Weight Loss and Your Metabolism

It’s a common misconception that speeding up your metabolism will help you increase your weight loss. Unfortunately, although metabolic rate is related to weight, the reality is a little more complicated.

What is your metabolism?

Your metabolism is the way your body uses energy. Through a series of biochemical processes, your body converts the food you eat into fuel to power your body. When people talk about having a slow metabolism, they’re usually referring to what’s called the ‘resting metabolism’, which is the number of calories your body needs you to eat, in order to keep itself functioning.

Your resting metabolism is mostly predetermined and is influenced by a number of factors, including your age, gender and general health. The number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions is pretty well set.

When people speak about increasing their metabolism, or metabolic rate, what they’re really referring to is increasing the activity of the ‘energy metabolism’, which is the actual process of breaking down nutrients and converting them into energy.

The confusion comes, perhaps, because the word ‘metabolism’ is used to describe both the amount of energy the body needs for basic functions and the process itself of converting food into that energy. Your body’s basic functions will account for about 60-70% of the calories you’ll burn in a day. Even though it’s not possible to make big changes to your resting metabolism, you can encourage your metabolic activity to increase, thereby burning more calories overall, by eating well and exercising.

Woman with muffin top exploding in jeans

How do I increase my metabolism to lose weight?

If you burn more calories in a day than you consume, you’ll lose weight. But just reducing the amount of food you eat doesn’t work. To lose weight and maintain that weight loss, it’s necessary to create healthy habits that encourage the body to convert and use energy more quickly. Many of these habits are simple. The trick is to make them habits — that is, to keep doing them.

Some habits that will encourage a faster metabolic rate:

  • Eat breakfast! Food in the morning kick starts the digestion process, setting it up well to continue throughout the day.
  • Eat many small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your metabolism working
  • Eat foods that the body uses more energy to digest, like lean protein
  • Exercise. Aerobic or cardio exercise, like running, will burn calories and influence your body’s daily energy balance. Strength training, however, can have an impact on your resting metabolic rate. This is because strength training encourages muscular development, and muscles, although they way the same on the scale as fat, is active tissue — that is, it burns calories. If your body has more muscle content, its resting metabolic rate will be slightly higher.

Although your metabolism does affect your weight, remember that it’s not as simple an equation as higher metabolism equals weight loss. Someone with a slow resting metabolism can still lose weight. Losing weight — and maintaining that weight loss — is all about balancing out your body’s energy needs with the amount and type of food consumed.

About the Author

Guest post by Jessica Josh, a freelancer who writes about health, nutrition, medical weight loss and ways to improve your lifestyle.

Jessica Josh

Jessica Josh is a freelance writer who loves to write about health and nutrition, weddings and real estate. When she isn't writing, she spends her time at her garden.

One thought on “Weight Loss and Your Metabolism

  • February 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Dude, that chick in the picture has a pretty fierce muffin top.


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