How much do you know about your metabolism and its role in your body weight?
“I have a slow metabolism so it’s impossible to lose weight!”
“You’re so lucky to have a fast metabolism which keeps you slim”
Heard any of this or even said any of the phrases before? There are plenty of misconceptions about our metabolism especially with regards to its relationship to our body weight and how certain things can increase or decrease it. Here’re a few things to know about your metabolism.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom says that metabolism is the chemical processes inside a person that keeps them alive which includes breathing, cell repair and digestion. All of these processes require energy and the minimum amount of energy needed is known as basal metabolic rate (BMR). To put it simply, BMR is the rate at which a person burns energy in the form of calories while at rest.
Muscle cells need more energy to maintain compared to fat cells which means that a person with higher muscle to fat ratio usually have higher BMR. As we age, it is normal to gain more fat and lose muscles which explains why our BMR may decrease as we get older. Generally, men may have a faster metabolism due to having higher muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat compared to women. A person with higher BMR would then have a higher daily calorie allowance.
Having a fast or slow metabolism could be something you inherit as well due to our genes being connected to muscle size and ability to grow muscles.
We’ve heard it or even said it ourselves, where a ‘slow metabolism’ is blamed when struggling to lose weight. However, we don’t have to live with having a low BMR. Regular exercise ensures that you burn extra calories and you’ll build more muscles which increases your BMR. Instead of a ‘slow metabolism’ it’s probably because we’re not aware of how many calories we’re eating compared to the calories burned.
It must be said that crash diets may slow your metabolism because in some cases, because of calorie restrictions, our body has to break down muscle for energy. Less muscle mass means your BMR will be lower.
Another misconception is that certain food and drinks can boost your metabolism but there isn’t any hard evidence that will bring about more than a marginal change. Instead, you can control the amount of calories you burn and also consume.
The more active you are, the more calories you burn. If you burn more calories than you consume, this will lead to weight loss.
Varying your exercise regime is the best way to burn more calories. Cardiovascular exercises such as running, walking and swimming are a great way to burn calories. 30 minutes per session, five sessions a week is the recommended amount of physical activity for adults. If your goal is to lose weight, it’s best to incorporate more than 150 minutes a week and change your diet to achieve this.
Strength training exercises such as lifting weights and high intensity exercise which work all major muscle groups is a great way to increase your muscle mass. It must be said that strength training will not make you a bodybuilder unless you do it extremely vigorously and supplement your diet with protein powders. Remember, muscles burn more calories than fat tissue so increasing the amount of muscles you have increases the amount of calories you burn.
All in all, do not be disheartened if you feel like you have a slow metabolism. There are ways around it such as exercise and modification to your diet. There are certain medical conditions which could cause you to burn less calories than you normally should and if you suspect anything amiss, do check with a doctor to ensure that you’re healthy. If you have any pre-existing conditions, always speak with your medical practitioner before starting a new diet or exercise regime to make sure that it is safe for you.