Factors such as age, gender, muscle mass, and physical activity can affect metabolism. In this article, we’ll be discussing what you need to know about metabolism. Your metabolism is constantly fueling your body for basic bodily functions like breathing and digestion. Your body requires a minimum number of calories (basal metabolic rate or BMR) to maintain these functions.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism includes various biochemical processes, reactions, and transformations that convert one form of energy into another. It’s a complex process that combines calories and oxygen to generate and release energy. This energy fuels bodily functions. Your metabolism doesn’t stop even when your body is at rest. It continuously provides energy for basic bodily functions such as:
- Circulating blood
- Digesting food
- Growing and repairing cells
- Managing hormone levels
- Regulating body temperature
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories your body needs at rest and varies from person to person. Your metabolism plays a vital role in keeping your body functioning. Certain factors such as age, muscle mass, and physical activity affect how your metabolism uses calories for energy.
Fast metabolism vs. slow metabolism
People with faster metabolisms or BMRs burn a lot of calories even when resting. If you have a slow metabolism or a slow BMR, your body needs fewer calories to maintain it. A fast metabolism doesn’t necessarily lead to thinness. In fact, research shows that people who are overweight/obese generally have a fast metabolism.
Their bodies require more energy to maintain basic bodily functions. A fast or slow metabolism is not really a factor in weight gain or loss. Your weight is related to calorie intake, not calorie consumption. Significantly reducing calorie intake can negatively affect metabolism.
Factors that can affect your metabolism
- Muscle Mass. Building and maintaining muscle requires more energy (calories) than fat. People with more muscle mass generally have a faster metabolism and therefore burn more calories.
- Age. As you age, you lose muscle, which slows down your metabolism
- Gender. Men tend to have faster metabolisms than women. They have more muscle mass, larger bones, and less body fat.
- Genes. The genes you inherit from your parents play an important role in your muscle size and ability to increase muscle mass.
- Physical activity. Walking, chasing the kids, playing tennis, and other forms of exercise will make your body burn more calories than sitting for long periods of time.
- Smoking. Nicotine speeds up your metabolism, so you burn more calories. This is one of the reasons why ex-smokers gain weight. But the health effects of smoking, such as cancer, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease, far outweigh the possible benefits of burning a few extra calories.
How do you take care of your metabolism?
- Don’t skip meals. Your metabolism adapts quickly and starts using fewer calories to maintain body function. If you restrict calories too much, your body will start breaking down muscles for energy.
- Boost your metabolism with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy carbohydrates and fats.
- Strength training or do other anti-weight exercises to build muscle.
- Quit smoking. Your metabolism may slow down a bit, but you’ll lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other problems.