Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism is the amount of energy that your body needs each day to function and to complete physical activity. You get this energy from the food you eat.

Even when you’re not being physically active, your body is burning calories as it carries out functions such as regulating body temperature and keeping your organs working. This is your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and accounts for 60%-70% of the total calories you burn each day.

The following are the primary factors that affect your metabolic rate.

Genetics. In part, your metabolic rate is influenced by your genetic makeup.

Gender. In general, men have a higher metabolic rate than women – about 20% higher. This is mostly due to the fact that men tend to have higher level of muscle mass than women.

Age. Metabolism slows as you age. This is due, in part, to decreased physical activity level as well as loss of muscle mass.

Some factors are believed to increase or decrease your metabolic level; however, they have very small to no effects on your metabolic rate.

Increased exercise. While physical activity is important in maintaining health, you would have to exercise intensely and significantly increase your muscle mass to achieve even a small increase in metabolic rate. However, after a high-intensity workout your body may burn more calories for several hours afterwards.

Spicy foods. Eating spicy food may cause a very short-lived minimal increase in metabolic rate – but unfortunately it is not enough to make a difference when it comes to weight loss.

Eating more frequent meals. While eating more frequent meals may help control appetite leading to reduced and taken weight loss, it does not increase metabolic rate.

Crash dieting and fasting. Crash dieting and fasting may significantly slow down your metabolic rate temporarily; however, it will speed up again when you return to a normal diet.


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