What is Metabolism?
From the viewpoint of diet and weight loss, metabolism is the process whereby the body converts food into energy (or uses it for bodily repairs) or stores it as fat for future use. In simple terms, if we have a faster metabolism we burn calories more efficiently and store less fat. If we have a slower metabolism we burn calories less efficiently and therefore store more calories as fat.
In very simple terms, our Metabolic Rate is the rate (and efficiency) with which our body performs these metabolic tasks.
Metabolic Needs and Calorie Usage
Our Basal Metabolic Rate (or Resting Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories we need to burn in order to fuel essential bodily processes and keep our organs and tissues in working order. Typically, this accounts for 60 per cent of all calories consumed. The heavier the person, the more calories he/she needs to fuel these essential processes.
All other calories are used to meet our additional energy needs based on our level of physical activity.
What Determines Our Metabolic Rate
Several things determine our metabolic rate, including:
- Our Genes
Some people have a naturally faster metabolism
- Our Age
As we age, our calorie needs decrease. On average it drops 2 per cent each decade.
- Our Muscle-to-Fat Ratio
Muscle cells are about 8 times more metabolically demanding than fat cells. So the greater the our proportion of muscle to fat, the faster our metabolic rate.
- Our Activity Level
Exercise burns calories. Even after we stop exercising, the effect continues. So we burn calories at a faster rate for several hours afterwards.
- How Often We Eat
Our metabolic rate increases during digestion of food, a process known as the Thermal Effect of food. In simple terms, if we go too long without food (5 hours for men; 3 hours for women), our body thinks there is a food shortage and our metabolism tends to slow down.
- Our Health & Nutrition
Metabolism is governed by thousands of separate chemical reactions. To perform this process efficiently, our body needs a constant supply of nutrients. Without these nutrients (like vitamins and minerals, esp. vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 & vitamin C) metabolism can become inefficient and sluggish. The best way to ensure good dietary nutrition is to follow a balanced diet.
Fat-burners, Pills & Supplements
Do pills or supplements help to speed up metabolism and weight loss? The answer is No. There are many so-called ‘fat-burning’ pills and supplements on offer, which claim to speed up metabolism and weight loss. Be warned! This method of raising your metabolism is not considered safe. Nor has it been proved to assist long term weight loss.
How to Raise Metabolism – 4 Practical Conclusions
1. Take regular exercise
This should be aerobic exercise that makes you breathe more heavily. Exercises that build muscle are also useful.
2. Eat Breakfast and Eat Regularly
To benefit from the Thermal Effect of food and ensure that your body burns calories willingly, eat breakfast and then eat regularly throughout the day.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
This helps to maintain a good supply of nutrients which in turn keeps your metabolism working smoothly. Weight Loss Diet is a good choice.
4. Avoid Pills
For the sake of your health and weight, avoid all supplements that claim to offer fat-burning and weight loss benefits.
Metabolism – The Bottom Line
The only safe and effective way to raise your metabolism is to take more exercise. The harder you work, the faster your metabolic rate.
How to Raise Your Metabolism
The healthy way to raise your metabolism is to increase your exercise. Avoid fat burners, pills or fat burning supplements – exercise is still the only effective way to raise your basal/resting metabolic rate. Exercise also raises your muscle-fat ratio and because muscle is more metabolically active (i.e. it needs more calories to sustain it) than fat, you also lose weight.
Exercise and Weight Loss
Let’s say you eat 2 cups caramel-coated popcorn (approx 310 calories).
- If you jump rope, you can burn off all these calories in about 28 minutes.
- If you walk at 3mph, you can burn off these calories in about 62 minutes.
- In addition, exercise helps to raise your metabolic rate, which makes it easier to lose weight.
- Finally, exercise also helps you to lose weight by boosting your motivation to stick to your weight loss program.
Note: all calorie-burn figures are approximate. They are based on a 150 pound woman. If you weigh more, you’ll burn more calories. If you weigh less, you’ll burn less calories.