Metabolism: Whats the magic number?

So what does Metabolism really mean?

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Metabolism constitutes all the chemical processes within cells that together sustain life. But its most often spoken about in the context of food and how our body processes food. People love talking about their Metabolism. Often blaming it for a lot more than it deserves. But most of these discussions are in the abstract. What if we told you that there is a specific number that allows us to talk and work on our Metabolism in more concrete ways.

Enter BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate as health junkies everywhere know it. Your BMR is the minimum amount of energy your body needs while at rest. In a nutshell, BMR gives you the amount of calories you require through all the things that go into keeping you alive – breathing, blood circulation, body temperature control, cell growth, brain function, and contraction of muscles. Just these activities account for over 60-70% of the day’s calorie needs. The higher your BMR, the more calories you burn on a daily basis (by just living!). 

Factoid : Did you know your body is burning around 1.1 calorie/min even while you are reading this!

What determines your BMR?

Men have a naturally higher BMR than women (probably misleading generations of men into thinking they are fitter!). After the age of 30, BMR falls by about 2-5% every decade. This explains all the ‘Dad Bod’ talk these days! Evolutionary hacks developed by our body mean that our BMR gets a boost during winters, so we can do less with more. This is probably why grandmothers have always advised adding butter, ghee and lots of nuts to your diet during winters! When you fall sick, with every degree of rise in body temperature, your BMR increases by 7%, exactly why you reduce those pounds during illnesses.

Body composition also influences BMR. People with higher fat mass are low on their calorie utilising capacity (i.e. lower BMR’s). Exercise! Work those muscles like there’s no tomorrow! Living a predominantly sedentary existence decreases your BMR. Years of obesity can lead to serious Hormonal disorders, diabetes and heart disease. 

The first step in figuring out how you want to treat your body and understand your food intake is to calculate your BMR.

We’ll do it for you. Click here to give us your stats, for a calculation of your BMR.

So how do I boost my BMR?

Its simple:

1. Eat smaller and frequent meals i.e. – healthy snacking is good for you!

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Snacking between meals is a wonderful way to ensure that you don’t overdo things during mealtimes. But snack wisely. Not all snacks are equal. Find fruits, nuts, vegetables and other foods rich in nutrients! superbites superbars, granolas and roasted nut mixes are excellent snacks between meals.

2. Eat from all the food groups – Carbs, Fats, Proteins and Micronutrients

Chose foods that make sure you’re eating from all the food groups in a balanced way. Do not completely cut out fats from your diet. Fats are critical in numerous functions of the body and unsaturated fats are wonderful addition in the form of Nuts, Seeds, Oily Fish and Avocado.

3. Exercise, Move and Get Active

Exercise hard! Work those muscles, not only to burn calories but also o-EMPLOYEE-EXERCISE-facebook.jpgto build up and maintain lean tissue. The World Health Organisation recommends 3-4 hours of exercise every/week is recommended globally by World Health Organisation. Adequate sleep is also an absolute must. At least 6-7 hours of sleep at a stretch gives your muscles sufficient ‘repair time’. This is that time of the year when your metabolism is at its peak (thank the cold weather!).

4. Sleep well

Poor sleeping habits can really hurt how our body breaks down food. Sleep deprived people have a very hard time metabolising carbohydrates effectively. So get yourself 6-7 hours of restful sleep to allow the body to repair itself of damages during wakefulness and to break down those foods.

Apart of these, remember that Proteins are central to lots of body functions. But they’re also great at helping you burn calories. Nutritionists recommend 1 – 1.2 g of Protein per Kilogram of Body weight to maintain existing muscle mass. Protein intake is especially helpful in healing muscle wear and tear from your intense workouts and physical activities. A diet rich in the right kind of lean proteins leads to a lean body mass, which in turn gives us a calorie burning a boost. Thus boosting your BMR! Vegetarians, take note. You need protein intake to keep your metabolism in a healthy balance. Vegetarians can get their protein from nuts, dairy, soy and legumes. 

In summary, Eat Wisely and Frequently.Exercise. Be Active. Sleep. Repeat.

Click here to give us a few of your stats and we’ll give you your BMR.

And you can get started on a rewarding journey to better understand your body and its adventures with food!

Further Reading

eat.delete by Pooja Makhija is an excellent primer on BMR and how to manage it

Metabolism – Wikipedia Entry

Sleep and Metabolism – Wikipedia Entry

superbites BMR Calculation Page

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What can Brown do for you? – Lessons from Maillard Browning and Caramelization

At superbites, we are crazy about all things nuts. And we’re total suckers when you add science to the mix. We have often been asked, ‘Why roast nuts?’. Well, there are two reasons for that: (1) Roasted nuts taste brilliant; and (2) Roasting makes nuts even more nutritious!

‘Lets Science the shit out of this!’

Nuts are loaded with phytochemicals that are absolutely great for you. But research suggests that the human body can only access these nutrients if their carriers (nuts in this case) are roasted. Roasted nuts aren’t just delicious, they are also digested a lot more easily. Roasting turns all the phytochemicals into a form that is easier to absorb and process. In other words, roasting makes the best nutrients in nuts bioavailable.

Food geeks will yell out in unison that we are ignoring the contribution of the ‘Maillard Reaction’ – a browning of foods that unlocks both flavours and nutrients. Frenchman Louis-Camille Maillard first observed this browning in cooked foods and wrote about it in 1913. As always, the French know their food!top_chef_masters_maillard_reaction

Years of subsequent research by other scientists confirmed that the browning was caused when the Amino Acids in foods react with sugars at temperatures around 154°C. This reaction unlocks hundreds of new compounds which bring amazing new flavors to the food. Depending on the amino acid makeup of foods, a distinctive set of flavor compounds are formed during the Maillard reaction. This browning is seen in a whole range of foods like fried nuts, onions, breads, roasted coffee, steaks and meats.

In nuts Maillard browning is a quite a delicate process. Go Nuts - Like a Cavemantoo high with roasting temperature, and you risk killing off the best nutrients and overdoing the nuts. At superbites, we slow roast nuts in small batches, and make sure they’re super-crunchy and nutritious! We cook up cashews, almonds and pistachios in plain, salted, sweetened and spiced varieties. Even cavemen knew they were making the right choice!

What’s Caramelization? Isn’t that the same as Maillard Browning?

Caramelization is quite different from Maillard Browning. True, at first sight, they seem similar to both our eyes and taste buds. But Maillard Browning is caused by the breakdown of amino acids in tandem with sugars.

Caramelization on the other hard, is merely the browning of sugars when they are broken down. When exposed to heat, sugars brown starting 160°C and then melt past 180°C. With every degree of temperature increase, the color of this syrup changes from a light yellow and gets closer to a deep brown. Now for the cool part; along with the color change, the taste evolves as the syrup turns into a rich, complex and aromatic form.

Now typically we associate caramelisation with that delicious gooey brown sauce that we pour over our triple scoop ice cream sundae. But lots of other interesting foods are a result of these browning phenomenon.Sesame-Roasted-Carrots

Here’s an interesting fact: Carrots are the cool kids on the block. They undergo the Maillard Reaction and then caramelize as the heat’s turned up further! (Waits for you to gather your mind which has just been blown away.) At first, the inherent amino acids in carrots break up on heating, explaining the Maillard reaction. Carrots have very high glucose, sucrose and fructose content. At higher temperatures, these sugars caramelize. Don’t be embarrassed to show off this bit of food wisdom the next time you’re at a dinner party!

Why are we at superbites talking about Maillard Browning and Caramelization? Because our Candied Cinnamon Almonds see both phenomena. Order your jar today to taste two wonders of science in one awesome snack!

Pick up a trail mix or our delicious candied cinnamon almonds or one of many kinds in our nut catalog and munch away!

Love,

Gilly

Further Reading

Maillard Reaction – Wikipedia Entry

Frying, Boiling and the Maillard Reaction – Science Fare

Even our Naked Ancestors loved Nuts! – superbites blog

What Caramelization? – Science of Cooking