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This Month In Health
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  • Blaming Metabolism
    If you've ever struggled to lose or maintain weight, you may have blamed a slow metabolism. But is your metabolism really to blame? Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Blaming Metabolism

What’s the role of metabolism in weight loss?

In theory, it’s simple to determine why you weigh what you weigh. If you’re eating fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Eat more than you burn and you’ll gain.

But there’s more to it than that. Because your metabolism fits in there somewhere, right?

Metabolism refers to your basal metabolic rate, the number of calories your body needs to do its basic functions while at rest. Many people mistakenly believe that a slow metabolism is the reason they’re overweight and that skinny people naturally have a fast metabolism.

Are these people right? Can you blame weight gain on your metabolism, and if so, are there ways to speed it up so you burn more calories? Keep reading to find out.

What Determines Metabolism?

Your basal metabolic rate is determined by your sex, age, weight, and amount of muscle. Since men typically have more muscle and less fat than women, they usually have a faster metabolism. As you age, you’ll likely lose muscle and gain fat, slowing your metabolism. The bigger you are or the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the more calories you burn at rest.

Other Factors

Besides your basal metabolic rate, there are two other things that play a role in how many calories you burn each day. The first factor that affects calorie burn is how your body processes food, which is known as thermogenesis. This refers to how many calories it takes for your body to digest food, absorb and transport nutrients, and store energy.

The second factor that affects your calorie burn is the amount of physical activity you get each day. This includes walking around, doing chores, playing soccer, and any other movements you do.

Can You Blame Metabolism?

It would be easy to blame weight gain on a slow metabolism, but only a few people have such a slow metabolism that they gain weight. Medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) slow metabolism significantly enough to cause weight gain.

For everyone else, weight gain is more complicated than a slow metabolism. It’s a complex combination of genetics, hormones, diet, sleep, stress, lifestyle, and exercise. When these factors are off balance, you have an energy imbalance. When you burn fewer calories than you consume or consume more calories than you burn, the pounds add up. This is why you hear over and over that weight loss depends on the creation of a calorie deficit through exercise or dietary changes.

The Answer? Burn More Calories

You can’t do much to change your metabolic rate, so instead of blaming your weight on a slow metabolism, take action! Weight loss takes consistent hard work, but it is possible. Want to burn more calories? Start moving more. This doesn’t mean you have to work out for two hours a day. It means you should move more throughout the day.

Get at least 30 minutes of moderate- or high-intensity exercise each day. Break it up into three 10-minute workouts if you have to. Find several workouts you enjoy and rotate through them. Go walking, ride bikes, play tennis, take a Zumba class, go swimming, or join a rec league with friends.

At least two times a week, do weight bearing exercises that build and strengthen muscle. Lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises help prevent muscle loss and build new muscle to help you burn more calories at rest.

When not at the gym, take the stairs, park in the farthest spot, get up and move around at the top of every hour, and do exercises while watching television. The goal is to move more, so get creative!


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