What is metabolism?

The metabolic rate can be described as the speed at which our bodies burn the fuel that we eat to produce the energy we need for everyday life. It is a measure of energy output over a period of time. Metabolism may differ by as much as 25% between one person and the next, though much of this may be within our control and is linked to lifestyle factors as much as it is genetics. Provided an individual has no metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism, metabolism is set by the amount of lean tissue that is present in their body. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in our bodies, though the energy used by the digestive and nervous systems is significant.

Metabolic rate is controlled by many varied factors, and is a complex control process. Age, gender, weight, fitness levels, activity levels, food consumption and type, along with genetics all play their part in determining the rate at which our metabolism works. There are also other factors at work such as hormones & the central nervous system, including conditions such as stress and depression.

Can I raise my metabolism?

Yes you can, and it is well within our power to impact on our metabolic rate. Firstly we have to understand the metabolism of food and its conversion to energy, and how our bodies utilise energy that we have made from fuel – food.

How is our energy spent?

In terms of the energy that we burn there are three primary requirements that impact our overall metabolic rate. The proportions are split roughly as follows:

1. BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate

At rest the body requires energy for the heart to beat, circulation and respiration to continue, as well as for body heat, digestion and other bodily functions required for survival. This is your BMR and it accounts for around 60% of energy requirements.

2. Activity levels

A person with average activity will use up around 30% of energy in daily routines. This figure can increase to 60% for a very active person, and can be as low as 15% of total energy output for sedentary people.

3. Dietary Induced Thermogenesis (DIT), and Adaptive Thermic Response (ATR)

These are not considered significant in terms of energy balance and are responsible for less than 10% of daily expenditure. They relate to the energy that our bodies require to process the food that we eat (DIT), and our natural response to changing climatic conditions (ATR).

When we eat

Always start the day with a good breakfast because this will start the metabolism working. Also skipping breakfast usually leads to eating more calories throughout the day, and is one of the first signs of disordered eating that correlates with overweight and obesity. It is worth noting that eating large meals late at night is likely to disrupt sleep, which in turn may lead to fatigue and depleted energy levels thus perpetrating a downturn in physical activity, and possible weight gain.

Can I take a supplement to boost my metabolism?

No. There are many supplements on the market which claim to speed up metabolism, however, despite some claiming their product is backed by scientific evidence, their use can often be dangerous, and using them for long-term weight loss is not appropriate. Most work on the principle of increasing lean tissue mass, which can only be safely done by exercise and regular activity.

What about drugs?

You will not be surprised to hear that our advice is to avoid weight loss drugs like you would a double cheeseburger and chips with a large chocolate sundae fudge on top! The most prescribed weight loss drug in the UK is Orlistat. This intriguing drug binds with your pancreatic lipase (your fat digesting enzyme) so that much of the fat that you eat simply passes through your system. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well aside from the vitamin deficiency that may follow due to the low uptake of fat-soluble vitamins, there are other unpleasant side effects: frequent, urgent and oily bowel movements, foul smelling flatulence, and leakage of oily residue from the rectum. Orlistat is usually only available for a maximum of 12 months, and very few people using Orlistat go on to maintain their weight loss longterm when the drug is withdrawn.

Thanks doc but no thanks!


Monitoring change in yourself

The measurements that we take are intended to provide an overall picture of the body composition and the changes that are occurring. Ultimately people will have their own indicators for success, and this may be dress size, number of belt notches or simply their appearance, which is entirely subjective. For this reason, do not get too hung up on any particular measurements, and treat them all as aids in helping you to progress.

Weight should be taken weekly and body fat and waist monthly, and the progress that we are looking for is gradual. The bodyfat bio-impedance machines are sensitive to hydration levels, and may vary from week to week – which is why this measurement is taken monthly.


A 1/2 – 1-kilo (1 – 2lb) weekly weight loss is an ideal target for long-term weight management. Attempting to lose more than 4 kilos per month will prove counterproductive, and could have a detrimental effect on your health.

% Body fat

A 1% – 2% reduction in body fat over a month is an excellent result.

Waist measurement

You may choose to take your own measurement at home. When taking waist measurements, the tape should be between the navel and first rib, or at the widest point around your waist.

A 2– 4 centimetre reduction in waist measurement in a month is a great result.


Optimum Nutrition

The essence of “optimum nutrition” lies in eliminating “negative” foods that will encourage weight gain, and introducing “positive” foods that will stabilise weight and provide many other health and wellness benefits. Optimum nutrition also requires regulating volume of consumption and ensuring continual variety.

The UK is an obesogenic environment, and that means that amongst other things, it is filled with inappropriate energy dense foods that we were not designed to eat. The process of returning back to eating natural foods and a healthy and nutritious diet will mean different things to different people. For some this will simply mean a few additional adjustments that will be accommodated with relative ease, whilst for others it may mean a radical overhaul of their entire approach to food, from purchase, storage and preparation to consumption. Which of these categories do you think best describes you? This may first appear a daunting concept, but with a little application and an open mind combined with our unlimited support, you will rid yourself of the blight of overweight, which the consumption of high levels of inappropriate highly processed refined artificial fatty and salty foods will always bring.

Consider how energy efficient the body is. The average car will do 40 miles per gallon, and even the most energy efficient vehicles such as mopeds will only achieve 100 mpg at best. You may not know it, but you can run your diesel car on chip fat, and the calorie value of vegetable oil and fossil oil is exactly the same at 9 kcals per gram. So for us vegetable oil is an edible fuel that is very high in energy. If you were to jump on a bicycle and take with you a gallon of vegetable oil as fuel this is what you could expect:

1 gallon oil (5 litres) equals approximately 5,000g of oil. Each gram provides 9 kcals of energy giving a total value for the gallon of 45,000 kcals. If you peddled at a moderate rate on your bicycle you could easily achieve 15mph on a flat track, using on average 300 kcals per hour. If we divide the total energy available from the gallon of oil by the number of calories burned per hour, and multiply this by the mph then we can see that our bodies can average 2,250 Miles Per Gallon!

45,000 divided by 300 kcals per hour, multiplied by 15 miles per hour = 2,250 mpg

Our bodies were designed to run on low energy foods such as natural and plant-based foods. When we start concentrating energy in the refining process, such as extracting oils from seeds and refining carbohydrates and sugars, these levels of energy are simply too concentrated for our current lifestyles, and overweight and obesity will be inevitable. Therefore next time you reach for a high energy snack, consider how long you may have to pedal your bike to burn off those calories. It may make you think again!


Why do we put on weight?

There are many issues involving weight gain, including environmental, biological and behavioural factors, many of which are complex and interrelated, some of which are not fully understood. The simple reason why we are all getting fatter is that we are eating far more calorie dense foods than ever before and are much less active.


We are all born with a specific body type or “somatotype”.



Long bones, slim, little body fat, low potential for muscle growth.


Heavy bones, broad hands, broad chest, triangular shape.


Small bones, short limbs, wide hips, generally “round” gain weight easily.

It is true that everyone is dealt a genetic hand of cards at birth. Studies of twins have demonstrated that even when separated and living in different environments, people will tend to retain the parental genetic shape, and are often inclined to put on weight alongside lean non-related siblings.

Often this can lead to resentment in overweight families at what they see as an unfair burden that they must carry through life. People will often use their perceived “bad hand” to abrogate their responsibility to make the right lifestyle choices, making things get progressively worse. It is essential to remember, that although we all start life with a set hand of cards, ultimately it is how we play those cards that really matters – no one has to be overweight.

It’s mainly environmental

The overwhelming scientific evidence that is now backed by almost all governments and health authorities, is that the major reason for the epidemic of obesity facing the western world, is a diet far too high in energy dense foods (fat and sugar) combined with a marked reduction in activity levels. This is demonstrated by the simple equation:

Calorie intake – calorie expenditure = calorie deficit/surplus

Although this equation is too simplistic to provide all the answers to successful weight management, it remains the foundation of maintaining a healthy body weight.