Ways To Speed Up Your Metabolism

February 25, 2012 by staff 

Ways To Speed Up Your Metabolism, Some people are quick to blame their inability to lose weight on a slow metabolism. But, before you declare your metabolism the enemy, it’s important to understand exactly what a metabolism is, how it works and how vital it is.

Understanding Your Metabolism

In simple terms, metabolism is the speed at which your body’s engine runs, the rate at which your body uses energy, according to Christopher Bell, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado’s Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology. Although many types of metabolism exist, energy metabolism is what most people are referring to when talking about weight loss or gain.

Your body needs energy just to exist; you burn energy, or calories, every time your heart beats and every time you take a breath, said Nancy Keim, Ph.D., a research nutrition scientist at the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis. The rate at which you use energy while executing these basic life functions is called your basal metabolism, according to Keim.

“Your basal, or resting, metabolic rate is basically how much total energy your body needs to maintain a vegetative state. In other words, it’s how much energy you need just to exist,” said Keim. According to Bell, our bodies burn the majority of calories doing relatively nothing, simply sitting still, breathing, even sleeping.

To move your muscles and perform activities beyond its basic functions, your body needs additional energy, Keim said. The amount of additional energy you need depends on how active you are. “The more sedentary you are, the closer your energy expenditure is to your resting rate,” she said.

So, what determines your metabolic rate? According to Dr. Helena Rodbard, an endocrinologist in Bethesda, Md., many things do. “Your metabolism is a mixed bag,” she said. “There are a number of factors that determine it.”

Bell agreed. “A person’s size and lean body mass contribute to metabolism,” he said. Age, gender, activity level, body temperature and environmental temperature also play a role in determining your metabolic rate, he said.

“Typically, you see a greater resting metabolism in younger versus older people, in males versus females and in those who habitually exercise versus those who are more inactive,” said Bell.

Also, to some extent, your ancestors contributed to your metabolic rate. According to Keim, “Genetics definitely plays a role in metabolism. There are probably physiological mechanisms that set our body weight, and to some degree this is determined by our genetic makeup.”

Frank Booth, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Missouri, agreed. “For centuries our genes have been in a background of physical activity,” he said. “Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers — they had to work to get their food. It’s only been in the last century that we’ve become such a sedentary society. It takes a long time for our genes to catch up. Instead of hunting our food, we get in our car, go to the drive-thru and order fatty foods. Our genes haven’t adjusted to that.”

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