Metabolism is the most crucial element to know and master if you want to lose fat and develop your muscles. Because if despite all your efforts, you cannot make your abs appear and have big muscles well drawn, it is probably because of your metabolism. Or more precisely because your diet and your workouts do not allow your metabolism to trigger the mechanisms of fat loss and muscle building.
This content will include an emphasis on metabolism so that you understand how it works, and how to adapt your diet and your training to have a muscular body and drawn all year.
What exactly is metabolism?
Your metabolism is all the physical and chemical activities in your body that transform or use energy to keep you alive, develop, and regenerate your cells, and respond to the stimuli of your environment. Many factors play an essential role in the level of your metabolism. Some factors determine the level of your primary metabolism and other the level of your overall metabolism.
The primary metabolism is the minimum daily energy expenditure that allows the body to survive, ensuring the functioning of your organs, your breathing, your brain, the repair of your cells, etc. Some factors affect your basal metabolism and over which you have little or no influence such as your age, gender, genetics and elements that you can manipulate such as your amount of muscle mass and body fat.
The energy requirements for the essential functions of your body remain relatively constant and are difficult to change. Your basic metabolic rate is about 50 to 70 percent of the calories you burn each day. In addition to your primary metabolism, two other important factors determine how many calories your body burns each day:
Food thermogenesis which is the energy needed for your metabolism to ensure the digestion, absorption, transport, and storage of the food you eat. That’s about 10% of your daily energy intake. Food thermogenesis is influenced by the nature of the nutrients you consume.
The energy cost associated with the consumption of carbohydrates is about 5 to 10%, lipids about 2 to 3% and proteins about 20 to 30%. So, for example, when you eat 100 calories of protein, 20 to 30 calories are burned by your metabolism to digest and assimilate these proteins.
Physical activity is the most critical factor and has the highest impact. To elevate your metabolism, you have to do workouts that disturb the balance of your body, draw on your energy reserves, and force your body to adapt. Exercises such as metabolic weight training, HIIT, and interval training will allow you to raise your metabolic level for long hours to burn the fat continuously.
All of these factors specific to your body make you a person with a unique metabolism. You must, therefore, determine your own dietary needs and manage your physical activity to ensure that your metabolism burns your fat and develops your muscles.
Anabolism and catabolism
In all the reactions that constitute your metabolism, we find anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is the constructive metabolism, it uses small things to make bigger ones, and it needs the energy to do this work. For that, your metabolism uses simple molecules to create complexes, in the same way, that a mason will use simple elements like bricks to make a house.
The increase in your muscle mass and body fat are, for example, anabolic phases of your metabolism. Your body, for instance, will use amino acids to synthesize new muscle proteins or fatty acids to increase your body fat stock. Catabolism is destructive metabolism, it breaks down big things into little things, and in most cases, there is a release of energy in the process.
For example, digestion is a catabolic activity, because when you eat staple food, your body can not use the nutrients as they are, it has to break them down to assimilate them. For example, proteins are broken down into amino acids, complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates and fats into fatty acids and cholesterol.
This process also releases energy that is stored by the anabolic metabolism in the form of glycogen and fat, or used as a direct source of energy by your body. Melting your body fat and muscle tissue are catabolic phases of your metabolism.
If you desire to increase your muscle mass, you must have a predominantly anabolic metabolism, and if you’re going to lose fat, you must have a predominantly catabolic metabolism.
Hormones at the heart of metabolism
During these two metabolic processes, a large number of hormones intervene. Hormones are regarded as the messengers of your body; they are the ones who give instructions to your cells.
It is they, for example, that order your muscles to synthesize new contractile proteins and store energy reserves. Anabolic hormones are, for example, growth hormone, IGF1, insulin, testosterone for men, and estrogen for women.
Insulin is a powerful storage hormone that is released when you eat carbohydrates, and your blood sugar goes up. Its role is to order your cells to store glucose in your blood, as glycogen in your liver and muscles and as triglycerides in your fat cells. Growth hormone stimulates the development, reproduction, and regeneration of your body’s cells, such as your muscle cells.
Testosterone is a powerful steroid hormone, which has an essential anabolic effect on the growth of muscle mass and strength. These hormones will help accelerate the synthesis of proteins to create new muscle tissue and promote the development of your muscle mass, but also increase your fat stocks. The two most critical catabolic hormones for muscle gain and fat loss are cortisol and glucagon.
Cortisol is the stress hormone, which can promote the melting of fat but at a rate too high and too long has the particularity of melting your muscle mass. Cortisol is bad for your muscles when you are in a state of chronic stress, such as when you have regular cardio workouts or are subject to significant and continuous mental stress.
Glucagon, on the other hand, has the advantage of degrading fat into fatty acid, to restore liver glycogen stores. Anabolic and catabolic hormones have a generally different role.
Your pancreas produces these two hormones, and their role is to balance your glucose level in the blood. When your insulin level is high to lower your blood glucose level, your body is unable to use your fat as energy, so you can store fat but not burn it.
Conversely, when your blood glucose level is low, glucagon is produced by your body to break down stored fat and raise that level. Insulin also stops the catabolic process in your muscles and therefore helps preserve your muscle mass.
Glucagon, on the other hand, converts the amino acids of your muscles into glucose, which favors the melting of your muscles. So you have to find the correct balance to lose fat without melting your muscles or building muscle without storing fat.
Metabolism and muscle gain
If you want to gain muscle, you have to do strength training and consume more calories than your metabolism burns. This additional supply of calories will be used by your metabolism to strengthen your muscles and increase your energy reserves.
If you start bodybuilding, your body can build about a kilo of muscle each week, so if you consume too many extra calories to try to build more muscle, you will get fat.
To build muscle without taking fat, you must consume an additional 250 to 500 calories a day compared to your calorie maintenance count. If you store fat easily stay on the lower end of the range and if you find it very difficult to gain weight aim the upper end.
You will need to adjust your amount of food, to find the right amount of extra calories you need to build muscle without storing fat.
Metabolism and fat loss
If you want to lose fat, you must create a calorie deficit and maintain this deficit as long as you want to lose fat. We will use your maintenance level calculated previously, to define your caloric deficit according to your objective.
• Conservative deficit: 15-20% below your maintenance level (slow fat loss and maintenance of muscle mass)
• Moderate deficiency: 20-25% below your maintenance level (fast fat loss and maintenance of complicated muscle mass)
• Aggressive lack: 25-30% below your maintenance level (fast fat loss and maintenance of muscle mass complicated)
The more fat you lose, the lower your level of support can be to lose fat faster. But decreasing your calorie intake too quickly can cause your energy to drop, slow down your metabolism, reduce your ability to train hard, increase your hunger, make you tense, and in a bad mood.
It is not advisable to reach below the 30% caloric deficit, because your body will quickly activate survival mechanisms and go into “starvation” mode. Your body will, therefore, seek to increase its fat reserves and instead decompose your muscles, which are large energy consumers, to provide him with some of the calories he needs to continue functioning.
This will lead you directly to a loss of muscle mass and a drop in the level of your metabolism. Your body will need fewer calories to work, and your weight loss will slow down.
And when you make a gap, your extra calories will be stored directly as fat. So you need to locate the right balance, so you do not go down your caloric intake too much but reduce it enough to lose fat fast enough.