The word metabolism basically describes all the chemical processes that happen in the body to keep you alive. For example, keeping your heart beating and vital organs working. In order for the body to be able to perform these functions, it needs energy in the form of calories.
Your basal metabolic rate, also known as your BMR, is the minimum amount of calories your body can function with to carry out all the essential processes in your body mentioned above.
Many people complain of a slow metabolism, basically, this simply means that they have a lower metabolic rate than they would like. As a result, those with slow metabolisms can put on body fat easily and may struggle to lose weight.
Differences In Metabolism In Men And Women
There are a number of factors that impact your metabolism, ranging from age, body size and gender.
Older people tend to have slower metabolisms for a few reasons. When we age, we tend to lose some lean muscle tissue as the year’s pass. This lean tissue loss reduces our metabolism due to the fact that muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories at rest than fat. Gender does make a difference which can be frustrating for ladies.
Why is it that men seem to be able to put away so much more food than women without gaining fat as easily?
This is mainly due to the fact that men, in general, tend to have more lean muscle mass due to much higher levels of testosterone than women, and also more fat-free mass. This is due to men and women having a different hormonal profile.
Women tend to store more body fat than men for reproductive reasons. This is also why men can lower their body fat significantly more than women without impacting on their health as greatly.
When women drop below a certain level of body fat (this figure can vary from person to person) they can have issues such as amenorrhea which is the loss of menstruation. This is due to the fact that the female hormones responsible for this function require a certain level of body fat.
This can have quite serious health implications for the female athlete if too low levels of body fat are reached and maintained for longer than necessary such as brittle bones from the drop in oestrogen levels in the body, which causes a loss of calcium from the bones.
How Can I Improve My Metabolism?
So now that you know what the metabolism actually is, what steps can you take to ensure yours is as high as possible?
Reverse dieting to build your metabolism
Reverse dieting is a fantastic way to increase your metabolism as a competitor or non-competitor. This involves calculating the best macronutrient split to suit you as an individual and gradually increase your calories so that your body will adapt to the amount without gaining excess body fat.
✓ By using a flexible dieting approach, you will be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods and not feel as restricted as you might do with a rigid nutrition plan.
Add lean muscle mass to your physique
This is the most effective way to increase your BMR. As explained above, muscle burns more calories at rest than the same amount of fat, and so to increase your metabolism, increasing muscle mass is a great place to start.
✓ You can do this by incorporating a progressive resistance training program into your routine and ensuring you eat a healthy balanced diet with ample protein to support repair and recovery in the body.
Take Home Message
The higher your metabolic rate the better for you as an athlete as this will make dieting a lot easier in the long term.
If you increase calories gradually you will not gain any excess body fat. Including some resistance training in your exercise routine will aid in gaining some lean muscle mass which will also increase your metabolic rate!