Fat Loss, Pain & Metabolism

Welcome back!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then it’s a sure bet that you are either looking to take back control of your body or are at least pursuing a leaner, more toned body.

It also means that you know that I believe that reconditioning or at least elevating your metabolism is the keyto achieving this.

Body Weight works well...

There are many definitions of metabolism the one I like is: “Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to sustain life.”

However if you are carrying too much body fat, or want to develop more muscle and become stronger and fitter, not to mention healthier – then simply sustaining life isn’t the goal to aim for.  Just surviving shouldn’t be your standard. Changing how you look & feel, what you eat, how (& how often) you move basically moving past mere survival towards thriving, growing, exceeding, and surpassing – this is a worthy goal.

It is in fact a life goal.

Becoming fitter & leaner is as simple (& as complex) as the fact that the higher level your metabolism functions, the better become your results as far as fat loss and maintaining a slim, trim body. Notice I didn’t say the more efficient your metabolism becomes…(although it will of course do so)…in many ways we want our metabolism to stay somewhat irregular because once your body become efficient at anything homeostasis sets in and your body fights against change…

It is better to think in terms of elevating your metabolism by manipulating the components of it that we can exert influence over. Of course once you’ve achieved your desired fat loss / lean body then keep doing what got you there and create a new metabolic set point – this way you co-opt your body’s desire for homeostasis to work for your goal, not against it…

Metabolism is complex (& simple)

So let’s revisit some of the strategies that you can utilise to make your metabolism work at a higher rate for you…

Human metabolism can be broadly broken down into two parts: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is concerned with tearing things down – it is the burning of calories, the digestion of food, the breaking down of body tissues for energy or as a precursor to rebuilding (think sore muscles after a hard work out – for the sake of simplicity the muscle soreness you feel is associated with catabolic processes). It is essential the processes whereby your body fuels your cells with energy by breaking down available fuel sources.

Without the catabolic part of metabolism we would not have the energy to provide the energy to our muscles that is needed to stand, sit, move, breathe and generally create movement. It is often talked about in a negative sense but without catabolism we would just be inert sacks of chemicals & minerals.

The other side of this simplified metabolic coin is Anabolism. The anabolic side of the equation is the building part of our metabolism. Cell repair, muscle, hair, & nail growth are all anabolic processes. Basically anabolism takes energy and uses it to link / bind chemical compounds together to make larger molecules & cells.

In order to use these processes in your quest to become less fat, stronger & healthier you need to maximise both of them. For catabolism this means challenging, regular exercise that causes your muscles & other energy pathways to burn fuel like fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. For anabolism it too means challenging exercise coupled with protein and nutrient rich foods. The more intensely that you

Tabata protocol using KBs works both sets of muscles & burns fat...

train the more your metabolism elevates and more opportunities your body gains to shed fat and gain lean mass.

As we’ve seen intense training is not long duration training and more importantly training that uses protocols like Tabatas or HIIT tend to work a lot of muscles – and this is important for overall fitness, well being and fat loss.

Muscles are the furnaces that burn fat in your body. Muscles are numerous and together they have 2 general roles to play – mobility & stability. You know by now my preference for whole body workouts that use compound movements. Compound movements are important because they not only use the large muscles but they also activate and exercise the stabilising muscles. Stabilising muscles are an often overlooked component of movement & fat loss.

The larger muscles (think quadriceps, deltoids, pecs & lats) are called ‘prime movers’ and allow your body to move with what is called ‘Dynamic Mobility’– which is another way of saying through a full range of motion.

The stabilising muscles tend to be smaller, less obvious (even when developed) and lie deeper in the body & closer to the joints. Their role is to do as their name suggests – to stabilise. Stabiliser muscles like your shoulders rotator cuff, like your deep abdominals, like your infraspinitus and spinal multifidi all work to keep our bodies ‘together’ whilst it moves. Whether walking, pitching a ball, skiing a slope or sitting in a meal these muscles stop the actions of the prime movers from pulling us apart as we move dynamically. They are in use all of the time and as such are major (but oft times unsung) users of energy.

Working both types of muscles is important for another reason – if the Prime Movers become too strong &

Stress releases cortisol - belly fat anyone!!??

overwhelm the stabilising muscles then we begin to collect injuries – often chronic ones. Or if the stabilisers become weak then the Prime Movers have to pull ‘double duty’ and act not just as movers but also as stabilisers. This type of overload can lead to joint dysfunction and pain. Note I mean pain, not the soreness that accompanies a good workout, but deep lasting hurt!

Pain is read by your body as a source of stress and causes it to release stress hormones like cortisol which not only blunts anabolic metabolism but also directs fat storage to the belly area.

Chronic muscle imbalance = Pain = more belly fat.

 So in order to avoid this you’ve got to move often, move intensely, & move well. This means using compound movements (think Olympic style lifts) with activities like sprinting and walking.

To get the most out of your metabolism, both in terms of catabolism & anabolism your training should involve training intensely in a way that is without pain. Chronic Pain will constantly undermine the effectiveness of your workouts and pull your metabolic levels down.

See you next week.

Metabolism – What it is & How you can make it work for you Part 1

The next few posts on this blog will be all about giving you a solid understanding of what your metabolism is, what affects it and how you can make it work for you.

The information here will give you a better working knowledge of those parts of your metabolism that you exert some direct control over, those you can exert some indirect control over and those you just have to live with!

Having a fast metabolism means more than exercising...

If you have ever felt like you’re fighting a losing battle to shed pounds, in a sense you are.

Metabolism is NOT just about energy in versus energy out.

In our primitive past our bodies evolved so that we could store energy as fat in times of plenty (feasting) so that we are able to survive in times of scarcity. In these modern times we feast and then feast again without ever really enduring times of scarcity where food becomes rare and starvation looks likely. So this survival mechanism keeps storing energy as fat against hard times that frankly most modern humankind will never experience.

That creates problems for us because our bodies are basically fat storage machines. Very efficient ones.

The Body Shape Shifters philosophy is based around the idea of reconditioning your metabolism through a strategic mix of exercise, diet and hormone manipulation. A high metabolic rate means that we use the nutrients from our food more efficiently, maintain healthy body composition (lower fat and higher muscle levels) longer, feel better, think clearer and live healthier lives overall

What is Metabolism?

Beginning with birth and ending at death, our body receives the energy it needs to fuel itself through the processes of metabolism.

Yep - it can appear complex...

Metabolism is an umbrella term that covers the non-stop chemical processes that operate to keep our bodies functioning. Your Metabolism is primarily 2 things:

1)      The rate at which your body uses energy to support all of the basic functions that are essential to sustain your life,

2)      Plus all of the energy requirements for needed for additional activity and digestive processes.

Think of it this way – just being alive requires energy so when we talk about Metabolism it includes standing, sitting, sleeping, running, jumping, breathing, eating, digesting, having a beating heart, growing new cells, hair, skin, muscle and bone. So when we talk about our metabolic rate we are talking about the rate at which our bodies are burning the calories / kilojoules we have stored and that we get from food.

Your metabolism burns calories / kilojoules all the time, whether you’re just sitting on the couch or you’re jogging around the block. Even while we sleep our metabolism is working.

Every process that takes place in our body ultimately gets the energy to do so from the food we eat. The food we eat is broadly made up of Carbohydrates, Fats or Proteins with some micronutrients in the form of vitamins & minerals. (More detail on the effect that different nutrients have on our metabolism in later posts.) The amount of calories your body burns at any given time is regulated by your metabolism. In other words, it’s not just about burning up the food we eat, but about how the various nutrients from that food are used to help us maintain a healthy body.

There are two primary metabolic processes that take place in your body:

Catabolism – this is the breakdown of food components such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats into

No! Not that sort of anabolism!!

their simpler forms, where they are then used to create energy which can be turned into heat or burned up by your cells. This can also mean the breakdown of body tissue like muscle in the absence of other fuel sources. Catabolism is the destructive phase of metabolism, and the critical partner to anabolism, as they rely on each other to do their specific jobs. Digestion is a catabolic process that breaks your food down into smaller particles that can then be used in anabolism.

Generally characterised as ‘bad,’ catabolism is an essential part of our metabolic processes.

Anabolism – means growth or storage so energy is stored as glycogen in the liver & muscles, in fat cells (once the glycogen stores are full) or used to help build and repair structures of the body. It is most often associated with muscle growth. Anabolism is the constructive phase of metabolism, as it produces all of the substances needed in our body for it to grow, maintain and repair itself.

These two processes are carefully monitored by our body to make sure they remain in balance. However our diet, our environment and our type & amount of daily activity can all affect them both.

Ultimately our metabolism is controlled by hormones (think chemical messages that trigger processes) and by our nervous system. Hormonal problems, our physical environment and genetic disorders can all affect our metabolism. Whilst we cannot control our metabolism per se, we can make it work for us.

In part, Hormones determine how much of each of these you have...

Studies conducted by Spennewyn in 1990 found a number of strong correlations between lean mass and metabolism based on indirect calorimetry measurements. Spennewyn discovered that lean tissue in men and women required approximately 16 calories per pound per day. This means that once a person’s lean mass is known then it can be multiplied by 16 to reveal ball park daily caloric needs based on the activity level of the individual. This method has been used in many gyms, health clubs and dietician settings to determine daily caloric needs. It is not perfect.

Where is the energy used?

Energy expenditure for your body is roughly broken down like this:

  • Liver 27%
  • Brain 19%
  • Heart 7%
  • Kidneys 10%
  • Skeletal muscle 18%
  • Other organs 19%

To shift our shape by getting rid of fat we need to understand the ways & the speed with which we burn the calories from the food we eat. We cannot necessarily speed up all of your metabolic processes but we can make them more efficient.

Well that’s the basic stuff out of the way – next week we get into some terms to know and then the 4 components of your metabolism & how you can affect them for your benefit.

Be well.