Exercise And Your Metabolism: A Better Way To Look At It


070227_headphones_vmed_2pstandardI truly believe that the phrase ‘reving up your metabolism’ should be struck from our vocabulary here at Go Healthy GoTreadmill Fit. Why, you ask? The phrase insinuates that you have complete control over your metabolism and I simply believe that is not the case. It’s like saying that a surfer can shape a wave to make it more ‘ride-able’, it just doesn’t work that way.
I recently caught an article in MSNBC, Exercise Not Likely To Rev Up Your Metabolism, which takes a look at a very interesting study on post-workout fat burning capabilities of the human body. According to the article:

  • In the new report, published in the journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, Melanson and colleagues discuss research to date on the issue of burning fat during and after exercise. The authors conclude that while people do burn more fat when they are exercising than when they are not, they have no greater ability to burn fat over the next 24 hours than on days when they are couch potatoes.”

The overall assessment of Melanson and his colleagues is that a fat burning endeavor which puts all the eggs in one basket (working out in this case) will inevitably come up short due to the simple math and power of the caloric deficit. In other words, just exercising will not be enough to get the job done.

  • The new paper offers additional evidence that exercise does not boost metabolism as much as widely believed, Endress says. In addition to the misperception that exercise greatly hikes fat burning after exercise, there is also the false belief that weight training dramatically increases metabolism by adding muscle, he notes.
    While it’s true that a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat — about seven to 10 calories a day versus two calories — most people don’t put on enough muscle to make much of a difference, Endress says.”

While I agree with the overall sentiment of the experts who conducted the research as well as the author of the article, I have a few points of my own that I’d like to illustrate:

  • The statement that ‘most people don’t put on enough muscle to make much of a difference’ is an unbelievable cop out in my mind. You should never compare yourself to others first off, and second, the majority of people DO have the ability to put on muscle as long as they are meticulous about it. It’s simply a matter of will.
  • Metabolism should be viewed as an individual indicator, not a changeable attribute. Most people have a pretty good grasp on just how fast or slow their metabolism is, and therefore your metabolism should be treated as a level of difficulty, depending on your goals of course. If you’re trying to gain weight but you have a fast metabolism, you will find it more difficult to put on muscle. Think back to the surfing analogy. A surfer knows that waves at Waimea will be a tougher challenge than at Waikiki.

The article does not take into account the effect that shaping your body has on your psyche and consequently your drive to attain further goals in your physique. Weight training properly can allow you to shape your body, lean and mean or big and buff. But either way, as you see gains you may be more inclined to pay more attention to your diet and therefore increase your body’s fat-burning ability. Because while losing weight is all about a caloric deficit, burning fat also has to do with eating properly.

These days it seems as though the fight between diet or exercise as being more effective in fat burning/weight loss is a losing battle. Because if you’re looking to see results that will make it all worthwhile, you’ve gotta do both. Although it seems like you will be picking the hardest way to do it, that’s how it’s going to get done right.
surfing photo provided by Flickr user Chad Podoski





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