There are many women over 40 who complain that they have a slow metabolism and buy products that claim to "boost your metabolism". But how do you increase your metabolism, and what is metabolism exactly? How do diets affect your metabolism?
The largest part of your metabolism, called basal metabolism, is the amount of fuel your body burns to support your basic bodily functions. These vital functions include your heartbeat, breathing, brain function and numerous other important, but invisible, activities going on inside of you at all times. Even eating, digesting and processing food contribute to your metabolism.
Even when you're sleeping or sitting still, your body is still actively working. It's just like a car; when the engine is running, it's burning fuel-even if it's just sitting in the driveway.
Move More to Increase Your Metabolism
Your activity level is another significant part of your fuel needs. On top of your basal metabolism, your body's workload increases with any type of activity, from brushing your teeth and taking a shower, to walking around your home, school or office.
This extra work increases the number of calories the cells burn, because the "labor" of the cells has increased. For instance, your lung cells must work to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, but they work harder when you're walking at a brisk pace than when you're sitting in a chair.
Increase Muscle Mass to Boost Your Metabolism
Another piece to this metabolic puzzle is your body composition. Your body is composed of water, adipose tissue (better known as fat) and lean tissue, which is everything else (muscle, bone, hair, and other tissues).
Your muscle mass is an important part of your lean tissue. In fact a majority of your body's machinery is composed of muscle, including many of your internal organs. The tiny engines of muscle cells are "metabolically active" because they require energy to perform their work.
Not only do muscle cells require more energy to do their work, but it also takes energy to build and maintain them. Whenever you do a little more than your body is accustomed to, your body will build more muscle to accommodate the new workload. Building this new muscle tissue requires more fuel. It's like a factory; as the number of workers increases, the productivity or output goes up.
Diets Affect on Metabolism
There is another significant part of metabolism-food. To your body, food is the fuel that keeps this process running smoothly. Your cells must have an energy supply in order to perform their required tasks. Without an adequate amount of fuel, your cells cannot function properly, resulting in unfavorable consequences.
Think about your car again. If it runs out of gasoline, it will putter and stop. However, in order to stay alive, your body's cells cannot all just shut off. When your cells are low on fuel from food, your body will turn to its "reserve tanks" to utilize other energy sources. Initially, it will use up carbohydrate that has been stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. When that is gone, it will begin to break down certain tissues to use for its energy supply, specifically, fat and muscle.
Under strict dieting conditions, initially you will lose water and some of the stored fat. Eventually survival mechanisms kick in and your metabolism decreases to conserve energy and some of your muscle mass may be lost. This is simply the way your body adapts to being under-fueled.
On the other hand, to optimally support your metabolism you can choose to take three important steps:
- live an active lifestyle,
- engage in a reasonable exercise program to maintain and build muscle,
- eat an appropriate amount of food to fuel your cells.
- use natural health supplements to manage nutritional deficiencies.
With a greater appreciation for the processes that affect your metabolism, you can take these critical steps to boost and fuel your metabolism so it will work for you.