What Is Your Metabolism?

You've probably heard the word "metabolism," especially as it relates to weight loss or gain. But what is your metabolism, what does it do, and do you have any control over it? Get-Fit Guy Brock Armstrong explains.

Brock Armstrong
7-minute read
Episode #424
The word metabolism in the dictionary

The factor which messes with our body’s health the most is the growing amount of time that we spend having nearly zero electricity flowing through our muscles.

Passive tissues are doing nothing for your metabolism or your physical well being. Active tissue is kickstarting your metabolism and your health. I have said it before and I will say it again: The hours you spend sitting at your desk or slouched on the couch cannot be erased or negated with 30 or even 90 minutes of dedicated exercise.

Just to be clear:

  • Passive = sitting in your car on the way to work. 

  • Active = pedalling your bike or walking to work.

  • Passive = sitting (or even standing still) at your desk.

  • Active = pacing around your office.

  • Passive = writing this article on my laptop.

  • Active = gesturing wildly while dictating into Google Dictation.

How Do You Increase Your Muscles' Metabolism?

First, let’s start by actively lengthening those muscles. Having too much tension in your muscles (hypertonicity) means that they are not as metabolically active as they could be. The more metabolically active muscles would be both long, strong, and force-generating.

So, yes this means that you need to stretch your muscles but it also means that you need to use your muscles in their full ranges of motion. And that means squatting all the way down to the ground to pick up that errant pen, or stretching your body to its limits while lifting that heavy bag of flour on to the top pantry shelf.

Physical Activity and Metabolism

It will come as no surprise to you that the more active you are, the more energy (calories) you burn. In fact, some people who appear to have (or claim to have) a fast metabolism may simply be more active throughout their day (doing things like standing, walking, and fidgeting).

Any extra movement helps increase that electrical activity in the muscles I mentioned earlier. So look for simple ways to move around more and more each day. For example: park further from the store entrance, take the stairs rather than the elevator, get up out of your chair every hour.  Activities like taking care of kids, gardening, and even housework also create electrical activity in the muscles and boost metabolism.

Strength training (not just lifting weights) is a great way to add more metabolically active tissue to your body. And this becomes even more important as we get older because it helps counteract muscle loss associated with aging.

Metabolism-Boosting Supplements

Beware of products that claim to speed up your metabolism because they are generally overhyped. Supplementing with things like hot chilli peppers, minerals or antioxidants may provide a small boost in your metabolism, but not a significant enough boost to make a difference in your weight. Here are a few others that make big claims but yield minimal results...


About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show.