If you have started the new year with a feeling that you would like to make some kind of a change in yourself, it is often best to look at health changes. These are the kinds of things that you can always work on, and which are generally a good idea at the best of times, so they are worth trying at any time.
One very common health goal is to lose weight, and if you feel or know you are above a healthy weight, then this might be the one for you this year. One of the major things that plays a role in weight loss is metabolism. However, this is a function which relatively few people really understand all that well. But as we shall see, coming to grips with metabolism could be an important part of ensuring that you lose weight as effectively and easily as possible.
What Is It?
Metabolism, put simply, is the process by which the body converts the things you consume into energy. It is an extremely complex process, much of the science behind it being beyond the scope of this short article, but basically it is where calories are combined with oxygen to release energy in the body. Obviously, you need energy for everything you do, including your heart being able to pump blood and your limbs being able to move and so on. Many of the processes that your body needs energy for happen at rest – such as the heart example mentioned there, and circulation, respiration, perspiration, growing and repairing cells, and so on.
The amount of calories that you burn to carry out these automatic processes at rest is often called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is basically what most people are referring to, whether they are aware of it or not, when they talk about metabolism.
What Influences It?
You will often hear people say that they have a fast or slow metabolism, and that is why they lose or gain weight fast, or why they have a particular kind of performance in some athletic pursuit, and so on. But what does this really mean? It is true that metabolisms can be faster or slower, but it might not be quite what you assume it to be. As it happens, there are many factors that can affect your rate of metabolism. For instance, the size of your body – larger and muscular people burn more calories whether they are resting or not. Also, men turn to burn more calories at a faster rate, as they have more muscle and less fat (as a rule). Finally, as you get older, your rate is likely to drop, as you are more likely to see your fat to muscle ratio increase.
But this is not all that plays a role in your metabolism, and understanding what else does might help you to make some better decisions when you are trying to lose weight for real. The main thing that affects how many calories your body burns is the food you eat, which is why we all know dieting to be the most effective method for losing weight. The other main one is exercise. That includes going to the gym of course, but also walking around the home, lifting an arm or going shopping. It’s all the same to the body – although of course there are exercises of different intensities, and so different metabolic results.
Making the Right Choices
So you can see just how important metabolism is to the process of losing weight, and if you are keen to lose some weight, it is good to make sure that your metabolism is as fast as possible. The automatic processes that we talked about – respiration, heartbeat, repairing cells and so on – cannot be altered throughout your life, or only very little. Basically, you have a base metabolism rate for those things and that’s that. But those other things – diet and exercise – you have more control over, and you can increase or decrease your metabolism in those ways, which is what you do when you are dieting and exercising.
However, it is not always how it seems. In fact, there are some basic errors that a lot of people tend to make when it comes to metabolism and its role in losing weight. These include:
- Eating very little. If you don’t eat enough calories, as in hardly anything at all, this actually has the result of slowing down your metabolism. This is why a lot of people who try to eat hardly anything as a diet method end up being disappointed. It simply doesn’t work. Even when dieting, you need to eat enough calories to keep your metabolic rate up.
- Low on protein. Protein is one of the most essential things you need to be providing for your body. It ensures that your muscle mass is higher than your fat, which – as we have seen – is an important ingredient in ensuring that your metabolism is at the rate it should be.
- Not moving around. Although diet is most of the battle, if you are not exercising enough then you are not going to be making quite as much of a difference as you would hope to make. Your metabolism will slow down if you live a sedentary life, so make sure that you are not sitting down all day if you want to take more control of your metabolic rate and therefore your weight.
- Poor sleep. Sleep speeds up weight loss, boosts your metabolism and ensures that the food you eat is converted more efficiently into energy. Make sure you get your eight hours a night if you are really trying to lose weight fast.
As you can see, there is a lot to understand about metabolism if you want to lose weight effectively and quickly. Make sure you are not making any of these mistakes, and you should find that you are going to much more effectively lose the weight you want to lose.