Metabolism
In Everyday Sports Nutrition

  • What is “Metabolism”?


  • In general it's your calorie burning “potential”…and a lot more! Metabolism is a constant biochemical process, including the buildup and breakdown of body tissues that support life. There are many examples of metabolic processes in sports nutrition for women, including building carb stores and breaking down fat stores. It's not just about weight.

  • What is your metabolic rate?


  • Your rate is part of the total calories you use in a day to sustain life (breathing, heart beating, etc.), and accounts for 2/3 to 3/4 of your daily energy needs. Your remaining calorie needs are for the activity you do (beyond sustaining life) and the final calorie needs are for internal digestion-related functions.

    Check out this link to estimate your basic metabolism needs.

  • Can you control your metabolic rate?


  • You cannot control your age, gender, or genetic makeup. However, studies show that women who are fit throughout life do not see the same drop in metabolism that is seen in sedentary women. So, keep moving! As for menopause, there may be some hormonal ties to slowing of metabolism, but the likely reason women gain weight around this time is because they put "life on pause"...meaning they may take less time for planned physical activity.

    You can control your fitness level and nutrition intake. As for your fitness level, consistent cardio and resistance training gives you a metabolic edge.

  • Do you need more reasons to keep working on your fitness level?
  • The benefits include:
    More fat burning enzymes in muscle cells
    More fat releasing enzymes in fat cells
    More efficient use of carbohydrate and fat stores
    More oxygen taken in …burns fuel better
    More muscle mass maintained; more fat mass reduced, and
    More calories burned (even at rest) than non-fit person.

  • How does nutrition impact metabolism?

  • Eating below your basic calorie needs could lower your metabolism. One study showed that participants who ate less than 1200 calories lowered their metabolic rate by five percent! Simply, you can't afford to eat fewer than your life-sustaining calorie needs.

    If you are training for an event or for everyday fitness, you need to know your base calorie needs. Add to that your calorie needs for the activities you're doing. Check out these resources to estimate your total calorie needs (scroll to MyPyramid and to Institute of Medicine).

    Mixing up your nutrition is another aspect to support metabolism.
    Carbs are priority fuel for metabolism, and many carb choices provide the
    B-vitamins that are involved in many important fuel-use steps.
    Protein is needed for building the enzymes that drive the metabolic process. Lean proteins and whole grains provide iron, a mineral that is required for the last step of a major metabolic cycle. So, on an everyday basis you need to mix up your food choices to provide the body what it needs to keep the fire burning!

  • Does skipping meals impact metabolism?


  • Eating every few hours is ideal for fueling the body. If you are active everyday then you need to be fueled to endure the activity, fuel to recover after the activity, and fuel at other times in the day to meet all your nutrient needs. You can't do it all in one setting. Also, there appears to be some hormonal benefits (i.e., how insulin works) to fueling in intervals. On the same subject, but on a different point, one study pointed out that fueling several times per day led to improved body composition, but didn't make that much of a difference in total body weight. Go for the less body fat, regardless of your scale weight!

  • Are there foods that boost metabolism?


  • Not really. Green tea and hot peppers have other health benefits, but they don't raise the metabolic rate enough to make a big difference over time.