How can I increase my metabolism? And other questions answered
Find answers to common questions about increasing metabolism.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the body's process of turning food into the energy we need to live.
When people talk about having a slow metabolism what they usually mean is that they have low basal metabolic rate.
What is my basal metabolic rate?
A persons basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy the body uses when at rest.
It includes all the energy expended to perform basic survival functions such as breathing and maintaining body temperature.
The metabolic rate is determined by a number of factors including body composition, age, gender and genetics.
Muscle burns more calories than fat even when you are resting and your metabolim will slow as you get older.
You can obtain a rough estimate of your basal metabolic rate by multiplying your weigth in pounds by 10 (or your weight in kilograms by 22).
For example for a person weighing 170 pounds would have a basial metabolic rate of around 1700 calories per day.
That is the minimum number of calories your body needs to survive.
You will need more calories than this to live a normal active life, this is just the minimum to stay alive.
A more accurate calculation of basal metabolic rate can be obtained using the Harris-Benedict equations:
Male: BMR = 66.67 + 13.75 * Weight + 5 * Height - 6.76 * Age
Female: BMR = 665.1 + 9.56 * Weight +1.85 * Height - 4.68 * Age
What can cause a slow metabolism?
Eating less calories than your body requires to maintain your basal metabolic rate will cause your metabolism to slow.
This is the bodies natural defence against starvation and ironically means that extreme dieting does not guarentee weight loss.
After the age of 30 there is a big drop in growth hormone as the body has completed all major growth.
This change causes a loss of muscle and a consiquent fall in basal metabolic rate.
Stress can slow metabolism.
Eating meals infrequently and leaving long periods of time between meals can cause your body to conserve energy as it becomes unsure when it will next receive food.
Not drinking enough water.
A problem with your thyroid. Only by consulting your doctor will you be able to diagnose this.
For people with a thyroid problem eatting gluten can agrevate the problem.
How can I increase my metabolism?
Without doubt the best way to increase your metabolism is exercise.
Studies have show that how you exercise can be more important than how long you exercise for.
See our article on the best exercise to burn fat.
Consult your doctor before you start any excercise program.
Integrate weight bearing exercise into your weekly exercise program as this will help counter the natural loss of muscle that occurs in the body with age.
Eat regular meals and never eat less calories than required to maintain your basal metabolic rate.
If you feel the need to snack between meals eat a piece of fruit or small handfull of nuts.
Avoid foods that will cause your body to become inflammed.
That is saturated fats, fried foods, partially hydrogenated found in margarines, chips and baked goods, cooking oils made from corn, sunflower or soy and sugary products.
Instead integrate anti-inflammitory foods into your diet.
A list of anti-inflammatory foods can be found here.