The set of processes that we include under the concept of metabolism is vital for life itself. And not only in human beings, but in all living creatures. Even if we simplify it by relating it to gaining or losing weight, it is much more. Therefore, we are going to explain everything you need to know about metabolic processes.
What is metabolism?
This is the name given to the set of chemical reactions that take place in the cells of our body and whose purpose is to transform the nutrients we ingest into vital energy. In other words, into the fuel your body needs for everything it does, from walking to growing to moving.
After you consume a food and it reaches your digestive system, organic molecules called enzymes are responsible for kicking off the metabolic process. They transform proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates into simple sugars such as glucose, and fats into fatty acids.
These substances are then absorbed by the blood, which carries them to the cells. Once inside the cells, another process begins in which enzymes, different from the previous ones, start new chemical reactions to metabolize these substances.
Through this whole process, energy is released and our body uses it in two ways:
- To create and store body tissue.
- To break down these tissues and take advantage of their previously stored energy.
Depending on which process is carried out, we’re looking at two metabolic processes:
- Anabolism or the constructive metabolic process. During this process, certain small, simple molecules are modified to create larger, more complex molecules made up of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is therefore concerned with creating and storing: this process develops new cells that strengthen body tissues and produces energy that is stored as a reserve for the future.
- Catabolism or the destructive metabolic process. In contrast to the previous process, in this one, cells break down large molecules into smaller ones. The energy they produce is used by our body for its daily maintenance. For example, to move or to warm up. The waste generated in this process is, in turn, eliminated by the excretory tract.
Calculating your basal metabolic rate
Linked to all of these bodily reactions, another fundamental concept is the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This name is given to the minimum amount of energy needed by a human being at rest to carry out the basic vital functions of the body. For example, when we breathe or regulate our temperature.
It is a parameter that changes from one person to another according to their height, age, sex and weight. It is worked out, amongst other things, to help us when losing weight, since thanks to it, we can figure out how many calories our body needs. But it can also be used to detect metabolic problems and other diseases.
It is calculated by indirect calorimetry. We assume that 208 milliliters of oxygen are needed to burn one calorie. By analyzing the amount of air exhaled and the oxygen and carbon dioxide it contains, we know the energy expenditure a person needs for basic vital functions.
On the basis of the basal metabolic rate, so-called metabolic training was created. It consists of performing a series of drills with few rest periods in between. In this way, we optimize calorie burning by increasing the metabolic rate during and after training.
These exercises involve you using a lot of body parts, so they require a lot of energy expenditure. They are anaerobic and high intensity, which consumes a lot of calories. From all this, you’ll have figured out that it’s a really tough, exhausting type of training.
Electro-stimulation as a complement to metabolic training
According to what we have just explained, metabolic training involves numerous physical and biochemical processes that occur in our body. In addition, it requires performing exercises dynamically, not statically. The short, but intense bursts of exercise are followed by pauses that help to improve the blood supply to muscles and tissues. This means that it accelerates metabolic function.
And this leads us to electro-stimulation as a complement to metabolic training. Popularly known as EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation), at Wiemspro we are one of the leading specialists in our country and our suits are perfect for your gym, physiotherapy center or beauty salon.
In any case, electro-stimulation is not a substitute for training, but it is the perfect complement to it. It consists of giving the muscles mini electric shocks, which come from special electro-stimulation machines. To do this, a few electrodes are placed on the muscles you want to stimulate. These small discharges mimic the impulses of the central nervous system and intensify muscle contraction.
In this way, the muscles work harder and thus enhance the metabolic training that we described earlier. All this arms you with a series of advantages among which stand out:
- You can reduce your training time while doing the same exercise.
- Activation of the deepest layers of muscle. The electrical impulses reach them better than conventional training.
- Increase in calorie consumption and the elimination of toxins. Studies claim that your metabolism remains activated for up to 72 hours after training.
- It contributes to the recovery of certain muscle injuries and even to the improvement of certain musculoskeletal illnesses such as atrophy. It also helps to strengthen muscles in terms of both their strength and endurance.
- It increases blood circulation as well as lymphatic drainage. In turn, this improves vascularization and capillarization of the body.
- It reduces injuries. It strengthens the muscles and their resistance, causing their fibers to better withstand workouts.
However, despite all the advantages EMS can offer. There are also cases where it is not recommended to use electro-stimulation, for example, pregnant women, people with pacemakers, or those suffering from epilepsy should not use it. The electrodes must not be placed over open wounds or on the neck or spine.
Foods that speed up metabolism
On the other hand, metabolic training, with or without electro-stimulation, requires a lot of intensity. Therefore, it is advisable to balance out your effort with a rich diet and the consumption of foods that accelerate metabolic functioning. In general, these meals should include six optimal nutrient groups: water, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.
Regarding the latter, they are not recommended before or during training. But, outside of those times, they are highly recommended. The best are those contained in fruit, mushrooms and vegetables (carrots, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and lettuce, for example).
As for proteins, we advise you combine animal and vegetable proteins. For example, nuts, turkey, chicken, eggs or fish, especially oily fish, which also contains omega-3. These and other sources or protein are also rich in vitamins such as B12, C or B1 and also in minerals such as magnesium or iron.
These foods are also highly recommended for accelerating your metabolism: lentils and other legumes, spicy foods, all kinds of fruits and drinks such as natural juices, green tea and coffee, which are also rich in antioxidants. With all of them you will optimize your metabolic exercises.
Conditions that affect metabolism
On the other hand, there are many conditions that can affect these metabolic processes that are fundamental to health. Among the most important of these is hypertension, which can also lead to other serious illnesses.
These processes are also harmed by hypothyroidism. Thyroxine, the hormone produced by the thyroid gland, plays an essential role in metabolic processes. And with this condition, very little of it is made by the body. If you suffer from it, you’ll have symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain and constipation.
Conversely, hyperthyroidism damages the metabolic processes. As its name suggests, it is the opposite to the previous illness, since it relates to the thyroid producing too much thyroxine, . Among the symptoms that may make you think you suffer from it is unwarranted weight loss.
But perhaps the illness that most affects metabolic processes is diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. In the first type, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, which is also necessary for these processes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not respond to insulin correctly. In other words, it shows resistance to it.
Finally, there are some congenital diseases that also affect the metabolism. Mainly they are galactosemia, which prevents assimilation of the sugar enzyme and phenylketonuria, which is when the enzyme responsible for breaking down the amino acid phenylalanine does not respond well. Metabolizing the latter is essential for growth and for producing proteins.
Speed up metabolism
Surely you have an acquaintance who, after several months of going to the gym, cannot lose weight, or even gains it. He may be a regular on treadmills, stationary bikes, or Zumba classes. Do you know how you can get out of stagnation?
Bored, disenchanted, and with no other motivation to go to train than to lose those extra kilos that joined his adipose panicle in recent parties, he gives up training, swearing and perjuring against physical activity and the thousand and one diets that only they managed to put him in a bad mood.
This example, although a bit exaggerated, is very illustrative of what we find every day in many fitness clubs. There are ways to achieve the goal of losing weight and putting yourself in the hands of a good professional should ALWAYS be the first step, flee from false myths, magical promises, or shortcuts of dubious scientific support, is the second, and the perseverance in your daily work, the third.
As mentioned in the article by journalist Kristin Suleng for El País entitled “Why I can choose which part of my body I muscle, but not where I lose weight”, the most efficient way to lose weight is to combine high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with the aerobic. The problem is that not everyone is in the right shape to train at the intensity levels that are marked as necessary to cause that increase in basal metabolism. The majority of the population that tries these methods either give up long before reaching these thresholds or lower the intensity to be able to carry out the exercise in its entirety, which would nullify the desired effect.
But what exactly is HIIT training?
By Abraham Carlé, Researcher of the Effects 262 Group of the University of Granada.
“HIIT is a training methodology that is included within the types of high-intensity training, in which both the heart rate and the oxygen consumption are close to the theoretical maximum of the athlete, and can even exceed them. In this case, it is high-intensity interval training and it alternates times of work and rest. The key is to work at the maximum execution speed possible during each work period. The way to progress in this type of training is based on the density of the training and the total time of the HIIT. Even though these methodologies arose by applying them to cyclical exercises such as pedaling or running, they have become popular in the fitness sector, in which a wide variety of exercises are used and even mixed with other types of methodologies for some time. training”.
Today there is a tool that, in the hands of qualified professionals, can take ordinary mortals to levels of intensity sufficient to be able to be in HIIT, and, due to this, the basal metabolism rises for the next three days.
According to studies by Dr. Francisco Amaro-Gahete, from the University of Granada, HIIT training, combined with full-body electrostimulation, increases the benefits, in terms of weight loss, of the aforementioned method.
The intensity caused by training with this tool, together with the HIIT method, makes it possible for those who, under normal conditions, would not endure a session of this type at the necessary heart rate levels, obtain the desired effects of increasing basal metabolism. during the 72 hours following training.
But what is full body electrostimulation?
Carlé defines whole body electrostimulation, or WB EMS, as “a non-invasive technique, mainly oriented towards physical training and physiotherapy, in which muscles are stimulated by controlled electrical currents, causing muscle contractions controlled. For its application, a suit with various electrodes is used. Up to 10 muscle groups can be stimulated either simultaneously or selectively (it is not essential to use all the electrodes at the same time). This technique can be applied both passively (without physical exercise) and actively (during physical exercise), with the active application version being the most recommended.”
In addition, there is an activity that we barely notice and that has a not inconsiderable weight in our goal of losing weight: NEAT.
What is NEAT?
NEAT or TNAAE (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, in English, Thermogenesis Not Attributable to Exercise, in the language of Cervantes) is the caloric expenditure involved in those daily activities not scheduled for training. That is the energy that our body consumes to carry out common actions of our day-to-day such as climbing stairs, walking to work, picking up weight, etc.
If, in addition to raising our basal metabolism, through combined electro training with HIIT, twice a week, we increase our NEAT, the benefits multiply”, Carlé clarifies.
In San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, she has her workplace Joserra Lakunza. This personal trainer from San Sebastián has spent decades sculpting the bodies of hundreds of his clients who place in his expert hands, not only his image but also his health, and physical and mental well-being. “I deal with my clients is very similar to that of a psychologist”, he tells us on the Zurriola beach, near his center. “Once you know how far your client can go, you accompany him with preparation, not only physical but also mental and nutritional. Without one of those legs, the results rarely arrive”, clarifies Lakunza. “Psychological preparation to withstand high-intensity loads in the weeks that they have to do is essential, but working with full-body electrostimulation on the days that they have HIIT, the results are obvious,” concludes Lakunza.
Frequently asked questions about how to improve metabolism
How do I know if I have a slow metabolism?
To know if you have a slow metabolism, you can look out for certain common signs and symptoms. These may include:
- Weight gain: Difficulty losing weight or easy weight gain, even with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or lacking energy throughout the day.
- Dry skin and hair: Changes in skin and hair, such as dryness or hair loss.
- Cold sensitivity: Feeling cold more easily than other people in the same environment.
- Digestive problems: Such as constipation or slow digestion.
- Mood swings: Include irritability or depression.
If you experience several of these symptoms, it may be indicative of a slow metabolism. However, it is important to see a doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis and rule out other possible causes of these symptoms.
What is the vitamin that speeds up metabolism?
Vitamin B12 is known for its role in improving metabolism. This vitamin is essential for converting food into energy, and its deficiency can lead to feelings of fatigue and a slower metabolism. In addition to vitamin B12, other B vitamins also contribute to energy metabolism. However, it is important to remember that no single vitamin can significantly speed up metabolism; A balanced approach that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
How to increase metabolism to lose weight?
To increase metabolism and promote weight loss, you can consider the following strategies:
- Regular physical exercise: Particularly high-intensity exercises, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can increase metabolism.
- Muscle Strengthening: Muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest, so incorporating strength training can be beneficial.
- Proper nutrition: Including protein in your diet can increase metabolic rate, since the body uses more energy to digest it.
- Hydration: Drinking enough water is essential for an efficient metabolism.
- Quality sleep: Lack of sleep can negatively affect metabolism.
- Avoid very restrictive diets: These can slow down the metabolism, as the body can go into energy conservation mode.
It is important to remember that weight loss and metabolism management are complex processes that can vary significantly from person to person. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a health professional or nutritionist for personalized advice.
In conclusion, we have explained what you need to know about metabolism, metabolic training and how to improve it with electro-stimulation, if you add it to your business. If you want to know more about this and other topics, subscribe to our blog and stay up to date with what interests you.