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Boost Your Metabolic Rate


Your metabolic rate -- the speed at which you burn calories -- has a major effect on your body composition. If your metabolism tends to be on the slow side, you'll likely struggle to build mass without putting on body fat. On the other hand, those with superfast metabolic rates can find adding muscle mass extremely difficult.

Activity levels, thyroid function, and age do affect metabolism but not nearly as much as overall percentage of muscle mass you carry in relation to overall body fat percentage. Quite simply, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn regardless of how active you are, how old you are, etc. It's metabolically active tissue that's performing important processes and burning calories 24 hours a day - even during sleep.

Dietary Changes That Can Speed Metabolism:

#1. Try "Three/One" Carb Rotation. You can throw a curve ball into your nutritional approach by reducing your total daily carb intake for three days. Cut back to 100-150 grams (g) of carbs per day, emphasizing low-glycemic carbs such as oats, rye cereal, rye bread, red potatoes, yams and yogurt. Trimming your carb intake facilitates a small metabolic shift, coaxing your body to rely on body fat as fuel.

Lower glycemic carbs also contribute to a smaller insulin surge than other carbs might generate. Although insulin is anabolic, it can increase the storage of fat. Three days of consuming fewer carbs can help prevent fat storage without forcing the body into nutrient deprivation. On the fourth day, eat 200-250 g more carbs than you regularly ate before the three-day cutback -- in other words, if you consumed 300 g daily, take in 500-550 g on the fourth day.

The high-carb day following three days of lower carbs helps fill the muscles and liver with glycogen (stored carbs). Bodybuilders have learned that this leads to greater growth. Such glycogen loading can also support growth factor (IGF) and thyroid hormones that contribute to a leaner physique. Examine your physique after trying this form of carb rotation; use it periodically if it works for you.

#2. Include Protein Cycling. Although some bodybuilders tend to fiddle with their carb intake to maintain a lean appearance while trying to add mass, most keep their daily protein intake consistent at one to one and a half grams per pound of bodyweight. But, for those trying to boost their metabolisms or offset the accumulation of body fat, decreasing protein intake a couple of times per week can help.

When you drop your protein intake slightly for a day or two, the body scrambles to maintain an anabolic state. It does so by "fighting" and becoming efficient at holding onto nitrogen, the component of protein that influences muscle growth. When you go back to your normal protein intake, the body is more apt to hold, trap and retain nitrogen, leading to an increase in growth potential that influences the metabolism.

Try eating 0.8 g of protein per pound of bodyweight for one or two days a week, then return to your regular protein intake. Be sure to keep up your intake of healthy fats and add more low-glycemic carbs, such as brown rice and oatmeal, on lower-protein days.

#3. Take Glutamine and BCAAs. When it comes to boosting your metabolism, a major issue is supporting metabolic recovery and tissue repair. A combination of glutamine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) taken after training can promote protein synthesis and prevent muscle protein breakdown. These two supplements are great o use regardless of your current diet, but are especially important during times when you are restricting the amount of carbs you intake in an effort to trim fat. Adding to your muscle mass will, in turn, keep your metabolic rate elevated or boost it higher. Taking 10 g of glutamine and 4-6 g of BCAAs can help keep you lean while enhancing your muscle building. Fat burning Supplements can also be taken to improve your body's ability to shed fat.

Factors Affecting Metabolism in Order of Greatest Impact to Least:

-Muscle tissue (you already know why this is on the top of the list)
-Meal frequency (the longer you go between meals the more your metabolism slows down to conserve energy)
-Activity level (important but negligible if you're are taking in a lot of calories)
-Food choices (ex. low-fat diets tend to result in poor hormone production which leads to a slower metabolism)
-Hydration (over 70% of bodily functions take place in water - not enough water causes all your systems to slow down and unnecessary stress)
-Genetics (some people have higher metabolisms than others - you can't change genetics but you can still win the battle!)
-Hormone production and function (think you have a slow thyroid? it's not likely - before you go blame it on the thyroid first stabilize your blood sugar and throw in some progressive exercise 2-3 times each week)
-Stress (stress also can slow metabolism by placing extra stress and strain on numerous systems. plus, many people tend to overeat when "stressed out")

Workout Guidelines for an Increased Metabolism

Strength Training
-Change exercises frequently (every 2-4 weeks)
-Increase resistance
-Perform more reps
-Slower reps

Cardiovascular Training
-Increase speed/resistance
-Perform intervals
-Increase distance traveled
-Cross train by performing numerous activities

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