What is Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic Rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.

But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you're not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don't forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

Recipe: Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

2 lemons, sliced 1 tablespoon rosemary 1 tablespoon thyme 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) or use Beyond Meat (for plant based meals) dash sea salt & pepper 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!


References: All about energy balance 10 ways to boost metabolism

Making Intermediate Fasting Personal

There's a new study out on fasting while exercising and I thought it a good time to reflect on my own fasting practice. I've been Intermediate Fasting for almost 5 years now and personally really can't think of any other way of eating/living. It's so habitual for me and my body is fully acclimated that I just wake up, drink my 16oz of filtered water, and go about my day with better energy than I've seriously ever had in my life. WHAT I WANT YOU TO COME AWAY WITH: There are many roads to fitness performance and as long as you take one that is involving both clean eating and maximizing your hormone regulation that is all I ever recommend. I'm hoping my clarifications in this post help those who are on the precipice better understand so they can apply fasting to their lifestyles successfully on all levels. Modifications can be made depending on circumstance and person, but the main essence remains the same at the core and everyone, yes I mean everyone, CAN practice some form of intermediate fasting that will work wonders for their overall health, energy, and waistline.

SCUTTLEBUTT: There's been a lot of chatter about fasting as of late and I thought I'd run through typically what I do and what my brief thoughts are on the subject.

Here's my take on Intermediate Fasting based upon my experience and research in a nutshell.

HELLO MORNING GLORY: When you wake up in the morning, you're basically in a fasted state as you haven't eaten anything in as long as 8-10 hours. The following also holds true for those who fast, which keeps the immune system efficient, and the individual fitness experience will be optimized results based upon increased recovery hormones being engaged.

When we eat ongoing, especially foods that continually spike our insulin levels such as any grains, sugary, or starchy food- no matter how healthy it may seem- what are you left with?

1) A slower metabolism long-term 2) An ineffective workout energy and recovery wise 3) Fewer calories burned over the course of the day

I don't think that sounds all that beneficial, do you?

EXERCISE AND FASTING: Now on to the other side of the equation....actually fasting prior to exercising benefits us how? Well there are 2 body states where we burn the most calories, fat, and engage glucagon(fat burning hormone) & growth hormone, and keep insulin resistance. One is while exercising and the other is while fasting. Put both of those together and...

What benefits does fasting have on your workout?

1) Stronger & longer workouts 2) So much more energy during the day (This happens because your body gives your digestive system a rest and puts the energy into other processes for you.) 3) More calories burned 4) Higher direct fat loss 5) Improve lean muscle instead of decreasing it 6) Improved recovery

YOUR PERFORMANCE: Where performance is concerned most folks don't want to just perform, but truly desire to perform very well- to the absolute best of their abilities.

There are many roads to fitness performance and as long as you take one that is involving both clean eating and maximizing your hormone regulation that is all I ever recommend. I get both of those with my Intermediate Fasting lifestyle. There are several different fasting protocols which one can introduce into their daily life in order to find which one will be the best one for them and their performance needs.

What I have found to be extremely beneficial is to adapt oneself on progressive fasting protocols in order to achieve the daily water fast. I'm not talking about eating some berries and small fruits here and there, but going as long as you can each day while adapting to the fasting process by drinking a lot of water. Your fasting goal doesn't have to be a full complete no food water fast, but get to the point where you're eating very little during the day and consuming most of your calories in the evening. I'm talking about going about fasting progressions in order to do this the proper way- water fast only with the exception of a post workout recovery meal or smoothie if you exercise during the morning or daytime.

K.I.S.S: Keep things simple and don't over-complicate anything. Water fasting may be the ultimate fasting state for health and fitness performance, but not all bodies are created equal in the regard that everyone should be a water faster. Be patient with yourself. It may take some people several months to a year or longer before progressively adapting intothis lifestyle, but with proper and intelligent progressions of the right food, food timing, food combinations, adequate food volume, proper water intake, etc... it will definitely happen. Keep things simple.

WHAT'S GOIN ON: There is a big difference between water fasting and even eating a small amount during the day if need be, compared to eating regular portioned daytime meals, due to the insulin spike and Parasympathetic Nervous System engaging.

Personally my own workouts, and that of every one of my clients, are very, very intense. Many people have attempted and went away never to return. It is my motto that hard work produces results so with that being said, give everything you've got when you workout so you reap the greatest rewards. Of course with a super high intensity of that nature one can maintain this only a few times a week without over-training so definitely pay attention to your body and listen to it when it needs recovery. Only with this mentality and applied work ethic will one truly achieve their potential.

WE'RE NATURALLY PROGRAMMED FOR FASTING: Daily Intermediate Fasting is a very natural and genetically embedded eating style into all humans naturally. If you have ever previously attempted an intermediate fasting protocol and did not experience optimal results while practicing or feel you currently couldn't then I would almost guarantee you did not give yourself enough time to fully adapt and acclimate to your program. Then again some people, due to various reasons, should probably not be full fasters, but can live a hybrid lifestyle of fasting intermixed with daily clean eating. Most who have "unsuccessfully" attempted fasting, I'm finding, do not clearly understand Intermediate Fasting practices and/or don't follow it properly and then chalk it up to not working. I speak to a lot of people, both online and in person, about I.F. and find that too many people sing the same song.

EVIDENTIALLY: All of the evidence in research is in support of fasting, not undereating. In fact there's been more research on fasting than any other type of diet style. I believe it is the utilization and recycling of one's own tissues and fat stores that makes the biggest difference between eating all day and eating at once. The body can either have constant fuel coming in to use and add to its stores and grow old, or it can constantly be recycled and replaced with new cells comprised of new atoms. Additionally fasting allows one's body to balance the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems as well.

MYTH BUSTED: I'll lose muscle if I fast won't I? It takes about 72 hours at a complete fast for the body to begin to cannibalize it's muscle tissue. In fact as long as you eat quality natural foods and getting in nutrients the body will be fine. Additionally when the hormones are triggered due to an intermediate fast, such as increased testosterone, growth hormone, and glucagon the body is in a verybeneficial state.

If you constantly eat, your body is changing its acid/alkaline balance constantly, and isn't allowed to return to its natural pH. A proper pH balance everywhere from saliva, to the stomach, to the blood is needed for a strong immune system. For example, if you are too acidic, your body leeches calcium from your bones to bring pH up. Conversely, if blood is too alkaline, calcium deposits may form. A good hi-fat diet, which will produce ketones (acidic) is easily compensated for by increased oxygen levels in the blood unless one is in a state of diabetic keto-acidosis which is an entirely different condition altogether and produces much higher levels of ketones.

QUICK BREAKDOWN: Alternating between high-fat and high-carb days allows the body to negate any ill-effects of one or the other. While a high fat meal is digesting for 10 to 12 hours after your evening eating window, intramuscular triglycerides are constantly being capped off and excess fat is being excreted as ketones. Once this process is over, because the IMTGs are full, the body is in a state of preferring fat-fuel, and will then use your body's own fat stores at a MUCH higher rate than if you put carbs in. You will lose a bit more glycogen without putting fat in again, but this is not severe and is easily compensated with the evening's protein and veggie consumption.

GETTING YOUR FLUSHING FLUIDS: During your fast drink a lot of water and that means all the water you drink is on an empty stomach which is the best time to drink water. You will also clean out your colon much more efficiently and a clean colon is essential for ideal health.

The amount of caffeine most people consume regularly drains their adrenal glands which will do a great number on their overall energy. It most cases it takes a good 6-9 months of being clean from stimulating drugs(caffeine is one of them) before the adrenals are completely replenished. If you began the detox process, through proper nutrition and diet, you will feel the positive effects inside of a few days to a week. Then one could rely on one's own energy stores instead of seeking external unhealthy alternatives such as coffee, power drinks, etc.

FEEL YOUR FOOD: If you ever need to eat during the day as you slowly acclimate your body to an Intermediate Fasting lifestyle you want to do so with very minimal insulin spikes. Honestly there are some days where I too need something during the day too, but most days I go until the evening before eating anything food wise. This is NOT what I recommend the beginning faster to do. Your body will not accept this as it is accustomed to hourly rising blood sugars. So a slower transition is highly recommended for adaptation to the lifestyle fasting habits and benefits.

Regularly eat better absorbing fat that's more alkaline instead of acidic (ex. steer clear of animal fats & dairy foods). I recommend 80% or higher dark chocolate, avocados, raw nuts such as almonds, pecans, and walnuts, a tablespoon of unrefined organic coconut oil at anytime of the day makes you feel A LOT, and I'm talking A LLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOT, of energy. It's a medium chain fatty acid that acts like a carb when consumed; however never gets stored, but in fact used as energy as well as assists in releasing some stored fat along with it.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON INTERMEDIATE FASTING: Don't do this overnight. Take your time and progress into this lifestyle over a 30-90 day period.  When fasting it's VERY important not to simply eat a meal in a sitting and then just munch a bit. You must truly stagger your meal so you're eating over the course of a 2-4 hour period in the evening. The evening is best so that your body can use your food as fuel rather than fat storage AS LONG AS you are consuming the right sorts of foods.  No matter what time of day you eat crappy foods you are going to having your body react in a negative way (fat storage, low energy, hormones unbalanced, mental alertness suffers, etc) Enjoy your food. Enjoy your meal. That means you don't have to sit down and scarf everything in one sitting, of course you can do that, but I find it better to eat here and there over 2-4 hours. I typically begin eating around 5 or 6 and then keep going throughout the night. BUT remember, I am eating the right foods in the right combinations.  Keep it simple.

Which Body Is Best For Health AND Performance?

"The ideal cardio program would be just long enough to 'spark' your metabolism for that important post-exercise fat "burn" but not so long that it begins to eat away at your hard earned muscle!"

-David Kennedy

Would you rather look AND function like a sprinter or marathon runner? I believe in the above picture it answers that question for most.

Interval training is great and requires a lot less time than typical conventional cardio which is very inefficient to blast fat as well as time wasting. The goal for interval training is quite simple and that is the same as those folks who practice conventional cardio: Blast Fat and Increase Cardio Conditioning.

I don't endorse running as a part of a normal fitness program unless it's something that you really enjoy or use for recovery such as 15-20 minutes on your "off" resistance training days.  Most people don't enjoy running and/or just shouldn't do it and that's why they come to Synergy Kettlebell Training.  I personally don't believe running is that effective or efficient in terms of building fitness and burning calories. If running is your thing, cool. No prob. But Synergy Kettlebell Training is the alternative to running, MUCH more effective in terms of total calories burned minute for minute during exercise, post exercise oxygen consumption(which is the continuation of caloric burning up to 48 hours post workout), maintaining an anabolic state (state for muscle building and recovery - the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism is and less fat you will have), and creating positive changes in your overall body composition.

If you are going to "run" on your off days I recommend a much more efficient approach that won't have you wasting countless hours, pairs of shoes, and sweat buckets beating the pavement with shocks to your joints all over town. The protocols are quite simple so I won't spend too much fluff time telling you about it. Choose your exercise whether it be the elliptical cross-trainer, treadmill, stairmaster, street running, hill running, etc.

You do NOT exceed 20 minutes-which is considered a perfect amount of time for intervals because the intensity will be very high. 3-5 times a week max! If you enjoy just going out and running by all means continue to do that, but in order to efficiently and consistently fat blast and increase your cardio conditioning you must, must, must perform high intensity type cardio.

Your goal is NOT to burn a specific amount of calories because more than double what the machine's read-out will say would have been used.

Your goal IS to keep your intensity as high as possible. This will bring your cardiovascular conditioning to levels you never thought possible as well as peak your metabolic rate- essentially expending a greater number of calories while at rest (which is what you do most of the time). Short blasts of high intensity cardio snaps the trainee out of the adaptive "steady state" the body wisely seeks to conserve energy (calories) when practicing the same pace, low intensity, long duration protocol of ordinary aerobics. Cardiovascular conditioning is achieved much sooner according to studying physicians.

When it comes to the heart rate question— whether to stay lower or higher — this is your answer. At a lower % of max heart rate (65%), a larger percentage of calories burned come from fat than at a higher heart rate (75-85%). HOWEVER, despite the percentages, you will burn more total calories and therefore more total fat calories at a higher heart rate.

The key to developing the cardiovascular system without an unacceptable loss of strength, speed, and power is interval training. Interval training mixes bouts of work and rest in timed intervals.

Train as mentioned in the below routines and achieve a great, great feeling and looking body. Pick any of the 3 below each time you train and you can do the same one more than once per week if you would like.

Additionally to this you will need to perform regular strength training exercise or you will not build muscle. If you weight train you will increase your metabolism for up to 38 hours post training which continually burns calories all day long- not just while you're exercising. That's great news isnt it!!!

Examples of Typical Interval Workouts:

-The following options are merely that- options as you can perform many others. Please perform all exercise with caution and with the understanding that you do so at your own risk.

By the way if you get finished with these and still think you should do some conventional cardio afterward, you did NOT go hard enough during your intervals.

Level 1:

Time Involved: 20 minute intervals(1 minute slow and 1 minute fast for a total of 20 min.)

Machine: Treadmill(preferred), stair stepper, elliptical

Setup: Incline can be used as much as a resistance as increasing the speed can.

Process: You want to get your heart rate up as high as it takes so that you cannot speak without difficulty. Use the "No Talk Rule". If you can't talk you're doing it right. IF you can go faster. Now during your slow minute you bring your heart rate back down to a manageable pace so that you can recovery in order to complete your next fast minute.

-Remember this is for 1 minute slow and 1 minute fast for a total of 20 min.

Level 2:

Time Involved: 10 min.

Machine: StepMill (escalator like) or any StairMaster

Setup: This is primarily for the Stepmill. Slow min. at 6/ Fast min. at 12 -OR- Slow at 8 & Fast at 16. Level 3:

My favorite(I do this a couple times a week and that's all the cardio I do).

Guerrilla or Tabata Sprints

Time Involved: 12 minutes total effort (20 seconds working/ 10 seconds resting)

Machine or Method: On treadmill, stairs or outdoor streets

The working period is a all-out/non-stop sprint followed by the rest period which is a non-working rest. The rest is you actually standing in place, not moving and catching your breath for the quick 10 seconds.


Minutes 1-4:

Warm-up @ 50% of perceived maximum sprint effort followed by:

Minute 5:

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Minute 6:

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Minute 7:

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Minute 8:

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Sprinting for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds

Minutes 9-12:

Cool-down @ 50% of perceived maximum sprint effort (same as warm-up)


Incline Intervals

Frequency: 3-5x per week

Length of training session: 20-30 min.

Style of training: Intervals

Protocol: Consistent speed and changing incline.

Every 3 min. raise incline to 10-15%.

For example: The first 2 min. will be at a 0% incline and speed of at least 3.0- 10mph.

The 3rd minute will have the incline raised to 10-15% for the entire minute. The 4th and 5th minute will have the incline at 0% and speed stays consistent. Continue this protocol for the remainder of the 20-30 minutes training session.

Should you have any questions or need a demonstration for these exercises please consult a fitness professional such as myself. This cardio program is part of an overall conditioning program.

Remember that: This is an intense workout, but it takes hard work in order to achieve the best results.

Have Fun and Be Creative!

Activities Will Keep You Ageless

There are a lot of folks who believe they need to wait to exercise and be active until they can't stand what they look like in the mirror or when they get old enough to where their body doesn't work the way they would like it to work.  There are even some folks that believe that they are too old to workout and be intensely active.  I say RUBBISH to those thoughts!!!  It is never too late to be active in some capacity.  It is what you do that matters for you.

Ninety percent of the way you look and feel is based entirely on your eating habits and dietary lifestyle. The rest is then activity related. You can do everything right in your exercise routine, have not so great eating habits, and experience little to no results.

Cardio is the smallest portion of the equation. Many, many people focus on spending hours and hours and hours performing inefficient cardio routines.  One very productive way to produce very high results when being active while performing cardio is interval training.  While performing interval cardio your goal should not be to burn "X" amount of calories while training, but to get your heart rate as high as you can in bursts of highs and lows called intervals. The time can then be condensed to no more than 20 minutes as long as the intensity is high. Most of my clients cardio sessions are only 12-20 minutes long. It's the "afterburn" that you're after.

Normal cardio puts your body into a "steady state" where your heart rate is the same for 30-45+ minutes. You burn a decent amount of calories while performing the workout, and up to about an hour or two post while your body is recovering, but that's about it. The afterburn stops short.

By performing the high intensity intervals you will create an afterburn effect of a higher calorie burnage over a 24 hour period. That's being very productive!  Then as long as you have great eating habits and continue to be active during that 24 hour period you will keep that afterburn going strong in your favor.  The results couldn't come fast enough if you're being efficiently active.

The next piece of the equation is resistance training.  A lot of folks don't perform regular resistance activities and try to depend solely on cardio. You should never leave resistance training out of your regular activity.  This is actually more important than cardio activities.  Resistance training is an absolute necessity. It promotes muscle and keeps your body from losing muscle. The more muscle you have the higher metabolism is and that's a great, great thing!

There are many ways to be active and perform regular resistance activity in order to make it effective, efficient, and fun.  If you're smart about it you can even Kill Two Birds With One Stone by combining cardio and resistance together.  More to come on the specifics of that, but for now begin uping your overall activity intensity.  I encourage you to find a good Boot Camp for a workout you don't have to come up with on your own and rest assured it will definitely be intense enough for you.

As we age it doesn't mean we should be active even if our body isn't cooperating as we would like it. In fact it is very important for longevity to be active in some capacity on a daily basis.  Do what is enjoyable for you and do what works for you.  Some folks really enjoy resistance training while others more cardiovascular.  Other don't enjoy gym style work at all and want to play with Kettlebells and other odd objects such as sandbags, kegs, Indian Clubs, heavy stones, sleds, ungulate thick ropes, and more.  You can even be active by playing your favorite sports.  The point is to always be active every day in some way.

What seems to be common among super seniors is a life-long commitment to natural living based upon a healthy diet of only natural foods; exercise both cardiovascular and weight-bearing, and positive thinking alongside a strong spiritual life.

Some great examples are the people below.  If you are young looking at this pay attention and remember these faces and bodies.  Make a lifelong commitment to yourself to be like them. If you are grown understand that it is NEVER too late.  Start now if need be and work hard every day to be the best you that you can be!

Jack Lalanne 28 yrs old and 72 yrs old

Bob Delmontique Age 70's - 80's

45 yr old Colleen Fisher and her mother 75 yr old Kelly Nelson posing with Bob Delmonteque 

Kelly Nelson at ages 52 and 72.   Doesn't she look 20-30 yrs younger than her actual age?! Wow!!!


Frank Zane (former Mr. Olympia) 20's and Age 60's
Clarence Bass - Age 15 - 70