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April 7, 2009

To eat or not to eat, that is the question!

an article by our instructor Stephanie Loftin.

We all talk about our metabolism every now and then, but how much do you know about yours? Do you blame your weight gain (or for some we generally consider “the lucky ones”, weight loss) on your metabolism?

Let’s take a look at what metabolism is and figure out how it applies to you:

Metabolism is affected by many variables and invariables. We’ll start with what we can’t change.

  1. Our gender. Men have a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate—the rate at which our bodies burn calories doing activities necessary for living, such as breathing, sleeping, etc.) that is 10 to 15 percent higher than that of women. This lucky fact is directly related to number 1 below!
  2. Age. Sorry to say it, but yes, our BMR does slow down with age, and we can’t change our age. The cells in our bodies are more active the younger we are, so BMR is faster.
  3. Genetics. You have probably already blamed your mom or dad or a grandparent for this one. No further information needed!

So what can we do to increase our BMR? What can we change?

  1. Lean muscle mass. Men naturally have less fat than women.  We all must have essential fat for our bodies to function. Women are made to need more than men. However, unless we are already an elite athlete, most of us can stand to lose fat and gain muscle. Lean muscle mass burns calories faster, thus increasing your BMR.
  2. Eat BREAKFAST! Your metabolism slows down while you sleep. Eating when you wake up gets it going again. A lot of you say it makes you feel sick to eat first thing in the morning. If you want to lose weight, you are going to have to teach your body to accept this change. Please see your Fitness Journal for great, healthy, metabolism-boosting ideas for breakfast—before boot camp and for the days you don’t go to boot camp.
  3. Eat SMALL meals throughout the day. I eat 3 times before lunch on the days I teach boot camp. I don’t eat a lot, but I put food in my body before 5:30 class, after 5:30 class and after 8:30 class. Generally I have a small lunch and afternoon snack before a healthy dinner at night. If my lunch is out with friends, I skip the afternoon snack.
  4. You’ve heard this before, but it is true: you cannot starve yourself into weight loss (okay, you can, but it will result in death or putting it all back on and then some when you begin to eat again). Your body needs those calories to live—if you fail to feed yourself, your body starts to hang onto fat and convert the calories you are eating to fat to keep for later use. As much as we want to have control over as bodies, sometimes they have a mind of their own!
  5. Exercise! No explanation needed, but I’ll give a short one anyway: Cardio burns the calories faster than the weight-lifting BUT the weight-lifting is important to increase that muscle mass that helps burn those calories faster. See how it all fits into the weight-loss plan?
  6. Drink water. Please. Lots of reasons—too many to list, but all important.

You can make choices that affect your metabolism! So the answer to the title question is: “to eat”, but you have to make the right choices about what and when. If you no longer have your Fitness Journal and are unsure about what to eat in the mornings, please ask your instructor. We are here for you!

Stephanie Loftin

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