12-18-2010, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: High Desert of West Texas
I couldn't figure out where to post this, whether Exercise or Daily Chat, so I finally decided to make a separate thread... this is just one guy's opinion, but I thought it was an interesting side of the subject of whether or not we should try to raise our metabolism... see what you think...
From Brad's Blog
High Metabolism ReThink
by Brad Pilon
This is one of those ‘thinking out loud posts’
And today I’m thinking about metabolism.
It kind of dawned on me today that things that increase our metabolic rates are most likely stressors or irritants.
Things like the components in green tea (EGCG) are able to minimally increase our metabolic rates…most likely because they are stressing or irritating our systems, causing them to work harder.
In fact, in the case of green tea (and caffeine) this result is short lived, most likely as a result of hormesis; which means our bodies adapt to this stressor and there ceases to be an effect on our metabolism after repeated doses.
In other words, your body can ‘get used’ to constant coffee/green tea consumption causing them to stop having much of an effect (if at all).
It could probably be argued that the ‘health’ benefits of these types of compounds occur once the ‘metabolism’ benefit ceases.
Regardless..thinking of things that increase our metabolic rates as ‘irritants’ or ’stressors’ certainly changes the feel.
Funny how semantics work like that.
But when you think of more obvious examples there is some common sense to it all.
Overeating can cause an increase in your metabolism. Even one day of ‘crushing it’ can massively increase many markers of inflammation and oxidant stress and creates a stressful state as the body tries to figure out what to do with such a giant influx of calories.
In other words, it stresses the body and increases the amount of work it has to do…thus increasing the metabolic rate.
Repeated exercise is another great example.
Repeated bouts of sprints increase metabolic rate. Mostly because they are creating a stressful environment where the body has to do more work.
So really, its a similar mechanism to how sepsis, infection and burns increase metabolic rate…even some people who’ve had a heart attack see a slightly increased metabolic rate after wards, as they’re working harder to supply the body with blood using a compromised cardiovascular system.
Even adding more muscle mass creates a situation where your body has to work harder to supply oxygen and nutrients to those muscles, as well as carry the weight of those muscle around…so more work, which means a SLIGHTLY higher metabolic rate…(note that I said “Slightly” higher)
Another example would be the drug 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP). DNP increases metabolic rate by making the metabolism less efficient. The effects of DNP are so powerful that it can potentially raises body temperature to the level where it will actually kill you.
So to review, DECREASED efficiency, stressors, and irritants all increase metabolic rate.
(Funny how people suggest that a high metabolism is a sign of efficiency)
Now as I said earlier the smaller versions of these things, probably create a hormetic effect where they force the body to be flexible and adapt which may improve some markers of overall health, but at the same time increasing our resistance to fluctuations in metabolic rate.
Opposite to the smaller stressors, Larger stressors like exercise or disease and some drugs can cause big increases in our metabolic rate, but they also usually necessitate some degree of ‘down time’ while we recover.
So metabolism (or more correctly metabolic rate) becomes much more complicated than ‘higher is better’.
But to be clear, I’m not advocating the benefits of a slow metabolism either.
If your metabolism is the net energetic costs of the chemical reactions that keep you alive..it makes sense this is not something you would want to ever to become overly ‘low’ or ’slow’
Since improving efficiency can only take you so far, we must think that for any lowering of metabolic rate beyond what we can explain with simple ‘efficiency of energy use’ would suggest a disease state like hypothyroidism.
But chances are your metabolism is much closer to ‘normal’ than it is to either being extremely high or extremely low.
In fact, research has shown us that if you take two groups of people;
Group 1: who thinks they have a fast metabolism (typically lean and energetic people)
Group 2: people who think they have a slow metabolism (typically overweight and tired)
You’ll find that their metabolic rates are the same no matter what they ‘feel’ like or what their self diagnosis is about their own metabolic rate (the point is you don’t know if your metabolic rate is fast or slow without having it tested, you can’t ‘FEEL’ it).
Most likely your metabolic rate is close to what any good estimator would calculate given your age, height and lean body mass.
But again..does any of it matter?
Your body regulates it’s metabolic rate rather tightly, and there is almost no way it will be going up or down by any significant amount other than being in a severe disease state.
After all - if metabolic rate went up, then something, somewhere is doing more work…so we have to ask ourselves, ‘why?’ and is this a ‘good thing?’
This is why I don’t even like thinking about metabolism and metabolic rate.
It makes my head spin, and I do NOT think it’s the answer to our weight loss woes.
All of these stresses and irritants and the way the body reacts to them….that’s what health is.
An occasional overeat, fasting, resistance training, even running and activities…you stress the system, then let it recover.
If the stress is right and recovery is allowed you get the response you want.
But if the stress or irritant is constant, and strong enough to cause a large enough increase in metabolic rate such that ‘you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight’….let’s face it…you are in a disease state.
The same goes for a metabolism that is so slow that you gain weight regardless of how little you eat.
But for everything else, there’s the simple approach of eating less to lose weight.
Eat Less, Lift More, Stress Less, Enjoy the foods you eat.
Leave the rest for coffee shop chit chat.
~ What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~
American Poet, Pulitzer Prize Winner
~ It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards. ~