Let’s talk about fat and muscle. Fat makes up a layer between your muscles and your skin throughout your body. During a workout, though, your body does not necessarily say, “I am going to burn fat on your legs today,” or, “I am going to burn fat on your arms today.” Nope.
Instead, fat loss is the sum total of your body’s metabolism — and it doesn’t occur in just one region.
As for muscle development, your muscle definition is a sum total of muscle development, fuel and total fat loss. Thus, when you put all your eggs in one basket — and focus solely on one body part (more than others) or one type of training (like only running), you’re doing your body a great disservice.
So, what does affect your metabolism?
Sure, exercise — and a non-sedentary lifestyle — play a role. But they don’t play the whole role (In fact, dare I say, this only contributes to about 10 to 20 percent of your overall metabolism). As with most health outcomes, genetics play another 10 percent role — metabolism included. This leaves you with about 80 percent dependent on things such as lifestyle, environmental factors and nutrition.
What are the biggest game-changers in getting the body you want? What you eat, your gut health and your stress levels. These three factors are also the game-changers when it comes to boosting your fitness and performance in the gym.
Sure, our muscles need some stress to help them break down in order to build back up (i.e. your sweat session), but if we continue to fan the flame through continued exercise (with little to no recovery), our fitness only worsens.
The bottom line: Whether your goals are weight and fat loss, exercise enhancement or longevity, addressing nutrition, gut health and stress will take your body to the “next level” and also keep you from frustration in your fitness.
An analysis of more than 700 weight-loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks.
Even if your goal is not weight-related, this analysis shows the weight that nutrition plays in your own metabolism, fitness and overall health.
Also ensuring you are eating enough is a common trap folks run into in a calorie-conscious society, but the average moderately active female needs about 2,000 calories; an active male needs about 2,600 calories — or more if intensity or exercise demands increase. While calorie counting is certainly not necessary, it can help some get a baseline idea for supporting their fitness and body-shaping goals.
Working with a nutrition professional to establish a customized protocol for you can be a helpful starting place.
Perhaps even more important than your nutrition is your gut health.
The gut is the gateway to health; if your gut is unhealthy, then your health takes a hit — metabolism and fitness performance included.
Approximately three-in-four Americans experience some sort of digestive dysfunction — be it bloating, gas and constipation or lesser-known gut disturbances, such as seasonal allergies, skin breakouts, autoimmune conditions and hormonal imbalances.
Essentially, gut issues such as a “leaky gut” or bacterial overgrowth prevent you from absorbing or fully digesting all the good nutrients you put in your body in the first place.
Support your gut with these healthy digestive practices in your daily life:
• Chewing your food thoroughly and slowing down at meal time
• Drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water throughout the day
• Taking a daily probiotic and digestive enzymes with meals
• Boosting stomach acid with occasional apple cider vinegar or HCL supplementation
Approximately 90 percent of poor health conditions are associated with stress. So, when it comes to that stubborn body fat, last five pounds or fitness plateau, this statistic fits right in line.
When our bodies are stressed, they produce cortisol — our stress hormone.
Some cortisol is necessary to help us deal with stress (like running from a bear or getting through a tough workout), but if we have too much cortisol in our body — for too long — then it works against us and ultimately prevents us from achieving the results we want. In fact, sometimes, in chronic states of stress, we even lose our ability to produce much, if any, cortisol at all — leaving us equally with the inability to deal with stress.
When we have too much or not enough cortisol in our bodies, we may experience things like low immunity, dependency on coffee to function, insatiable sugar cravings, needing naps throughout the day, anxiety, stubborn body fat, fitness plateaus and many others.
Although stress is unavoidable, by recognizing the stressors in your life, you can proactively seek to eliminate stress through the simplest of things — such as connecting with friends, taking 10-minute breaks away from your screens or meditating.