Pump It Up! Boost Your Metabolism

If you’re like many of my patients, you may be struggling with a “slow” metabolism.  It may feel like no matter what you do, you just can’t get the pounds to come off.  If this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not alone!  Here are some suggestions of how to boost your metabolism.

1.  Exercise is the fastest way to boost your metabolism.  There are three major forms of exercise:


CARDIO:  walking, jogging, swimming, cross-country skiing.  Cardio means exercising at about 60% of max intensity for 30 minutes or more.  Cardio burns calories while you’re exercising and the boost to the calorie burn rate lasts for about 24 hours afterwards.


RESISTANCE TRAINING:  This is typical “weightlifting” but also refers to some kinds of calisthenics that use your own bodyweight as resistance.  Crunches, squats, pushups and chin-ups are examples of bodyweight resistance exercises.  These exercises build muscle tissue.  Muscle burns 50 calories daily whether you use it or not.  Building new muscle is a very effective way to boost your metabolism for the long term.

Fitness Using an Exercise Ball

HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING:  There are many popular HIIT programs available.  The essence of HIIT is that you do short bursts (20-30 seconds) of exercise as hard and fast as you possibly can do it, then have a short rest, then repeat.  The number of reps, the number of sets, and the types of exercises vary from program to program.  Some use hand weights as well.  There is evidence that HIIT is more effective at boosting the metabolism, building muscle and promoting weight loss than either traditional weightlifting or cardio exercise.  My favorite HIIT (the one that I use personally) is BurstClub.  Go check it out, there’s a free workout available on the website.

2.  DON’T cut calories too far!  A healthy rate of weight loss is 1 pound of fat per week.  One pound of fat is 4000 calories.  To lose a pound of fat per week you must burn 500 calories EVERY DAY more than you eat.  I can hear you now:  “So if I burn 1000 calories more, I’ll lose 2 pounds per week, right?”  Yes, but most people hit metabolic hibernation at 1200 calories per day or so.  (It’s different for different people.)  If you cut calories TOO far your metabolism will drop to keep you from starving to death.  You’ll know if that happens:  you’ll feel tired, and cold, and weight loss will stop.

Remember your body evolved to survive an ice age, with long periods of scarce food.  You CAN starve it into submission but you won’t be happy and you won’t feel good.  Slow and steady is the name of the game.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’re building good habits for the rest of your life.  Please use this calculator to estimate how many calories you need per day.

3.  Okay, so now you’ve lost a few pounds, and it’s getting harder to lose more.  Or worse, you’re seeing the pounds come BACK!  Yikes!  Sound familiar?  How do you keep your metabolism from dropping?  Check up above again:  Muscle burns calories.  If you lose muscle as you lose weight, you lose the capacity to burn calories as easily.

Studies have shown that the average person who loses weight loses 40% of that weight as MUSCLE.  Do the math:  if you lose 10 pounds, and 4 pounds of that weight is muscle, and muscle burns 50 calories per day at rest, that’s 200 calories per day that your body doesn’t burn anymore.  Your metabolism has gone down!

There are a few ways to keep from losing muscle.  You should do some resistance training to protect the muscles you have and build more.  In addition, the Shaklee 180 weight loss program includes meal-replacement products that are enriched with leucine, an amino acid that protects against losing muscle.  Check here for more information about Shaklee 180.

All my female readers out there of a certain age may have noticed that it’s getting harder to lose weight and keep it off.  After menopause, a woman loses her estrogen supply.  Estrogen and testosterone both help preserve muscle mass, and losing the estrogen makes it easier to lose muscle.  Muscle is metabolism, so women after menopause really NEED to engage in resistance training or HIIT.  Not only will resistance training help keep your metabolism up, but it is good for your bone strength too.

Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the toughest challenges out there.  It truly requires some patience, perseverance and mental toughness.  I’m here to help in any way I can!

Question:  What’s your favorite exercise?  Comment below!



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