Metabolism: Convert Energy to Heat
It was on my cycling commute Monday when I got to thinking a bit about how the internal combustion engine in your car creates motion and heat not too much unlike the way your body creates motion and heat.
Your car’s engine combines fuel and oxygen to create thousands of tiny chemical reactions that run your car’s engine. The faster these (extremely quick) reactions (called explosions) occur, the faster your engine runs.
The primary fuel types are octane and, to a lesser degree, ethanol, both (carbon based) organic compounds. Byproducts of this chemical reaction are heat, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other carbon particles.
Your body similarly uses (carbon based) organic matter as fuel for motion. Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins … all organic compounds… undergo chemical reactions with oxygen that contract muscle fibers. We even talk about it the same way: ” … doing some cardio to burn a few more calories.”
In this context, your body is little more than a heat producing machine!
A Calorie, is in fact the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water 1 degree centigrade. So, ‘burning calories’ is technically, literally, and figuratively accurate. But we also call it metabolism. At the chemical level metabolism is merely the production of heat through the conversion of energy sources into body motion. Our bodies are, therefore, heat producing machines!
The byproducts of metabolism is (like the internal combustion engine) heat, carbon dioxide, and other carbon particles.
How, and in what proportion these fuel sources are utilized is fully described in my Heart Rate Zone Training to Look and Feel Fantastic report. It seems that the website that had once hosted this document is broken, so just shoot me an email if you’d like a copy. Or, check out my Fat Burning Myth blog from a few months ago for a quick tutorial. The philosophy is quite simple: the larger your metabolic engine, the more fuel you require.
Quite simply put, if you have more body fat fuel than you’d like, making your metabolic engine a bit larger will help, quite literally, to burn off that fuel!
So, here are a few tips for boosting your metabolism, consuming more fat, and looking better than ever in your summer swim wear!
- Increase your lean body mass. Lean body mass includes bone, blood, and muscle tissue. Increasing your lean body mass allows you to consume more energy when you exercise, but, and more importantly, increased lean mass allows you to consume more energy when you are at rest. And we are typically at rest as much as 95% of the day, so having a larger, idling engine burns more fat. Lean body mass is living, “breathing”, calorie consuming tissue that continually requires fuel. And just as a large SUV V8 engine will consume a lot more fuel than a compact 4 cylinder engine, the larger your body’s fuel consuming engine, the more fuel you’ll consume.
- Increase your exercise frequency. As mentioned back in December, Exercise Quickies will boost your daily metabolism: two smaller workouts per day will consume more energy on the whole than a single, longer workout. Additionally, the recovery period following those workouts also requires elevated metabolism. Maybe you really should start walking the dog each morning!
- Just move more! Exercise yes, but also find ways to simply use your body more. While no longer available, the American Heart Association ran the Just Move campaign for years with this sole objective. Check out my Spread Office blog for ways to be more active in your sedentary office job. Bike to work instead of driving! Use the good old fashion hand masher tool to mash your potatoes instead of the mix master. Carry your groceries. Park in the most remote section of every parking lot you drive to. Etc. Here’s a good collection of other ways to turn your daily chores into more active events.
- Take advantage of our Get Fit Fast Fifteen Percent off May promotion! Or, give us a call for a free consultation.