Metabolism – Fat is the fuel, our liver is the furnace

Published 6:32 pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

These days you can hardly pick up any health book or magazine without reading something about “How to raise your metabolism”. That stuff’s everywhere. Thing is, most of the information is either  misleading, half-truths, or just wrong.
Today, I’m going to share with you what will help boost your metabolism, and what won’t. First, what is metabolism? Metabolism comes from the Greek words “metabole” (change) and “metabolismos” (out throw), and is actually a series of chemical reactions that happen to all living organisms to sustain life, including digestion, and transport of materials to, from, and between cells.
When is comes to fat loss, think of metabolism in this way. Fat is the fuel, our liver is the furnace. Our thyroid is the thermostat, and  our metabolism is the rate of heat. High metabolism, high heat, lots of fat burned. Low metabolism, low heat, not much fat burned.  Some say that as we age our metabolism automatically goes down.
That’s not in and of itself very accurate. While it’s true our bodies do burn 2 to 5 percent fewer calories with each decade after age 40, there are still many things we can do to raise our metabolism at any age. Here are a few.
1) Drink the right amount of water. Remember, all your body’s chemical reactions, including metabolism, depend on water.
Just by being dehydrated alone, you might be burning 2 percent fewer calories. Cool water will help you burn even more calories, because your body has to heat the cool water to your body’s normal temperature. One caution though, you can drink too much water. Water leaches out  electrolytes (minerals)responsible for proper muscle contraction, so ingesting too much could cause muscle cramps. Also, if you were to drink two gallons of water in one sitting it could actually kill you by making your brain swell.
2) Eat more protein. Protein helps boost metabolism, because your body uses more energy to process this nutrient. This is known as thermic effect of food (TEF). Your body burns twice as many calories to digest protein as it does carbohydrates. Your body doesn’t need huge quantities of protein though. Strive to get about 10 to 25 grams with each meal.
3) Hot, spicy foods fire up metabolism. That’s right, “caps aicin”, the chemical that makes peppers hot, can not only turn up your metabolism, but  can actually reduce hunger. In one study, 1 tablespoon of chopped Chile pepper , equal to 30mg of capsaicin, resulted in  a temporary 23 percent boost in metabolism. Just sprinkle rep pepper flake onto your favorite dishes or just do what I do. Eat peppers with your meals, like a pickle.
4) Lift weight. Lifting weights raises your metabolism more than a cardio workout.  Did you know that just a 3 pound muscle gain can increase your caloric burn by 6 to 8 percent? That means you’ll burn 100 calories more a day, not to mention muscle is smaller and shaped better than fat. Start a weight training program, but check with your doctor first, then get instruction from a weight training professional.
5) Exercising at a higher concentration. Those who exercise at higher intensities experience a post exercise boost in their metabolic rate that’s larger and lasts longer than those who workout at  low to moderate rates. Here again, check with your doctor first, and you really should consult a professional trainer for help with this one.
6) Drinking tea helps boost metabolism. Tea contains compounds called “catechins” which can boost metabolism by 4 percent for 1 ½ hours. Try a cup of green or Oolong tea in place of your morning coffee, and add a big squeeze of lemon. It’ll help for better catechin absorption. Diet or exercise question? Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 27 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, the S.C. state champion girl’s gymnastic team, and the Converse college equestrian team.
He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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