Boosting Your Metabolism

by Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Posted on Jan 22, 10:58 PM in and . Comments [1].

You’ve probably heard people say “I cant lose weight because I have a slow metabolism”. There have been plenty of studies to show that people will lose weight when their calories are restricted but it is true that everyone will have a slightly different metabolic rate and some will have a slower one than others.

But is it inevitable that someone with a slow metabolism is destined to be stuck with it forever and find it perpetually difficult to lose weight?

Metabolic rate

The term ‘metabolic rate’ refers to the energy (calories) you expend over the course of the day just to keep your body functioning – your heart beating and your lungs breathing, for example. This is often called the basal or resting metabolic rate.

Scientists have measured the exact amount of calories overweight and healthy weight people burn while sitting or lying quietly. Results from these studies have shown that overweight people use more energy to keep their bodies working. This is because they have larger bodies with bigger muscles and internal organs. So in fact, overweight people often have a much higher metabolic rate than they realise!

Can I change my metabolic rate if I think its slow?

There are some possible ways to increase your metabolism:

  • Basal metabolic rate can be influenced by your body composition.
    Muscle tissue needs more energy to function than fatty tissue, so people with more muscle (or ‘lean’) tissue will have a higher metabolism. So, you could change your metabolic rate by exercising more, burning calories, reducing fat and increasing the amount of lean tissue you have. You should include full body strength and light weight training in your workouts. Dont diet without including exercise.
    This is particularly important as we get older, when we tend to gain fat and lose muscle. This explains why basal metabolic rate tends to decrease with age.
  • There are some pills, supplements and foods that claim to speed up the metabolism and burn fat. Most of these claims are unproven.
  • Some chemicals, such as nicotine and caffeine, do have a very small effect. However, any increase in the metabolism may be accompanied by an increase in the heart rate and other side-effects, and so aren’t recommended as a treatment for obesity.

What about Diet?

There is some evidence to suggest that following a very low calorie diet or habitually skipping meals can lead to a reduction in basal metabolic rate.

The theory behind this is a mechanism which is thought to have evolved as a defence against starvation. In starvation, the body makes the most of the calories it does get from food and drink by protecting fat stores and instead use lean tissue or muscle to provide it with some of the calories it needs to keep functioning. This directly leads to a loss of muscle, which in turn lowers metabolic rate so that the body needs fewer calories to keep ticking over and weight loss slows down. This is a good solution if you’re in a famine situation, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it is going to do little to help you shift those unwanted pounds!

Best ways to avoid a flagging metabolic rate:

  • Eat regular, balanced meals.
  • Never skip meals, and have a decent breakfast which includes protein.
  • There have been suggestions that things like spicy foods and green tea can also boost metabolism. As yet, there isnt enough evidence to recommend these just for boosting metabolism’s sake.

Metabolic Rate and Weight Loss

Your metabolic rate will naturally slow down a little when you lose weight. This isn’t automatically because you’ve lost muscle, but is because your body has less weight to carry around, so it needs fewer calories. Simply put, there is less of you to carry up and down the stairs or to the supermarket, and because your body doesn’t have to work as hard as it did in the past, it can survive on fewer calories.

Its important to recalculate energy needs after weight loss. Recalculating is the best way to combat the dreaded plateau.

So it can be done. A “slow” metabolism can be revived as long as you include a healthy eating plan with a good exercise regime. Good news!

Tags: Lean Muscle, Metabolism, Protein

About the author

Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Anne is a Health Professions Council (HPC) registered dietitian (RD), an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD- Australia), a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and of The Dietetics Association of Australia.

Comment

  1. this post gives such a wonderful information to boost metabolism.the author gives all information in such good manner so reader can easily understand.

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