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Crank Up Your Metabolism and Digestion

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Crank up that Metabolism!

What can I do to crank up my metabolism and/or digestion? Thanks!
Don, San Diego

Basal metabolism:  The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.

zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your basal metabolic rate.”

There are 11 variables that affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training radio episode.

It’s Burpee Time!

By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, though, in case you’re not into “jumpy” moves. You could do spiderman push-ups, which are very low impact.

We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism”  by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your old ass donkey doing nothing.

As to your digestion…the word “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!

Spiderman Push-ups: Knee to Elbow



We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!

Readers: What high intensity, low impact moves have you discovered that we can share with other readers , especially me those with bad knees?

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Photo credits: via cycloctopus (crank);  beingwell20 (burpee), Our FitFluential pal Brendon Payne (spiderman push-up)

Citation for diet stats:

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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9 Responses to Crank Up Your Metabolism and Digestion

  1. Tamara November 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Great post! I wrote about interval training today too! (And thanks for including that fun interview we did back in the summer!).

    A couple of upper body high intensity intervals for your readers;

    1) Medball slams; the heavier the better. I like to do them two different ways. Slamming them straight down to the floor (using legs, arms and shoulders) and slamming them at a wall (using chest too)

    2) Weighted alternating front jabs. Choose a 3 or 5 lb sets of dumbbells, adopt a ‘ready stance’ and alternately press them out in front of you at shoulder level. Heart rate will definitely come up if you do them fast enough!

    3) Jumping “pull ups” on the Smith machine. Place the bar high enough so that when you reach up with arms outstretched you can just grab it with an overhand grip. Use the legs to give yourself a jumping start (but not too much of a jump; low impact here!) and repeatedly pull chest up to the bar. 10-20 of those baby’s and you’ll be huffing and puffing!
    Tamara recently posted..#Fatblaster Friday | Why we all need to do cardio interval workoutsMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit November 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Thanks Tamara. I am teaching a Tabata class next week and shall officially steal your #2 idea. I love it. And not only did we post to your interview, we also posted to your blog. I went through your site for a link to a Tabata post, but realized you had so many good ones (including today 11/30/12) that I just linked to your home page. You da Tabata bomb!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Kettlebells or Medicine Balls When Strength Training for a Marathon?My Profile

  2. Jody - Fit at 55 November 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    I am so short of time right now & sis visit is upon me & still cleaning! :) GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!!!!! I do mix it up & make my own kind of weird workout BUT I do include what you have written about so I am happy I am doing something right! :) I will be gone for 7+ days from social media but will check email if you feel the need to share your craziness! :)
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Hot Cross BUNS! Tight Buns Calling!My Profile

  3. Blond Duck December 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Have you ever thought about roller blading? I’m considering trying it over carpet when I’m traveling for Christmas and have no access to a gym– I need low impact and low impact aerobics don’t get my heart rate up! (Plus, carpet is a lot softer than cement!)
    Blond Duck recently posted..A New WhimsyMy Profile

  4. Rebecca December 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Great post! I always try to do a mix of cardio and weights – keeps it interesting and maximizes the health benefits. Will be trying out the spiderman pushups at the gym tomorrow, amuse my fellow gym-mates :)
    Rebecca recently posted..The Vegetarian Food PyramidMy Profile

  5. Yum Yucky August 13, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    “digestion” makes me remember the time I thought I broke my stomachs a few years ago: Food poisoning from Taco Bell. So imagine how I felt a few days ago when my kid comes in the house with a bag of Taco Bell. I try to teach them well, but are they really listening?
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Pictures from the Yum Yucky HomesteadMy Profile


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