The first step working with my dietitian was metabolic testing. I’ve wanted a concrete answer for years on my metabolism, and how many calories I should be eating.
First, a basic definition of metabolism. Metabolism refers to all the physical and chemical processes in the body that convert and use energy.
A couple weeks ago we tested my resting metabolic rate, RMR. Four hours prior you cannot eat, drink, or exercise. To test, you breathe (with your nose plugged) for 10 minutes into a tube attached to a machine. The machine is reading the amount of oxygen inhaled to the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled. It’s a little awkward at first, but after a few minutes I adjusted.
My RMR is 1,310. That means if I were to do nothing for the entire day, not even pet a dog as she referenced 🙂 , my body burns 1,310 calories.
Average RMR for my height and weight is 1,397. So mine is slightly low. But I’m not too shocked.
I’ll try my best to explain it as good as Meg did.
My average caloric intake falls around 1,500 (a number I thought appropriate based on online estimations). Estimate 200 calories burned through everyday movement and another 200 burned through exercise. That leaves 1,100 calories of ‘fuel in the tank’.
Caloric intake below your RMR puts you in starvation mode. We now know my body needs 1,310 calories just to exist. Since I am only providing 1,100 calories of fuel my RMR slows down over time in an attempt to match. Our body’s crave homeostasis. They do not respond well in starvation move, and look to conserve energy.
Metabolism can be a slippery slope. Excess calories can cause weight gain, but too few can slow your metabolism and harm efforts as well. Without adequate food, energy levels go down, so metabolism slows.
Meg showed me two lists. One of factors that slow your metabolism over time and the other with factors that help speed it up. As we went over them, I currently have more contributors working to slow my metabolism than speed it up.
Of those –dehydration, sleep patterns, not refueling post workout, unbalanced meals, and not eating enough (which I detailed above).
I’m bad about neglecting my water intake. I either actively pay attention to it and drink a lot or nearly dismiss it altogether. My sleep cycle has been pretty messed up the last couple years. Unfortunately it isn’t something I can actively fix. Hopefully with better nutrition and better schedules it improves.
I’m not always great about refueling after my workouts. Often times I put it off until my next planned meal which could be several hours later. I’m also guilty of falling prey to the notion ‘carbs are bad’, although I do know this is not an accurate statement. They’re a necessary source of energy, especially for exercise. Over time having unbalanced meals (carbs / proteins / fats) and an unbalanced diet in general can slow your metabolism.
Fortunately I do exercise regularly, and do not skip meals. Both of which are good for metabolism. The other great thing is we can work on raising our RMR over time.
My next steps are working on those areas I fall short. Upping my caloric intake to 1800-2000. Concentrating on more balanced meals, which means putting a little more prep time in again! Paying attention to my water intake, and refueling post workout. Baby steps, nothing happens overnight.
Presently me and MyFitnessPal are becoming reacquainted. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this, but I’m actually liking it. The first couple weeks were a rocky start. After our dog passed away 🙁 I wasn’t great about staying on track. It’s life! But now things are settling back down, so back to it.