If you’ve ever wrestled with the scale, you’ve probably made attempts at boosting your metabolism. When most people talk about their metabolism, they’re usually referring to their ability to lose weight or keep it off. In fact, we almost always associate it with weight, even though metabolism is a broad term referring to all the different ways your body uses energy.
Energy is the key word here, but that doesn’t mean its relationship to your body is simple to grasp. Here are seven facts about your metabolism to help you understand your journey with weight.
1 – Know Your BMR
Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the rate at which you burn energy at rest. Think about it as the amount of energy you need to perform all your basic functions: breathing, blood circulation, nutrient processing, sleeping, etc. Knowing your BMR is a helpful weight-loss tool because it assists you in calculating the amount of calories you need to burn and consume.
2 – It’s Influenced by Muscle
Lean muscle mass helps you burn more calories (energy). One pound of muscle might burn 10 calories per day, while one pound of fat might only burn three. As we age, we typically lose lean muscle mass and come up at odds with our metabolism. That’s why it’s so important to engage your existing muscles on a regular basis and work on building more.
3 – Dieting Slows it Down
When most people lose weight, they tend to lose a combination of fat and muscle. But really, fat loss (not muscle loss) should be your goal (see the tip above). At a smaller weight, your body also needs fewer calories than it did before. However, it’s focused on getting the amount of energy from calories that it used to as a defense mechanism. No wonder weight-loss is so hard!
4 – Protein is Important
Protein isn’t just good for keeping you full. It’s a building block nutrient that your body needs to stay functional. Without it, your body is forced to take it from your muscles instead of food. Protein can fuel not only your muscles, but give you energy to complete your day.
5 – Sleep is Also Important
When you sleep, your body hits the “reset” button which burns calories. If you’re not getting enough shuteye and your quality of sleep is suffering, your metabolism will probably take a hit. Many studies indicate that poor sleep quality can actually trigger weight gain.
6 – Your Food Habits Count
Research points to a slower metabolism if your eating habits aren’t consistent. If you’re one to skip breakfast to save on calories and load-up on dinner later on, you might be sabotaging it. Typically, a steady stream of food energy throughout the day will keep it boosted.
7 – You Don’t Have Total Control
When it comes to your metabolism, there are factors which influence it beyond your control. Genetics do play a role in your unique BMR, but health problems do too. Examples include hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome, diabetes and altered hormone levels.
When it comes to managing your weight, your metabolism DOES make a difference. However, it does so much more than that. Metabolism is a chemical process in each of your cells that turns energy from food into fuel. So many aspects of your body depend on it, not just weight control. When you examine your everyday routine (food, exercise, sleep, etc.), ask yourself, “beyond weight-loss, how else am I helping my body stay healthy and function at its best?”
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