Development of Metabolic Flexibility

Your metabolism is the chemical engine that keeps you alive. The metabolism varies one person to another based on its quantity and its quality.

The quantity of your metabolism is expressed as your calorie expenditure, your metabolic rate, or, the total amount of energy that you use each day.

The quality of your metabolism is determined by your ability to use multiple energy sources to fuel day-to-day living, digestion, activity and exercise. Within 21st century life, the majority of us are tapping into sugar as our primary fuel, this choice of primary fuel was not always the norm; for our ancestors, fat would have been our primary fuel, even the leanest of people have enough fat stored to fuel multiple days of activity.

So, why the switch to sugar over fat?

Refined carbohydrates processed baked goods and sugars have become a cornerstone of the modern western diet, our primary fuel choice has switched towards sugar and away from fat. Previously, our ancestors would have had minimal processing in their diet and only seasonal simple sugars in the form of fruit.

The time pressure and stress of 21st century life also exacerbates our reliance upon the convenience and quick energy that sugar and refined carbohydrates give us. When we over consume carbohydrate foods and sugar we develop a resistance to the hormone insulin, our bodies desensitisation to insulin leads to poor appetite regulation, unreliable energy and blood sugar chaos as experienced in pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Strength training is part of the solution of developing metabolic flexibility as it increases our insulin sensitivity (1). This improvement of insulin sensitivity helps you to regulate appetite and feel satiated, make better food choices, stabilise emotions and enhance mood, and cultivate reliable through the day energy. But, most impact fully; you start to shift towards being able to burn fat as fuel and sparring your stored carbohydrate fuel.

Protect and Manage your Body Composition.

So, strength training impacts the quality of your metabolism positively, but strength training also has a positive impact upon the quantity of your metabolism.

Your total energy expenditure is composed of the following 4 areas:

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): Your metabolic rate during sleep or deep rest. It is the minimum metabolic rate needed to keep your lungs breathing, heart pumping, brain ticking, and body warm.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): The number of calories burned while your body is digesting and processing food. TEF usually represents about 10% of your total energy expenditure.

Thermic Effect of Exercise (TEE): The increase in calories burned during exercise.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): The number of calories required for activities other than exercise. This includes fidgeting, changing posture, standing, and walking around.

As you gain muscle via strength training your body produces more heat, as you gain muscle your BMR, TEE and NEAT all increase. The increased energy usage makes managing your body composition much easier. In every single minute, of every day you will be using more energy and if your metabolic flexibility has also enhanced, more of those calories will be coming from your stored fat.

Improves Posture, Reduce Aches and Pain and Increase Function.

Taking a long term approach to strength training has multiple benefits upon your function, whilst ‘Functional Training’ is a buzz word around fitness, what it actually means is often missed, functional training should bring about an increase in your own function, we are all at a different stage of our physical development, an increase of function for one of us might be an ability to stand from a chair without the use of our hands, for another it might be better pelvic floor control that allows us to go on the trampoline with our children. Function can be recognised from every aspect of life and more often than not, increasing strength is a defining factor in developing new levels of function.

Balanced strength training will strengthen your back, shoulders, core, hips and legs helping to correct bad posture so that you can stand taller, with feet connected, hips through, shoulders back and spine long.

There is also a great impact of strength training upon connective tissue and joints. Strong joints, ligaments, and tendons are important to prevent injury and can relieve pain from osteoarthritis. Strengthening muscles and connective tissue will make injury from daily tasks and routine exercise less likely, and can even improve sports performance.

Create tone, firmness, shape and curve in your body.

The increased muscular quality that comes with regular strength training enhances muscular tone and density, muscle tissue is tightly packed, fitting into a smaller space than the same weight of fat and presenting firmness through the muscle and the connective tissue.

One of the most common reasons women avoid strength training is because they are afraid of “bulking.” Women simply have a much tougher time of gaining muscle than their male counterparts, the hormonal differences between the sexes mean that men are predisposed to bulk at a quicker rate than females.

With 10 to 30 times less testosterone than men, if you see a female with a great muscle mass, tip your hat to the effort, commitment and continuity they must have had in their training.

Increase bone density.

Strength training not only strengthens muscle and connective tissue, it also stimulates new bone growth. The resultant increase in bone density, which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones. 

Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures. The increased prevalence of bone density issues in females makes the argument for keeping up with strength training through out life a compelling one.

Enhance Mood and Reduce Stress.

Exercise and strength training release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression.

An increase in endorphins naturally reduces stress and anxiety. Endorphins also stimulate the mind, improving alertness and boosting energy. Strength training can brighten your entire day or help you combat a bad one.

References

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