Firstly, what on earth is your metabolism?
“Metabolism describes all the chemical processes that go on continuously inside your body to keep you alive and your organs functioning normally, such as breathing, repairing cells and digesting food”
Every chemical reaction requires energy for it to occur. That energy comes from the calories you eat.
You may have seen my instagram posts on this, but your metabolism is made up of four things – and totals up to your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (or TDEE for short!)
- BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR) — this is around 70% of your daily caloric burn (or 70% of what your metabolism does each day). A rather large portion. It differs based on things like your gender, height, weight, muscle mass and age
- NON-EXERCISE ACTIVITY THERMOGENESIS (NEAT)— this is 15% of your Metabolism and the next biggest portion of your Metabolism and relates to all movement you do away from prescribed “fitness” or “training”. Think Daily Walks, Gardening, Fidgeting and Climbing the Stairs.
- EXERCISE (EAT) — Just 5% of your Metabolism is what you burn in the Gym when you workout. Sorry, let me rephrase that…this is what you actually burn in the Gym when you workout. Its not what the Cardio Machine or your watch has told you you have burnt. Activity Trackers can be up to 60% inaccurate when it comes to tracking Aerobic Activity!!
- THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD (TEF) — This is around 10% of your Metabolism and is responsible for how much energy it takes for your body to digest your food.
How does your metabolism work?
In short, bigger people tend to have a higher BMR than smaller petite people. This is because they generally just require more energy to maintain normal bodily functions.
For example, when I was 7.5 stone overweight, I probably had a much higher BMR than I do now!
Muscle is a key contributor to your BMR because the more muscle you have you increase your BMR due to the fact that muscle requires more calories at rest compared to body fat (although minimal, all these little things add up).
This is why with clients, I explain to them that they can lose weight without Strength Training as a Caloric Deficit is all that is needed to lose weight and that can be achieved outside of the Gym. However, by lifting weights and getting stronger they are improving their Metabolism and giving themselves an insurance policy against weight gain in the future. It’s been proven in studies that more active individuals are more likely to maintain their weight loss.
And what’s this non-exercise thingy ma-bob?
If you want to lose weight you underestimate NEAT at your peril. This is your 10,000 steps a day. Your fidgeting. Gardening. The cleaning of your house. This is all of the movement you do outside of the Gym, and you do a lot more movement outside of the Gym than inside it over a week.
Your NEAT is the highest proportion of your Metabolism that you have complete control over. This is the one thing you are solely responsible for…and if you increase it…then you are going to burn a lot more calories each day getting you closer or above your required deficit.
This is why I target my clients with things like steps or aerobic activity. It can make such a huge difference!
So, does the gym help with weight loss – or not?
Well, to be REAL – NOT as much as you might think:
Some positives includes
-You’re burning calories (increasing TDEE)
-You’re building muscle (improving metabolism)
-You’re building the mindset of someone who works hard towards their goals (more likely to achieve long term success)
But your exercise activity actually makes up a very small amount of your daily calories burnt, and it DOESN’T help if you simply eat back the calories you’ve burnt from exercise (so make sure you’re not making this mistake on your tracking app!!!)
What about HIIT Nicki?
High-Intensity Interval Training has been found to burn more calories in the Gym over the period of time you are working compared to Cardio Exercise, BUT…
- HIIT generally leads to an added Calorie Intake after exercise and therefore is not ideal for Weight Loss as you feel like the harder you have worked and been good then the more you have ‘earnt’ some “bad” foods and it stimulates your appetite more as it’s such an intense workout!
- HIIT often comes with the term “EPOC” associated with it. This is known as ‘Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption’ and is overly attributed for the “calorie after-burn effect” you get from a HIIT Workout. Studies show that the biggest factor in EPOC is the intensity of the workout whether that be from HIIT or Traditional Strength — the differences are very minimal. Both are a better option for this than running or cycling.
- The more intense your exercise session the more it will impact on other parts of your Metabolism. Namely NEAT. For example, if you knacker yourself out in an exercise session, you may subconsciously move a lot less throughout the rest of the day!
What about met-cons and other ‘metabolism boosting workouts?’
In a word.
Its a Marketing Campaign from the trained or gym you are in that is based on conscience at all.
It’s clever too.
It makes you think that there is something wrong with your Metabolism and that this workout will help fix that. It makes you think that the person selling you this Metabolic Conditioning workout is actually going to fix you.
And they aren’t. It’s basically a clever way of saying “Lift weights to improve your BMR by adding muscle to your body”
So what actually influences my metabolism?
- Your Body Composition: Muscle burns more calories at rest than Body Fat, which is why when someone is after Fat Loss I will put them onto a strength-based training system in order to improve their muscle density and impact their resting metabolic rate (this does not happen overnight though).
- Your Organ Size: A taller human has bigger Organs and will, therefore, burn more calories at rest.
- Your Movement: The more you move the more calories you burn.
- Your Food: The more nutrient-dense and protein rich your food the more calories you burn digesting it.
- Your Prescribed Exercise: Not as much as you think but does burn some calories.
So is my metabolism broken?
Unless you have a medically diagnosed Metabolic Condition then PROBABLY not.
Even if you do have a Metabolic Condition usually relating to Hormonal Imbalances in your body (PCOS, Thyroid Issues, Pituarty Issues), your Metabolism isn’t likely to be as broken as you think it is.
It is more than likely to be a lack of a Caloric Deficit and other behavioural issues that are leading to your weight gain.
The truth is that it feels slow because you are not concentrating on what you need to concentrate on to affect your Metabolism more positively.
-You are not adding muscle to your body
-You are not eating Protein-rich Nutrient-dense foods
-You are not moving enough outside of the gym
-Your exercise option in the Gym isn’t congruent with your goal of “improving your metabolism”
I know that can be hard to read…but genuinely it’s important.
Taking responsibility for yourself in relation to your Metabolism, if you want to lose body fat is very important.
Many people will tell you its broken. But that not physically possible. But Metabolism is an easy scapegoat for failings elsewhere in what you are doing to achieve fat loss.
There is nothing in relation to your Metabolism that means you will not be able to achieve a Caloric Deficit, and therefore that means that your Metabolism is not the reason you are not losing weight.
Now, you could have got this far into my blog post and felt one of two ways:
- Utterly Defeated by the fact there is basically 70% of your Metabolism that is really hard to effect and change.
- Amazed by the fact that there is around 30% of your Metabolism that is totally under your control and that you can change in order to reach your goals.
30% is huge!
If you could influence anything by 30% I reckon you would see that as a positive thing!
What if your bank gave you 30% more interest?
What if you earn 30% more each month?
What if you had 30% more holiday allowance each year?
You would consider that as pretty life changing. I know I would.
I’m still not sure Nicki – I think I must be broken!!!
Ok girl, I feel ya – you’re not seeing results I presume, despite working ‘really hard’?
HERE IS EXACTLY WHAT I DO WITH CLIENTS:
I first test this by putting clients into a supposed energy deficit for a period of 3-4 weeks.
Client’s MUST be consistent with their calorie intake for this period in order for me as their the coach to know that despite being consistently under the calorie goal, they are not showing any signs of fat loss (this could be scale reductions, body fat % reduction, cm lost around the waist or noticing a change in pictures).
If client’s are simply not adhering to the calorie target I have set – that is a different issue, It’s not your metabolism that’s the problem – it’s your adherence to the plan.
If you do not have a Metabolic Condition usually relating to Hormonal Imbalances in your body (PCOS, Thyroid Issues, Pituarty Issues) then your Metabolism isn’t likely to be as broken as you think it is. This is where you have to ask yourself if you’re truly ready to diet and drop body fat, as sometimes – it does require some sacrifice.
If client’s ARE consistent on their calories, AND not noticing any change, and can confidently say they have been 100% sticking to the plan. I have two options, either reduce calories further and increase calorie expenditure – but sometimes, if the client is already on super low calories and I don’t feel right dropping it any lower, or we can’t physically get anymore activity into their lifestyle, I need to reverse diet them.
THIS TAKES PATIENCE 👏
12-16 weeks of CONSISTENCY – and could take even longer depending on client’s maintenance calories and dieting history.
Then once a client hits maintenance cals, they will need to be in your maintenance phase for 3 months before entering into that OFFICIAL CUTTING PHASE!
But, trusting the process is worth it when:
✅ you discover food freedom eating 2,000+ cals daily
✅ you have more energy day to day
✅ your period is regular
✅ you feel happier in your skin every day
✅ more confident in your clothes
✅ you have a hella good sex drive and feel energised at the gym and at work
✅ your clothes fit the way you want them to
It’s definitely something to think about if you’ve tried all the above, you’ve been chronically dieting (ON LOW CALORIES) for a very long time and progress has stagnated.
If you need help with all this and more, and want to work with me 1-1 to achieve your goals. Click here to apply for my 121 coaching programme.
(Online Coach: You Made New)