Metabolism and its relationship to body fat, weight loss

Published 9:37 pm Thursday, September 3, 2015

By David Crocker


In their quest for information on losing weight, many folks run across countless results on how to fire up, increase, jump-start, engage and speed up their metabolism. First of all, just what is metabolism, and why is it so important to us?

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Simply put, metabolism is the amount of energy, or calories the body burns to maintain itself. In other words, your body has to constantly burn calories to keep you going through any, and all activities. In terms of losing body fat though, think of it this way. Fat is the fuel, your liver is the furnace. Your metabolism is the rate of heat. High metabolism, high heat, lots of fat burned. Low metabolism, low heat, not much fat burned.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts when trying to raise your metabolism:

Eat a little more protein to rev up your metabolism. Protein elevates metabolism more than fats or carbohydrates, because your body uses more energy to digest and utilize it. This process is known as the “thermic effect of food” (TEF). In fact you can burn up to twice as many calories digesting protein as carbohydrates. Be careful though. Your body can only absorb small amounts of protein at a time, so what can’t be absorbed has to be filtered out by your kidneys, and too much protein can damage them. I recommend consuming no more than 25-30 grams of protein at one time.

Try spicy foods to fire up your metabolism. Red or green chile peppers, whether eaten or taken in capsule form can not only reduce hunger, but can also temporarily boost your metabolic rate by up to 23 percent.

Drinking water helps you burn more calories. Drinking cool water burns even more calories, because your body has to heat the water you drink to your body’s own temperature.

Also, remember that all your body’s chemical processes, including fat loss, use water, because it all goes via the bloodstream. Also, muscles are 70-75 percent water, so if your try to work out when you’re dehydrated, it’s like running on flat tires. One thing to remember though, it is possible to drink too much water in one sitting. If you were to drink two gallons of water at one time, it could actually kill you by making your brain swell. Take care too, that you cool down, when you’re really hot, before chugging lots of cold water to prevent your body from going into shock.

Drink tea to burn more calories. Compounds called catechins found in green tea boost your metabolism. One study showed that green tea raised metabolism by four percent for at least one hour.

Lifting weights raises metabolism more that cardio. I actually have my clients do both, but building muscle is necessary when trying to lose body fat. Muscle is active tissue, and requires constant attention and maintenance by the body. In other words for every ounce of muscle you gain, your body has to burn extra calories 24 hours a day to keep it healthy. In fact by adding just three pounds of muscle, you increase your calorie burn by six to eight percent, which means your body burns an extra 100 calories every day.

Diet or exercise question? E-mail me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 28 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls 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.