Weight Loss and Your Metabolism

While a person's metabolism is largely genetic, it is possible to give it a little boost by changing what you eat and when you eat it. Spicy foods, caffeine, fiber, and fish oil can have an effect on metabolism. In addition, people with more muscle burn more calories, so add strength training to your fitness regime. Some diets may have a greater effect on weight loss than others. However, the bottom line is that you need to burn more calories than you consume.


Why Does Metabolism Matter for Weight Loss?

"I'd be skinnier if it weren't for my slow metabolism!" So many of us have heard this, or even said it ourselves. But is it true? How does metabolism play a part in weight loss, and can you speed it up? We're here to answer these questions and more, including tips on how to rev up that metabolism to burn more calories.
First, let's look at what metabolism means. We've all heard the term, but what is it and how does it relate to weight loss? Metabolism is the physical and chemical processes your body goes through to use energy. These processes can include:
  • Breathing
  • Digesting food
  • Controlling body temperature
  • Circulating blood
  • Functioning of the brain and nerves
  • Eliminating waste.
Although these processes can be quite complicated and overwhelming to understand, essentially your basal metabolic rate (also referred to as "metabolism") is the number of calories your body uses to carry out the basic processes you need to function.
However, not everyone's basal metabolic rate is the same. Your individual metabolic rate is determined by a number of factors, such as:
  • Your age: As you age, your body's amount of muscle tends to decrease and fat begins to take up more of your weight, which causes your calorie-burning ability to slow down.
  • Your sex: Men tend to have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age, which means men tend to burn more calories than women do.
  • Your body composition: People who have larger bodies or more muscle burn more calories even while resting.
However, other factors determine how many calories your body will burn each day. These include physical activity and how your body processes food (digestion, absorption, and storing food). In general, your body's energy requirement to process food is fairly steady and doesn't change much; however, your physical activity can be quite variable in the amount of calories you burn each day.
So while metabolism is related to weight, the energy needs for your body's basic functions stay fairly consistent. And while it may be easier to blame your weight gain on a "slow metabolism," it really comes down to the foods you are eating and how much you're exercising. These things directly affect your expanding waistline.
In fact, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause for excess weight gain, unless it is caused by a medical problem that slows down your metabolism, such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or Cushing's syndrome.
In a nutshell, weight gain occurs when you eat more calories than you burn each day. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories and/or increase the amount of calories you burn by exercising. But are there ways to speed up your metabolism? Let's take a look.
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