If you think that your metabolism is not where it should be well then you’re probably right. First of all, what is this thing called metabolism? Well, metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Your metabolism can play a role in weight gain and loss by influencing the amount of energy your body needs at any given point. Excess energy is then stored as fat. BUT! Don’t be too quick to blame a ‘slow metabolism’ for weight gain as better food choices and exercise have the biggest impact. The biggest component of your metabolism, (50-80%) of the energy used, is your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the energy your body burns just to maintain functioning at rest.
Here are ten factors that affect BMR and metabolism:
- Muscle mass. The amount of muscle tissue on your body. Muscle requires more energy to function than fat. So the more muscle tissue you carry, the more energy your body needs just to exist. (Resistance or strength training is most effective for building and maintaining mass.)
- Age. As you get older, your metabolic rate generally slows. This is because of a loss of muscle tissue and changes to hormonal and neurological processes. During development children go through periods of growth with extreme rates of metabolism.
- Body size. Those with bigger bodies have a larger BMR because they have larger organs and fluid volume to maintain.
- Gender. Men generally have faster metabolisms than women.
- Genetics. Some families have faster BMR than others with some genetic disorders also affecting metabolism.
- Physical activity. Exercise increases muscle mass and powers up your metabolic engines burning kilojoules at a faster rate, even when at rest.
- Hormonal factors. Hormonal imbalances such as hypo & hyperthyroidism can affect your metabolism.
- Environmental factors. Environmental changes such as increased heat or cold forces the body to work harder to maintain its normal temperature and increases BMR.
- Drugs. Caffeine and nicotine can increase your BMR whilst medications such as antidepressants and steroids increase weight gain regardless of what you eat.
- Diet. Food changes your metabolism. What and how you eat has a big influence on your BMR.
This list shows us that some things you can change to alter your BMR and some things you can’t. The good news is that you can do plenty to alter the balance.
Knowing that, here are some of our tips to improving your metabolism:
- First, find your current baseline based on calculations and your measurements. You may go online and google these sort calculators “BMI or TDEE calculator” to have a better understanding where you should be at least.
- Then figure out what your goal is and adjust food intake accordingly. Eat slightly less (250-500) calories to lose weight is a general and common place to begin and vise versa to gain weight. Of course there are many other methods to achieving goals that are also more efficient.
- Eat more often, regularly. Simple enough and make sure your eating balanced, portioned foods with veggies, proteins, carbs and fats.
- Sleep more and better. Getting a good night’s sleep could be the game changer and maybe the only thing you need. You recover during sleep!
- Caffeine helps, but of course consult with a physician first.
- Exercise has so many other benefits than just increasing metabolism! If you find that you’re doing all the above already well then just move more throughout the day and look to hiring a coach to help you with macronutrient planning, and to help you increase metabolism, gain muscle, lose fat and much more!