This week’s Fitness Post is brought to you by personal trainer Igor Klibanov from Fitness Solutions Plus.

Everyone wants a fast metabolism, and for good reason. A fast metabolism gives you lots of energy, and the ability to eat “bad” foods without paying the price (immediately, anyway).

But let me correct you. You don’t want a super-fast metabolism. You want an optimal metabolism. There is such a thing as too fast, and if your metabolism is too fast, yes, you burn fat, but you also burn muscle (or have a very hard time building muscle) and bone. Not ideal effects.

Another half myth is that your metabolism slows down as you age. I say “half myth” because people seriously overestimate how much their metabolism slows down as they age. If you’re 50 years old and have more fat than you did at 20 is it because you’re 30 years older? Or is it because when you were 20, you used to play basketball 2 hours a day? Or think back to when you were 10 years old. Do you have more fat now than you did back then because you’re older or because you used to play tag during recess?

Sure, there’s no question that metabolism slows down as you age, but the amount that it slows down due to aging is much smaller than you think. That’s both good and bad news. The good news is that your metabolism is almost completely within your control. The bad news is that now you can’t use age as an excuse for the excess body fat you’re carrying.

But anyways, that’s just a bit of a rant.

How do you speed up your metabolism?

To answer that question, let’s look at what makes up your resting metabolic rate (RMR). There are 3 factors:

1.      Thermic effect of feeding. This is basically how many calories you burn just digesting the food that you ate. With fat, you use up 2-3% of the calories you ate to digest and assimilate it. With carbohydrates, you use 5-10% of the calories you ate to digest and assimilate it. With protein, you use 25-30% of the calories you ate to digest and assimilate it.

2.       Physical activity. This can be divided into:

a.       Exercise
b.      Non-exercise physical activity (NEPA).

It’s in the physical activity department where the greatest potential lies in speeding up your metabolism. With exercise, if you are able to put on lean body mass, you will speed up your metabolism. Muscle speeds up your metabolism. And healthy organs speed up your metabolism even more. Remember, the term “lean body mass” doesn’t just mean muscle. It means everything that isn’t fat. That includes your brain, your skin, your liver, your digestive and reproductive organs, etc. By having well-functioning internal organs, your metabolism will naturally speed up (if it’s slow).

NEPA is an interesting one, because there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that the difference between the naturally thin person and the person struggling. NEPA, as the name implies is everything that isn’t exercise. It’s the fidgeting, chewing the food more, walking around more, tapping your pen/pencil, etc.

Naturally thin people burn as much as 900 calories per day through NEPA alone!

That’s great news for you if you have body fat you’d like to lose. Much of it is within your control.

Short Summary

Metabolism consists of 3 factors:

  • Thermic effect of food
  • Exercise
    • Perform muscle-building exercise to speed up your metabolism.
  • Non-exercise physical activity (NEPA)
    • This may be one of the key differences between naturally thin people and people struggling.
    • NEPA can add up to as much as 900 calories per day!

We love what our friends at Toronto EMS are doing with the Toronto Raptors to promote CPR Awareness!

Here’s a fun video they put together.

Remember, if you’re not comfortable giving a stranger mouth to mouth, Hands Only CPR can still save a life.

Shoveling Snow and the Risk for Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac ArrestToday, much of the northeast is being blanketed by snow. We’re certainly getting our share here in Toronto. So we though it would be a good day to talk about how cold weather snow shoveling can increase the risk of  heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.  More importantly, how you can protect your heart and reduce that risk.

Let’s face it- shoveling snow or even just walking in the snow, is strenuous activity.  Sometimes people with heart problems, who would never consider lifting weights or running a 5K, forget that when the white fluffy menace blankets their driveway.

P.J. Skerrett, Managing Editor, Harvard Health writes,

“Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Emergency rooms in the snowbelt gear up for extra cases when enough of the white stuff has fallen to force folks out of their homes armed with shovels or snow blowers.

What’s the connection? Many people who shovel snow rarely exercise. Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart. Pushing a heavy snow blower can do the same thing. Cold weather is another contributor because it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart, and make blood more likely to form clots.”

You can read his entire article here.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you pick up that snow shovel.

The MetroHealth Heart & Vascular Center, offers this great advice:

Before You Shovel Snow

  • Talk to your doctor before you take on this task of snow shoveling.
  • Avoid shoveling immediately after you awaken as most heart attacks occur early in the morning when blood is more prone to clotting. Wait for at least 30 minutes and warm up.
  • Do not eat heavy meal before shoveling: blood gets diverted form the heart to the stomach.
  • Warm up your muscles before starting by walking for a few minutes or marching in place.
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling or during breaks. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.

While Shoveling Snow

  • Use a small shovel: shovel many small loads instead of heavy ones.
  • Begin slowly and take frequent, 15 minute breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Dress in layers, to avoid hypothermia (low body temperature) or overheating.
  • Cover your head and neck (50% body heat lost thru head and neck).
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems.
  • Watch for warning signs of a heart attack, lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you think you are having a heart attack call 911.

So how do you know if you’re at risk from shovelling?

In this CTV News article, The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that if you have ever had a heart attack, stroke, or heart surgery, it might be best to call someone to do the shoveling for you. If you want to do it yourself, speak to your doctor about the risks first.

The same applies if you currently have uncontrolled high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are obese, smoke, or are overweight or have an inactive lifestyle.

The warning signs of a heart attack include:

  • pressure in your chest
  • pain radiating down one arm
  • shortness of breath or dizziness
  • profuse sweating
  • intense nausea

So stay safe, stay warm, and if you’re at risk for heart problems, leave the snow where it is. Spring is right around the corner, right?

Photo by gautamnguitar on Flickr



2012 Mikey Network Award recipients at Ryerson School of Nutrition

Rena Mendelson with 2012 Mikey Network Award recipients Pascalyn Annoh and Teresa Chiu

Congratulations to Pascalyn Annoh and Teresa Chiu, the 2012 Mikey Network Awards recipients at  Ryerson University School of Nutrition.

The awards were presented at the 2012 School of Nutrition Awards Ceremony on  Thursday, November 15th 2012.  The Mikey Network Awards are presented annually to students in the Nutrition and Food program and were established by The Mikey Network to provide financial assistance and recognize academic excellence and a commitment to the promotion of nutrition to prevent chronic heart diseases.

This Save-A-Life Simulator is part of the The HeartRescue Project and it is so amazing we just had to share it.Heart Rescue Project

It walks you through a situation where someone is suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).  As it tests your knowledge, it simultaneously teaches you what to do if you find yourself in the position of helping someone suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.

Please take the time to go through the simulator.  It is very well done, and it’s also a lot of fun!


The HeartRescue Project, funded by the Medtronic Foundation, is dedicated to improving how sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is recognized, treated and measured.