Combat Obesity – How to Increase Metabolism
Obesity is still highly prevalent in the US – with 2016 state-by-state rates ranging from 20-36% – fitness professionals need to use every tool in their toolbox to provide beneficial exercise prescription and education for clients who need to lose significant weight. Obesity is directly associated with several debilitating diseases and early mortality; making it much more than an aesthetic issue. An individual looking to lose weight and keep off the pounds needs to engage in a comprehensive weight-loss strategy focused on increasing their metabolism.
Components of Metabolism
Daily metabolism is dictated by resting metabolic rate (RMR) and voluntary metabolism. RMR is based on many factors such as genetics, gender, age, lean body mass and hormonal activity. Fitness professionals can manipulate all aspects of a client’s metabolism, but the voluntary elements including physical activity and the thermic effect of food (TEF) tend to be key focus points. An increase in TEF can be obtained by increasing lean protein, fiber, spicy food and complex carbohydrate intake in the diet – while limiting simple sugars, processed foods and unhealthy fats.
Increasing Metabolism – Broad Picture
As seen in the pie-chart, physical activity plays a primary role in increasing a standard client’s calorie-burning capabilities and daily metabolism (up to 35%). This is a simplified illustration as various other factors come into play such as nutrient timing and hormonal influences. In any case, a greater volume of activity in general will increase one’s potential for weight loss as well as increases in intensity to promote a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which can boost metabolism for hours after a workout.
Weightlifting and high-intensity interval training are effective means by which to increase EPOC. The potential increase in muscle mass with weightlifting will also increase RMR over time. Clearly, fitness professionals should focus their attention on increasing overall daily activity; the more oxygen one utilizes each day the more calories they burn (5 kcals/L). This ties in with the concept of MET intensities (metabolic equivalents) which are essentially an indicator of how much oxygen must be used to perform a given activity. This makes METs very useful for estimating caloric expenditure when available on a cardiovascular machine or measurable via activity MET charts.
Increasing Metabolism – The Specifics
A 24-Hour Physical Activity Recall can be used to make realistic changes to a client’s daily activity. This will allow you to make subtle changes where necessary outside of the weight room. For example, if your client uses the elevator, recommend that they use the stairs instead. If they usually do a lot of their basic shopping online, suggest that they go for a walk around the neighborhood. Make sure they park in the back of parking lots and take their dog for an extra walk occasionally. Every little bit of extra oxygen consumed by movement counts – and adds up over time.
A common misconception is that the gym is the only place where beneficial physical activity can occur. Someone who goes to the gym 3 days a week but is sedentary at home and works at a desk for 40+ hours a day will not necessarily be healthier than someone who is consistently active outside the gym 7 days a week. The overall goal for any fitness professional is to have their clients making better daily choices concerning their dietary intake and activity levels. Regardless of whether it’s structured or non-structured exercise, changing daily habits into healthy learned behaviors will pave the way for reducing obesity in the US.