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 The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    June 2006    Page 3       > About LCL Magazine     > Cover Page      > Inside Cover    Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10      


Feature Articles
 Strength Training
 Low Carb Ice Cream!
 Metabolism 101
 Let's Do Lunch!
 Low Carb Baking
 Make Your Summer Spicy!
 Your Heart Loves Yoga!
 Best of The Low Carb Blogs
 Benefits of Coconut Oil
 Understand Nutrition Labels



 Low Carb Tortillas

        I Have a Metabolism? by Cerise Cauthron

We hear so much about "metabolism" lately — especially if our concern is health and wellness. But rarely is metabolism itself truly placed as the center focus. Many people realize they have a metabolism (and are not happy one bit with its current behavior), but aren't sure what it actually is and how or why certain actions can prompt it to mend its ways.

Metabolism is the sum of the chemical reactions of the body.

There... I can go home now.

Ok, I'll add a bit more paint to the picture. Your fine form operates through a quadrillion chemical reactions that continue every nanosecond. Every single thing you do, think, feel, etc. is promoted via a chemical reaction. From chemistry class, you remember (they told you there would be a test on this someday) that chemical reactions require one major thing to move forward — energy. Energy is required for every chemical reaction in the universe, even those that release energy as a result. Well, since none of us born with an electrical outlet attached to our behinds, we ourselves, must provide our chemical reactions the necessary energy. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be converted from one form to another. So, the energy required by our chemical reactions has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is food.

Ultimately, that is why we eat — to provide our bodies with a form of energy that it can use to keep our chemical reactions going. However, at any given time, your body only needs so much energy to keep its metabolism humming. At bare minimum, if you are doing squat-diddly for activity (and I mean not even lifting a remote control), you body still has to keep the heart beating, brain functioning, making your pineal gland do whatever the pineal gland does, etc. The amount of energy required to sustain this amount of activity reflects your Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR. This is the sparest amount of energy you need to maintain your functional human status and this varies based on genetics, age and physical condition. But, few of us actually are this lethargic in a day. Most of us engage in various activities and each second of activity calls for more chemical reactions, more work to be done, more energy required. Your metabolism has to provide the energy for these additional daily burdens. The more activity, the more energy required. Therefore, your daily energy needs are your RMR + the energy for your daily activities. If you eat as many calories as your metabolism expends to keep you going — you stay status quo for weight. If you continue to eat the same amount of calories ("calories" is actually a measure of energy!), but increase activity, your body has to get the energy from your reserve bank. Lowcarbers train their bodies to dip into the fat reserves for this additional energy need. More activity, more dippin', more fat use, less weight. However, don't start grinnin' too much yet — the reverse is also true. When we consume more energy than the body needs, it puts it away for later (an evolutionary response to the times when it might be awhile before we found another saber tooth to barbeque). That means more fat and more weight.

In the age where button-pushing was not a major job skill, people were naturally active. Nowadays, we must purposefully increase our level of activity. Yes, I must use the "E" word — exercise. The more intense the exercise — the more energy required; the greater the duration, the more energy required. Think of the body as your house's heating system. You and your sweetie don't mind keeping the thermostat at 55 degrees all year long. Your heating system uses the necessary amount of fuel to sustain this temperature and you are billed accordingly. Now, imagine that aged Aunt Gladys comes to visit. She mandates that the thermostat be reset to 75 degrees as she is always cold — you know how those old people just whine and whine to keep that old biddy satisfied, the heater has to work much harder to keep that temperature up and this extra work demands more fuel. When she finally leaves and you turn down the control, the system does less work and your monthly bill's energy graph shows the spike from her invasion and the decline in energy use after her departure. When you exercise, the body's need for energy increases and your fuel use goes up. If you don't increase your calorie consumption, you body gets the energy from reserves — blessed fat. The more you exercise, the more the fuel demand. Don't go nutty, though. Too much exercise causes the body to say that something is wrong with you and it goes into protective mode. It actually slows the metabolism to help preserve your reserves to weather you through your perceived infirmity. Stress and over exercise are not metabolism's friends.

WooHoo! Exercise gives you a way to use your metabolism to weight loss advantage. You begin scheming — how can I increase the time that my furnace stays hot? Exercise again smiles upon you. One advantage of regular, vigorous exercise is that it can raise your body's normal metabolism. After exercise, your metabolism stays high for awhile; your home furnace doesn't automatically go cold when you turn it to "off." It takes awhile to cool down; your body does the same thing. This after burn is another exercise benefit. Many experts recommend exercising in several bouts — raise the metabolism several times during the day and then enjoy several after burns, as a bonus. Eating small, frequent meals is another metabolism-boosting tactic. It actually takes energy to eat and digest food; each time you eat, the metabolism cranks up to handle the digestion process. More noshing... more metabolic kick-starts. Keep your daily calorie needs in mind, though, and spread them out accordingly. Overdoing the chocolate-covered calories rather defeats the purpose of purposeful picking.

But, let's go for the whole enchilada. Can you up that metabolism ALL DAY? EVERY DAY? Is it possible? YES!!! Exercise is again the key, but we must be more specific. Cardiovascular exercise is a fantastic calorie burner, energy user. And it does give you after burn effects. However, once the after burn is over, you are back at sea level. What you need to do is actually engage in strength training (pumping iron) to enable the body to keep its metabolism running hot. Here's why:

Remember that all activity requires chemical reactions, which need energy. Well, this applies down to the level of the single cell. Some cells are lay-abouts and don't do much. Rather like your teenager, they spend most of their day thumbing through magazines and watching MTV. Fat cells, most connective tissue cells and the like don't require much energy. If your body is mostly composed of these cells, you lead a pretty inactive life, cellularly speaking, and don't have a huge energy demand. However, muscle cells are a different story. Muscle cells are more like your 5-year old and his friends. You need ropes and chains to keep them still. Muscle cells are what are doing your body's activity work from pumping your blood, moving your food, raising your fork to your face, keeping the toes tapping when the radio plays. In order to do this, they need lots of energy and so, naturally use a lot of fuel. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that if you have more of these guys and less of the slackers, your body WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING EXTRA is going to continuously demand more energy. The metabolism gets raised and stays that way as long as you keep the dynamos. The way to add more muscle and reduce the sluggards is to strength train. Weight training builds muscle. You get the calorie burn from the actual workout and, as muscle builds, your metabolism rises. You burn more calories, even at rest, when you have more muscle and less of the other tissue types. This is like Aunt Gladys selling her house and moving into your spare room. That thermostat is going to stay cranked until the day she...

Your metabolism is not your enemy. It keeps you alive. Love it, for that reason alone. But, it is not the one in control — you are. By taking the appropriate actions, you can use your metabolism to your advantage to achieve your weight loss goals. Increase activity through the day — take stairs, walk in the evenings, play with your kids, go dancing: anything! Go further by adding purposeful exercise for greater energy demand. Strength train to build muscle for the big bonanza. Don't be afraid of your metabolism — it is your tool, your weapon, your own personal weight-loss product. And, unlike most things in life, it's free!

Copyright © June 2006  Cerise Cauthron and Low Carb Luxury



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