harder.

A misconception exists about metabolism and weight loss. The obesity crisis in the United States isn’t solely related to genetics or inherited slow metabolisms. It takes time for genetic changes to occur. Environmental factors, such as a change in diet and lack of exercise, are more likely to cause the problem. A person’s metabolism is also affected by age, although some research suggests metabolism peaks earlier in life and slows down later.

The cause of excess weight isn’t just fate, thyroid issues, or something largely out of one’s control. A person’s weight changes over a lifetime largely due to changes in calories consumed and expended.

We have a physiological mechanism that stores excess energy in fat cells regardless of our metabolism. You gain weight if you consume more calories than your body expends. If you avoid eating and drinking too many calories, you can lose weight by consuming fewer calories than you burn.

However, a lack of food is also interpreted by our bodies as a sign of starvation. As a consequence, our basal metabolic rate (BMR) diminishes, which causes us to burn calories less effectively. This phenomenon is why losing weight can sometimes be difficult.

How to Increase Metabolism Rate

While you probably won’t achieve a consistently high metabolism through a change of diet and routine, you can encourage your metabolism to function more efficiently.

  • Take your workout up a notch. Regularly incorporate high-intensity interval training into your exercise regimen. After an interval training session, your metabolism will remain elevated for approximately 24 hours.
  • Eat sufficient protein. Eating increases your metabolic rate during a phenomenon called the thermic effect. Eating protein generates an enhanced thermic effect, higher than consuming foods with high carbohydrate or fat content because the body requires more energy to break down and use protein.
  • Add weight resistance to your workout. While the metabolic response to protein isn’t yet clear, it has been widely observed that consuming sufficient protein in conjunction with weight training helps to build muscle. Muscle mass increases BMR.

You can jump-start your metabolism by adopting a more active lifestyle along with a protein-forward diet with relatively few carbohydrates. However, if you have concerns about your metabolic health, it is best to consult with a physician who specializes in metabolic medicine.

Medicine & Metabolism author Dr. Brian Fertig is the President and Founder of the Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.

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