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Why am I not losing weight? My metabolism is just slow! Sounds familiar? Well, every time you blame your body’s metabolism for your weight problems, you are actually missing an opportunity. You could be actually using it to your advantage to get your dream body!
We all know someone who eats a lot yet seems to be losing weight. Then there are those poor souls who seem to be gaining weight for every morsel of food they eat. This vast difference is because of how differently the body’s metabolism functions and consequently affects the number of calories you burn and the body fat you retain.
Metabolism is a term used for a series of biochemical processes in your body which maintain the functioning of everyday bodily systems from breathing to digestion.These processes require energy to function efficiently and this necessary energy comes from calories in your food.
So, why do you need to know this? Understanding your body’s metabolism is the foolproof way to lose weight and get the body you want!
What is Metabolic Rate?
The metabolic rate is the rate at which our body burns calories to produce energy for the various metabolic processes. Certain factors affecting this include:
1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
BMR is the number of calories burned to run bodily functions like breathing and blood circulation, while the body is at rest. This is the most important determinant and accounts for 60% to 75% of an individual’s daily calorie expenditure.
- Genetics: Your genes probably have the most influence on your basal metabolic rate.
- Body Size: The weight, height, and surface area determine the size of the body and are directly proportionate to the metabolic rate of the body
- Body Composition: The higher the lean muscle mass, the faster the metabolic rate.
- Gender: Men tend to have a faster metabolism rate as they tend to have more muscle mass than women of similar size.
- Age: As you get older, the metabolism slows down because the amount of physical activity and lean muscle mass decreases.
- Sleep: The amount of sleep you get affects the body’s ability to metabolise your sugar/glucose. So, when you don’t get enough sleep your body’s metabolism slows down
- Health: conditions like injuries, fever, etc can double the basal metabolic rate
2. Thermic Effect of Food
The thermic effect of food is the amount of energy used by the body to digest and absorb nutrients from the food you consume. This factor generally uses a total of 5-10% of your calorie intake. However, there’s more to the thermic effect of food:
- Meal Size: If you consume more nutrients in one go, then your body expends more energy processing them, therefore increasing the thermic effect of food.
- Meal Composition: The composition of the meal (macronutrients like carbohydrates, fat and protein) has a direct effect on thermic effect of food. 25% calories of Protein consumed are burned due to the thermic effect of the food, while only 5% calories of fat or carbs consumed is burned due to the thermic effect of food. Therefore, even if you have the same amount of calories, you’ll burn calories when you eat protein-rich food as compared to high-carb or high-fat food.
- Body Composition: Your body fat percentage is inversely proportionate tot he thermic effect of food.
- Consistency in Meal Pattern: A consistency in the meal pattern (same number of meals every day at the same time) helps increase the thermic effect of food.
3. Physical Activity
The amount of daily physical activity you indulge in also determines the metabolic rate. The higher the amount of physical activity, the higher the number of calories burned. The type of physical activity too, helps in determining the increase in metabolic rate in the long run. For e.g.: Building muscle via weight training helps increase BMR over a period of time as compared to only cardio as a physical activity.
Metabolism and the Link to Weight Loss
Here comes the interesting part about metabolism. Now we all know people who blame their slow metabolism for their lack of weight loss. However, unless you have a medical condition like Cushing’s syndrome, metabolism can be easily managed to manage weight. The body stores fat as an efficient way to burn energy and therefore, the basic principle for weight loss remains the same regardless of your metabolism rate. Consume lesser calories than you burn for weight loss and vice versa for weight gain. However, you can make your weight loss program more effective by working to boost your metabolism to burn fat faster. Once you understand the type of metabolism you have, you’ll be able to better understand how to boost your metabolism if you want to lose weight.
Is Your Metabolism Fast or Slow?
Check the signs below for each type of metabolism to understand what type of a metabolism you have.
Myths About Metabolism
You’ll often see advertisers promote products with claims that the product will boost your metabolism. However, the effectiveness of these products could be questionable. Similarly, there are quite a few misconceptions about metabolism that are propagated by the power of the Internet. Bust some myths about metabolism and know the difference right here.
Myth 1: Metabolic Rate is Genetic and Can’t Be Changed
This myth is partly false. While your basal metabolic rate is based on your genes, it can be changed through physical exercises to build muscle and you can prevent it from further slowing down with a healthy diet to support muscle gain.
Myth 2: Metabolism is the Same for Men or Women
This is completely false. Men tend to have a higher amount of muscle mass as compared to women of the same size. Additionally, age plays a factor as well, when determining metabolism, so two people of different ages, regardless of gender, will also have different metabolic rates.
Myth 3: Hot Peppers and Green Tea Will Speed Up Your Metabolism
Unfortunately, false. While green tea is said to help boost metabolism temporarily, it doesn’t have an effect on the metabolic rate in the long run. However, green tea has other benefits that help aid weight loss even if they don’t directly affect metabolism. Similarly, hot peppers and spicy food are said to boost metabolism by generating heat, but this boost is a spike and not a permanent change.
Myth 4: Eating One Big Meal Per Day Will Boost Metabolism
High-calorie meals might require more energy to process but skipping meals and then indulging in one big meal may be counterproductive. This is because when you take big gaps between meals (in order to eat just one big meal, your body goes into ‘starvation mode’. As a result, it converts most of your ‘big meal’ into stored fat, in anticipation of another ‘starvation period’ till the next meal. An ideal way to go about this is to have a higher number of smaller meals at regular intervals. This will not only help boost metabolism but also curb your cravings and keep the body consistently nourished.
How to Boost Metabolism to Burn Fat?
While a major factor that determines your metabolism rate is genetics, you can work with your metabolism to burn fat and lose weight. However, there’s no easy way to lose weight. Losing weight and maintaining your goal weight requires a disciplined lifestyle which has a balance of physical activity and a healthy diet. Certain things to keep in mind that will help you boost your metabolism to burn fat include:
1. Eat Protein With Every Meal
As mentioned earlier, 25% calories of protein consumed are burned due to the thermic effect of the food. Therefore, you burn a higher amount of calories than you would if you had high-carb/ high-fat foods. High protein foods include tofu, whey, salmon, etc.
2. Dairy is a Necessity
Low calcium can slow down metabolism and a recent study suggests that having dairy products helps reduce fat absorption by the body – thus aiding weight loss.
3. Get Some Omega 3s
According to a recent research, fish oils with Omega 3s help increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation. Get your share of Omega 3s regularly for a host of benefits in addition to a fast metabolism through a range of cold water fish.
4. Drink Lots of Water
According to a study conducted at the University of Utah, drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day can be effective to promote a fast metabolism.
5. Get Tons of Sleep
In a study published in the journal Lancet, sleep debt (sleeping just 4-6 hours a night) not only has a harmful impact on carbohydrate metabolism but also may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders. About 8 hours of sleep will keep your metabolism at a healthy pace.
6. Workout to Gain Muscle Weight
Muscle, as mentioned earlier, uses more energy to maintain and according to the National Health Service, those with a higher muscle to fat ratio tend to have a higher Basal Metabolic Rate
These measures will not only boost your metabolism but also help you maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long run. Understanding metabolism just reaffirms what we already knew to maintain a healthy weight. It’s time to take this knowledge and turn it into action – all the best!