What is metabolism and why is it so important for weight loss? It is quite a known fact that the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to maintain your weight or get rid of unwanted body fat.
Table of contents:
- What Can Affect Your Metabolism?
- Metabolism: Converting Food into Energy
- Metabolism and Weight
- How Can You Burn More Calories?
- 6 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism
Metabolism is defined as the bodily processes needed to maintain life. But when you hear the word “metabolism” used today, it is usually in reference to weight issues. You may hear someone say, “I can’t lose weight because I have a slow metabolism”.
While there is some truth to this, other factors such as how much you eat and exercise, play a much bigger role in your weight than your metabolism does.
What Can Affect Your Metabolism?
Some medications can affect your metabolism either dangerously speeding it up or slowing it down. Eating breakfast every day can jump-start your metabolism.
Weight loss, especially when it is rapid, actually slows your metabolism because it takes less energy for your body to function at a lower weight. So, as you lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories or get more physical activity to burn more calories to keep losing pounds.
Age can slow your metabolism. In general, as you age, you gain fat and lose muscle. Some people also become less active. However, you can do the opposite and take on more physical activity to make up for your slower metabolism.
Metabolism: Converting Food into Energy
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 including metabolic teas are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.
Even when you are at rest, your body needs energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.
The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate, what you might call metabolism.
Several factors determine your individual basal metabolism, including:
Body size and composition, sex and age. In addition to your basal metabolic rate, two other factors determine how many calories your body burns each day:
- Food Processing (thermogenesis): Digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing the food you consume also takes calories. About 10 percent of the calories from the carbohydrates and protein you eat are used during the digestion and absorption of the food and nutrients.
- Physical Activity: Physical activity and exercise such as playing, walking or any other movement account for the rest of the calories your body burns up each day. Physical activity is by far the most variable of the factors that determine how many calories you burn each day.
Metabolism and Weight
It may be tempting to blame your metabolism for weight gain. Unfortunately, weight gain is a complicated process. It’s likely a combination of genetic makeup, hormonal controls, diet composition and the impact of the environment on your lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity, and stress.
All of these factors result in an imbalance in the energy equation. You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn or burn fewer calories than you eat.
While it is true that some people seem to be able to lose weight more quickly and more easily than others, everyone loses weight when they burn up more calories than they eat.
To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit by eating fewer calories or increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity or both.
How Can You Burn More Calories?
You can burn more calories with:
- Regular aerobic exercise.
- Strength training.
- Lifestyle activities – Taking the stairs more often and parking farther away at the store are simple ways to burn more calories. Even activities such as gardening, washing your car and housework burn calories and contribute to weight loss.
6 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism
Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds, could help increase your metabolism for a few hours. Foods rich in iron, zinc and selenium promote the proper function of your thyroid, which helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
- Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, helps in slightly increasing metabolism and fat oxidation.
- The caffeine found in coffee may help boost the number of calories and fat your body burns. However, its effects may vary by individual.
- Legumes and pulses are high in protein, fiber and certain amino acids, which are thought to have metabolism-boosting properties.
- Ginger, grains of paradise and cayenne pepper may help your body burn more calories or fat. However, effects can vary from one individual to another.
- Replacing other fats with a small amount of coconut oil boosts your metabolism and help your body get rid of belly fat.
- Drinking water may temporarily increase your metabolism. However, effects are temporary and may vary between individuals.