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A Better Understanding of Metabolism and What it Does

When you hear about exercise and nutrition, you will most likely come across the term metabolism at one point or another. Metabolism is often associated with weight, specifically weight loss. Many believe that those with a higher metabolism have an easier time losing weight and those with a lower metabolism often struggle. This belief is somewhat true, but your weight is not entirely dependent on your metabolism. In simple terms, your metabolism is a form of energy conversion. When you consume food, you take in units of energy, calories, and then your body converts it into usable energy for body functions. Even when your body is at rest, it continues to burn calories, which is called your body's metabolic rate. The following will provide you with greater in-depth information about your metabolism and the role your diet plays in this.

How Does it Work?: Metabolism

As mentioned before, your metabolism is a way of converting energy from food and drink into usable energy for the body. Several factors go into determining one's metabolism and metabolic rate. One of the main factors that go into a metabolic rate is gender. More often than not, males have a higher metabolic rate than females. Men typically have a greater amount of muscle than females and because muscle is a metabolic tissue, males have a greater metabolism.

This leads us into our second factor that influences metabolism, body composition and weight. The more a person weighs, the higher their metabolism is. With that said, the higher your level of lean muscle, the higher your metabolism will be. Adipose tissue, or fat, is not considered to be a metabolic tissue and therefore does not burn as many calories as muscle. To put this in perspective, if you compare two people who each weigh 150 pounds, but one is at 5% body fat and the other is at 35% body fat, the person who has 5% will have a higher metabolism. This is because his body composition has a higher percentage of muscle than the other individual.

Our final main factor that impacts the metabolic rate is age. As individuals get older, their metabolism will naturally slow down. When you think about it, this makes sense because we naturally lose muscle as we get older and muscle atrophy. With less metabolic tissue in the body, the lower your metabolism will inevitably be.

The Checklist: Diets and Metabolism

Many people are looking for a way to boost their metabolisms or have a higher metabolic rate. One of the best ways to achieve this is through a proper diet. Here are some recommendations to keep your metabolism revving.

  • Protein - Make sure that your diet includes lots of lean protein. Your body uses more energy to digest protein than other foods and therefore increases your metabolic rate. Good sources of lean protein include chicken, tuna, and turkey.
  • Spice - Spicy foods have shown to increase metabolic rates by an extra 50 calories a day. Some common spicy options include chili and poblanos. 
  • Water - It is important to stay hydrated to support your overall health anyway, but it also has metabolic boosting effects. This may be temporary but keeping hydrated has positive benefits for your metabolism.

Now that you've gotten all the basics, you are now ready to start improving your metabolism. A healthy metabolism is important to maintaining or losing weight and is a sign of good health. If you have any concerns regarding your metabolism, it is recommended to seek out medical help from a certified care practitioner.

Questions and Answers:

This can be a confusing topic, so here is a list of common questions and their respective answers.

Q: How can you boost your metabolism?

A: There are several ways to go about this, but a balance of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and increasing muscle are all recommended.

Q: Will eating less boost my metabolism?

A: This could have the opposite effect and lower your metabolism. When your body doesn't receive enough energy from food, then the body starts burning less to preserve energy, therefore your metabolism slows down.

Q: Does stress have an impact on metabolism?

A: Stress can increase cortisol levels which can have an impact on your metabolism. This is a stress hormone that typically lowers metabolic rates.


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This article should not be considered as medical advice. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional advice from a certified doctor or other qualified healthcare provider. Always speak with a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing any prescribed care or treatment plan. healthnfitness.net provides this reading material as a helpful resource, but it should never be a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment from a medical physician, a certified personal trainer, a therapist, a dietitian, or a nutritionist. If in a medical emergency, call a doctor or dial 911 immediately.

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