Metabolism & Weight Loss
What is metabolism and what does it have to do with weight loss? We hear about metabolism constantly and read tips on how to boost it, but many of us are still a little vague on exactly what metabolism is.
What Is Metabolism?
Metabolism is a process that determines the rate at which our body uses calories for food and fuel. Our bodies require a specific amount of calories each day to keep it running, although it's easy to consume many more calories than needed. Metabolism affects how easily we gain or lose weight; some people seem to gain weight just by thinking about food, while others can eat everything in sight and not gain an ounce.
What Affects My Metabolism?
A number of factors can affect your metabolism. Genetics play a large role, as does age and gender. Lean body mass can affect metabolism as well (the more muscle you have, the higher the metabolism). A thyroid condition can affect metabolism, but not much. Weight also plays a role in metabolism; the more you weigh, the higher your metabolism. This is why it's easy for people to lose weight at the beginning of a diet and much harder later on.
Exercise and Metabolism
Exercise is the best way to boost your metabolism and muscle building exercise helps boost metabolism even more. Every pound of muscle you have burns 35 to 50 calories while 1 pound of fat burns only 2 calories. Weight training has been shown to boost metabolism for longer periods of time as well, making muscle building a smart option. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn.
Aging and Metabolism
We tend to gain weight as we age, at least to a certain extent. In general, we gain weight and lose muscle mass as we age, until we hit 70 or so, when there's a tendency to then begin to lose weight. Weight gain and loss can be due to a number of factors including appetite, diet, lifestyle, stress, and fitness level. Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise and a balanced diet is the only way to keep metabolism active as we age.
Metabolism and Weight Loss
While your ability to change your metabolism is limited, there are steps you can take to maintain your metabolism and your weight. Cutting calories from your diet will help you lose weight, but exercise will pick up the slack. Metabolism and weight loss go hand in hand. Losing weight will affect your metabolism which will then affect how you lose weight.
As you lose weight, you'll need to consume fewer calories than before, so be sure to adjust your diet accordingly. As you lose weight, your metabolism will kick in and help you. But remember, it can only do so much. Rely on a healthy diet and regular exercise to help you lose weight and maintain healthy habits to keep the weight off.