You’ve probably heard people blame their weight on a slow metabolism, but what does that mean? Is metabolism the culprit? And if so, is it possible to rev up your metabolism to burn more calories?
Metabolism is indeed linked to weight. But contrary to common belief, slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain.
Although your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, how much you eat and drink along with how much physical activity you get are the things that ultimately determine your weight.
What does Metabolism mean anyway?
In short, metabolism refers to how your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.
Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, blinking, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these essential functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR) — what you might call metabolism.
This is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 to 1600 calories per day for a healthy adult. However, some factors can lower the number of calories your body burns per day and increase the number of calories your body burns per day.
What decreases your metabolism?
- Losing weight. The smaller your body, the fewer calories it needs to maintain it, and the bigger you are, the more calories it needs to maintain. So while a tiny percentage of the population has a slow metabolism, on average obese individuals have a FASTER metabolism than lean individuals. It’s like the Bigger the home (, the bigger the person), the bigger the air conditioning unit (more calories) your house requires to cool it, and the smaller the home (smaller person), the smaller the air conditioning unit (fewer calories) you need.
- Losing weight too quickly. The problem with losing weight too quickly is that you lose muscle, and when you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down.
- Forever dieting. The more you diet or have dieted, the slower your metabolism will become.
- Restricting too many calories. Dramatically restricting calories for more than a few days will lower your metabolism.
- Losing muscle. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than other tissues such as bone and fat, meaning muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.
- Getting older. We also inevitably lose muscle tissue as we get older, which leads to a slower metabolism. As a result, we generally need fewer calories as we age.
- Low thyroid function. One of the many things the thyroid gland does is regulate metabolism. If your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows. You can have your thyroid function tested if you suspect it is a factor. If it is low, your doctor will probably suggest a replacement thyroid hormone, which can help. Please keep in mind thyroid issues are pretty rare; only 5% of the US population suffers from them.
5 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
- Exercise. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. Some people who have a fast metabolism are just more active — and maybe fidget more — than others.
- Lift Weights. Strength training is important because it helps build muscle, and muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does. Aim to lift weights at least two days a week.
- Eat more protein. Protein takes more effort for your body to digest than fat or carbs. You’ll burn more calories digesting a high-protein meal than you would digesting a low-protein meal that has the same number of calories, But it’s not as significant as you might think, maybe an extra 10-20 calories per day.
- Chill. Your body burns calories to keep body warm. The cooler your environment, the more calories you burn. Taking cold showers and drinking ice water can increase your calorie burn. Again, you might only burn an extra 10-20 calories per day.
- Eat metabolism-boosting foods. There are also some foods and herbs, including hot peppers, vinegar (any kind), and green tea, which increase the rate at which your body burns calories. But again, it’s not many, maybe 10-20 calories per day at best.
How to Preserve your Metabolism
- Prioritize weight training.
- Avoid fad diets, extended fasting (more than three days), and extremely low-calorie diets.
- Take your time when you are losing weight. Rule of thumb, don’t lose more than 2 lbs per week.
- Take a diet break. We aren’t meant to be forever dieting. Take a break and go into maintenance mode for a few weeks to months because the more you continue to diet, the slower your metabolism will become.
- Consume sufficient protein, which helps prevent muscle loss during weight loss. Aim for at least 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 150 grams of protein a day. If you eat four meals a day, divide that between 4 meals (give or take 35 grams of protein per meal). There are about 20 grams of protein in a 4 oz cooked chicken breast to give you an idea.
- Do NOT buy “metabolism-boosting” supplements. Products that claim to speed up your metabolism are often more hype than help, and some may cause undesirable or even dangerous side effects. You cant hack your way to a healthier and fitter you. You have to put in the work.
There’s no easy way to lose weight. The foundation for weight loss is simple: Eat fewer calories or increase the number of calories you burn through physical activity or both, but executing it is hard. Luckily, I have a customized meal plan that can help you. I will teach you what to eat and how much to eat, plus you’ll get weekly accountability to help you stay on track. If you’re interested, click HERE.
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