By Dave Smith
"I've never gotten fat so easily before."
That's what my yoga teacher told me last week. In her mid-forties, she, like so many of us, could clearly see that her body isn't the same as it was 5 or 10 years ago.
We laughed as we talked about the "good old days" when we could eat anything we wanted without repercussion. We didn't have to monitor our food choices because we knew we could always just "burn it off."
We were both keenly aware what happens when we overeat now...
For me, extra calories like to hang out around my tummy while the rest of my body stays pretty lean. I don't naturally "burn off" calories like I used to.
As your metabolism slows down, you can't eat like you used to... without paying a price!
"This is where the cookies go!" my teacher said, pointing at her hips. "And here," she adds, pulling at the back of her arms.
Where does YOUR body store fat first?
Maybe you haven't noticed any changes to your body yet, but trust me, it will happen. Sorry, I'm going to be the bearer of bad news by showing you just how quickly your metabolism is slowing down, BUT then we can talk about what you can do about it.
(Yes, there is good news!)
How Fast is Your Metabolism Slowing Down?
Your metabolism is simply how much energy your body is using up. Your body needs energy to move, to think, to breathe, to digest, to be alive. Every process that's happening within your body contributes to your metabolism.
If you hear someone say, "I have a really slow metabolism," they likely mean that their body naturally uses less energy to stay alive than other people's bodies do.
Historically, having a slow metabolism would have been a blessing because it would mean you need fewer calories to survive, therefore you don't have to work as hard to find enough food!
Today, things are different. Most of us have more than enough food at our fingertips, so having a slow metabolism can quickly lead to weight-gain, while a fast metabolism seems like a blessing: "Bring on dessert. I never gain weight!"
However, regardless of how fast or slow your metabolism may be at this moment, it is slowing down.
For most of us, metabolism peaks in our early- or mid-twenties. From that point on, it will naturally begin to decline about 2-4% per year until it bottoms out in our 70s or 80s.
Here's what this process looks like for women:
This graph shows overall metabolism, which includes the number of calories your body burns at rest (i.e. Resting Metabolic Rate), plus daily movements like walking around your house, shopping, etc.
SIDE NOTE: Most food packaging uses nutritional panels that are based on a 2,000 calories per day diet. Looking at the graph above, do you think most women should be basing their portions on 2,000 calories per day?
And here's how metabolism slows down for men as they age:
Of course these graphs show what happens to most people's metabolism. You might be different. Maybe you have a superhuman metabolism! But, all of us will experience metabolism slow-down as we age. That's fact. So, let's do something about it...
How Can You Boost Your Metabolism Naturally?
Okay, I'm done being a party-pooper. Time for that good news I promised...
Actually, you have already seen some of the good news. Take another look at the graphs above and you'll notice three lines on each graph: Sedentary, Moderate, and Active.
Look at the huge gap between the pink and green lines. YOU have tremendous control over your metabolism based on your activity level. The more you move, the more you are able to naturally boost your metabolism no matter how old you are.
Great! But there are two obvious questions:
- How much do I need to move?
- What type of movement will give me the biggest metabolism boost?
Let me walk you through 3 steps that will clearly answer both of those important questions about how to give your body the best metabolism boost possible:
Step 1: Know Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) tells you how many calories your body burns from all of the internal processes we talked about earlier like powering your brain, your heart, your digestion, etc.
Your RMR is helpful to know because this is roughly the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight. Eat more than this (without moving your body) and you're likely going to start gaining weight.
Want to calculate your RMR?
It's easy with my Metabolic Boost Calculator. Watch how it works...
Click here to scroll down to the Metabolic Boost Calculator that's embedded on this page. Begin by choosing your answers from the 4 drop-down boxes as indicated by the red arrows in the picture below. Instantly, your RMR will be calculated.
- If you need help converting feet to cm, click here.
- And if you need help converting pounds to kg, click here.
Step 2: Quick-Boost Your Metabolism with Cardio
Now that you know your RMR, it's time to see how much you can boost your metabolism by adding a bit of cardiovascular exercise. This could be walking, jogging, biking, Zumba, swimming, dancing, or any activity you enjoy that gets your heart rate up.
Go back to the calculator and answer the first 3 questions under the "Boost Your Metabolism" heading (shown below).
Notice what happens to your metabolism when you add in a little bit of cardio exercise? It goes up! Cardiovascular exercise is a great option for quickly boosting your metabolism. But what about strength training? Let's take a look...
Step 3: Boost Your Metabolism Long-Term with Strength Training
Strength training provides a different metabolic benefit than cardio exercise. When you go back to the calculator and enter your answers for the strength training questions, notice that your "new Metabolic Rate" doesn't increase as much as it did when you added cardio activity.
While strength training doesn't burn a ton of calories in the moment, it offers a significant long-term metabolic boost. Take a look at what will happen to your metabolism over the next 3, 6, and 12 months. Your metabolism keeps going up!
Those metabolic increases are created when you use strength training to build muscle. You are changing your body composition (i.e. the ratio of fat to lean mass on your body) and the result is a much faster metabolism.
Cardio training, on the other hand, does not produce long-term changes like this because it is not building muscle like strength training does.
What Do These Metabolism Boosts Actually Achieve?
You have now seen how impactful exercise can be on your metabolism, but so what? What is this actually going to do for you?
Even if your metabolism increases by "just" 150 calories per day, the impact over time is huge. That's what the final section in the Metabolic Boost Calculator shows you...
This final box tells you how many days it will take your new metabolism to burn 1 pound of fat (i.e. 3,500 calories). In the example above, your body would be burning an extra 3,500 calories every 13 days compared to what you would be burning without exercise. That is tremendous!
Try the Metabolism Boost Calculator for Yourself!
Boosting your metabolism naturally isn't as hard as you might think. Use the calculator below to see how much you can boost your metabolism with a little bit of cardio exercise and strength training:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Your metabolism may be even higher than this depending on the amount of Non-Exercise Activity Time (NEAT) you do. NEAT includes any movement that's built into your day aside from specific "exercise" time.
For example, if you work a job that has you on your feet all day, your NEAT will be high and your metabolism will be boosted yet again. Yay!
What's Next for You?
You now know the very best way to naturally boost your metabolism. Using the calculator, you can find the perfect balance of metabolism-boosting cardio and strength training that will fit into your schedule.
It doesn't take much. It does take getting started and sticking with it. So, what's your exercise plan going to look like?