Do you ever wonder how your friend can eat whatever she wants and not gain a pound, while you seem to gain weight by simply looking at food? The answer is in your metabolism—the way your body burns up all the calories from food.
Some people have a fast metabolism which helps keep weight off, and others have a slow metabolism, putting on weight very quickly. The good news is metabolic rate can be altered, and even sped up.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is the rate at which your body’s internal engine operates as it performs its bodily functions. The largest component of your metabolism, approximately 70%, is your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is how many calories you burn just sitting around. In other words, it is the energy used by your body to perform basic functions, such as breathing, keeping the heart beating and maintaining body temperature. As you age, your BMR decreases. Basal metabolic rates differ from person to person due to:
Genetics: A slow metabolism (you burn calories more slowly) or fast metabolism (you burn calories faster) can be inherited.
Amount of lean muscle: Muscle burns calories faster than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest.
Sex differences: Males generally have a 10 to 15% faster BMR than females because the male body naturally has a larger percentage of lean muscle tissue.
Age: Younger people have faster metabolisms due to increased activity of cells.
Medications: Medication can alter your natural state and the rate at which your body burns calories. Check the fine print and consider the side effects and discuss alternatives with your doctor or seek a homeopathic doctor.
Other components of your metabolism include physical activity, which accounts for about 20% of calories burned, and dietary thermogenesis, which is the number of calories required for digesting and processing the food you eat. This accounts for the remaining 10% of energy needs.
How Does This Affect My Weight?
Simply put, your metabolism affects weight management because it determines how many calories you need per day. If you have a high BMR (fast metabolism) it takes a lot of calories for your body to function; eating calorie-laden foods may not pack on the pounds for you. On the other hand, if you have a low BMR (slow metabolism), your body needs fewer calories to function. Unfortunately, for your sluggish metabolism, eating calorie-laden foods will result in weight gain.