Understanding How Metabolism Works

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Whether you’re a fitness buff or you’ve been dieting your whole life, you’re probably familiar with the concept of metabolism. But can you really understand how the process works and how it can affect your weight loss program? It’s easy to blame your slow metabolism for your failed attempts at slimming down. Try understanding what metabolism is all about and learn how to use it in your favor!

Here’s a shocker, our metabolic rate has nothing to do with our body weight and energy level. It’s widely accepted that in order to lose weight, you have to burn off more energy than you take in. And burning calories can happen through physical exercises as well as while we’re at rest through the energy it takes to process the food we eat.

What is Metabolic Rate?

Also referred to as resting metabolic rate, metabolism is defined as the amount of calories needed by the body to work properly. Specifically, metabolism energizes the brain, the beating of the heart, and involuntary breathing. Our metabolic rate account is responsible for 60 to 70 percent of our daily energy expenditure. Professional athletes typically have higher resting metabolic rate than average people because they have more muscle mass rather than fat mass.

When Metabolic Rate Slows Down

At some point, our metabolic rate will start to slow down. Aging and gender are two factors that influence our metabolic rate. Children and teenagers have faster metabolism because rapid growth demands more energy. Once we reach our maximum growth then the metabolic rate starts to decline. This is because as we grow older, we start losing our muscle mass. And because women have higher body fat than men, it’s especially hard for aging women to lose weight because of their slow metabolism.

Hormonal problems, living in tropical countries, and even certain traumas or illnesses could affect the speed of your metabolic rate. For example, if you live in a tropical country, your metabolic rate could be 5% to 20% faster than those who live in places with cold climates. Thyroid problems could also affect your metabolic rate. Hyperthyroidism increases the metabolic rate while hypothyroidism slows it down.

Weight Loss and Metabolic Rate

In order to lose weight, you need to achieve a balance between nutrition and exercise. When you eat foods with few calories, the body starts to break down protein tissues to get the energy it needs to work properly. This means you start losing muscle mass — and if we don’t have enough muscles, the metabolic rate slows down.

So what do you do? You want to make sure you’re eating just the right amount of food to burn off during the day so you don’t lose your muscle mass. It also helps to do strength training twice or four times per week to offset the decline of your metabolism.

In addition, try to be realistic with your weight goal. After you reach your desired result, stop dieting! This triggers the brain to kick the metabolism into its normal rate.

Finally, do not try to struggle with your metabolic rate. Instead, learn to work with it and use the right exercise program and diet to complement your metabolism.