Why Metabolism Matters for Weight Loss
You’ve likely come across the concept of metabolism, perhaps with a vague understanding. However, there are numerous misconceptions surrounding how metabolism influences your well-being, particularly in relation to weight loss.
Understanding how the body’s metabolism works is critical to maximizing your weight loss goals. Here’s why metabolism matters when it comes to shedding unwanted pounds:
What Is Metabolism?
In straightforward terms, metabolism is the internal mechanism through which your body utilizes energy and consumes calories. It operates continuously, sustaining bodily functions even during rest or sleep. This intricate process converts the food and nutrients you ingest into the energy essential for fundamental activities like breathing, blood circulation, cellular growth and repair, and other vital functions crucial for survival.
How Does it Effect Weight loss?
Metabolism operates at varying intensities among individuals, largely influenced by genetic factors. According to Dr. Chih-Hao Lee, a professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people can possess fast, slow, or average metabolism independent of their body size and composition.
Age is another determinant of metabolism, and it tends to decelerate over time, even for individuals initially blessed with a rapid metabolism. Discrepancies in metabolic speed manifest in the ease or difficulty people experience in gaining or shedding weight. A slower metabolism burns fewer calories, leading to an accumulation of fat in the body. This explains why some individuals encounter challenges in losing weight solely by reducing calorie intake. Conversely, a faster metabolism expedites calorie burning, allowing certain individuals to consume more without gaining excess weight.
However, placing the blame solely on a sluggish metabolism for weight gain is unwarranted, according to Dr. Lee. He emphasizes that, in reality, metabolism often plays a minor role. Factors such as a suboptimal diet and insufficient physical activity tend to be more significant contributors to weight gain, particularly as individuals age.
Metabolism is the sum of all the chemical processes inside your body. One crucial part of metabolism is the energy (measured in calories) your body uses even when you’re not doing anything.
This energy is called your resting metabolic rate, which your body needs to stay alive. For people who are not very active, about 70% of their total daily energy comes from the resting metabolic rate. The rest of the energy comes from two other things:
The thermic effect of food is the energy your body uses to digest and absorb the food you eat.
Activity energy expenditure changes depending on how much physical activity you do each day.
You can achieve successful and lasting weight loss by improving these metabolism components. Once you’ve lost weight, keeping it off becomes easier, too.
Menopause Can Reduce the Rate of Metabolism
Menopause has the potential to diminish the body’s calorie-burning capacity. During this phase, a decrease in estrogen levels can lead to a reduction in metabolic rate, as elucidated by Cederquist. Additionally, menopause may contribute to the accumulation of abdominal fat, a phenomenon supported by research that highlights its impact on metabolism. Furthermore, studies indicate that the age-related decline in muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, exacerbates the situation.
To effectively combat fat gain and safeguard muscle integrity during menopause, a holistic approach is recommended. According to a review published in Menopause in July 2018, combining both diet and exercise proves more efficacious than relying on either strategy independently. Dietary guidelines, as outlined in a March 2015 study from Menopause Review, emphasize the importance of regular, small, high-fiber meals. Researchers recommend maintaining a daily protein intake exceeding 0.36 grams per pound of one’s ideal body weight to support these efforts.
Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
Want to support your metabolism and enhance your weight loss efforts? Here are five science-based tips to help you out:
Exercise daily: Mix resistance, aerobic and flexibility activities to maximize calorie burn.
Perform cleanse days: Reset appetite, metabolism & insulin sensitivity, and initiate autophagy for more efficient body operation.
Pace protein intake: Distribute throughout the day to support muscle retention & growth.
Manage stress: Healthy stress management techniques can positively impact your metabolic rate.
Sleep well: Quality sleep is essential for metabolism & tissue recovery; a consistent sleep schedule optimizes hormones governing metabolic rate.
More Muscle Equals Higher Metabolism: Muscle cells exhibit a heightened calorie-burning capacity due to the energy needed for their contraction and relaxation processes. Consequently, even during periods of inactivity, muscle cells continue to expend calories. The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) constitutes approximately 60% of the body’s overall energy expenditure. Notably, a larger proportion of this energy is derived from lean muscle mass as opposed to fat. For instance, a pound of muscle necessitates six daily calories for maintenance, while a pound of fat consumes four calories. Therefore, a higher ratio of muscle mass in the body contributes to an increased total energy expenditure, proving advantageous for weight loss or the maintenance of a healthy weight. Additionally, enhancing muscle mass through exercise serves as a means to boost BMR, further emphasizing the positive impact of incorporating muscle-building activities into one’s routine.
While some factors affecting metabolism may be beyond your control, incorporating the above strategies into your lifestyle can significantly support a healthy and efficient metabolism.