In today’s health-conscious world, we hear a lot about our metabolism. Some people have a fast metabolism while others have a slow one. According to all the diet hype, weight gain and loss relies heavily on the metabolism. But do you really know what your metabolism is? Simply put, metabolism is the process of converting food to energy. It takes place in muscles and organs, and, in simple terms, burns calories.
The metabolism for each person varies, and research shows the metabolism is established at birth. To determine if you have a fast or slow metabolism, also known as your basal or resting metabolic rate – the rate at which you use energy at rest (sleeping, sitting on the couch, etc.), examine your body composition. The more total fat-free mass you have (including muscles, bones, organs, etc.), the higher your BMR. On average, BMR is about half a calorie per pound of body weight, per hour. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you will use approximately 70 calories per hour doing nothing.
The main factor affecting metabolism is the amount of muscle tissue (fat-free mass) in the body. Building and maintaining muscle tissue occurs with regular exercise. If your exercise program slows down or is non-existent, this explains why you may feel that your metabolism has slowed down as well.
Food intake also affects your metabolism. When you reduce the amount of calories you consume or go long periods between eating meals, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy.
Though many attribute a slower metabolism to increasing age, it, in fact, is due to the decreased amount of exercise and the resulting muscle loss that comes with getting older.
There are several key ways you can improve, or speed up, your metabolism. The first, and perhaps most obvious, way is to increase lean muscle mass. You can achieve this with regular exercise that includes a weight and strength training program as well as an aerobic regime. The second step is eating a healthy diet at regular intervals. Maintain a diet rich in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and grains. These fuel your metabolism. Also, make sure your calorie intake is more than 1,200 calories per day. This will help maintain your BMR rather than slow it down. Be sure and drink a lot of water. This helps your metabolism function properly. Also, avoid alcohol, which depresses your metabolism.
Finally, do not opt for an easy fix with supplements or miracle pills. They simply do not work. Instead, managing your metabolism should be done in a safe and healthy manner. By following the above recommendations, you should see an improvement to your metabolism. As you continue heeding this advice, your metabolism – and you – will stay in great shape.