Metabolism What is it? How It Affects Your Weight [fitness tips]

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You hear about this thing called metabolism all the time, but do you really know what it is or why it’s important? Or, most relevant, what you should do to make it work in your favor? Well, by the end of this article – you will know…and as Mayo Angelou says, “when you know better, you do better”.

Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR is basically the amount of calories your body would burn in a day if you just slept all day. You can also look at it like the amount of calories or energy your body needs to burn or expend just to maintain your functionality. It is important because it’s responsible for up to 70% of all calories expended. How fast or high your metabolism is depends on several factors…

Body Composition – the more muscle you have versus fat, the higher your metabolism will be because more calories/energy need to be expended to maintain muscle, than to maintain fat.

Genetics – we’ve all seen those tall/thin model-esque women who couldn’t gain weight if they tried…yes, genetics does a play a role. Some people are born with faster metabolisms than others…and, for example, Tall, thin people have higher BMR’s than a petite person of the same exact weight. Be thankful if you are one of those people with great genetics, but don’t forget that there is still such a thing as “skinny fat” and you should not think that you don’t need to exercise or eat healthy. Being healthy is far removed from being thin. And, even being “fit” does not necessarily belong to only the thin.

Gender – Men have a greater muscle mass and a lower body fat percentage than women, which means they have a higher basal metabolic rate. Yes, this is why your male significant other can eat the same things you might eat, and his body doesn’t pack on the pounds to the hips and thighs (plus, women’s hips are designed to “spread” for childbearing purposes).

Age – BMR drops with age. After age 20 it is said to decrease about 2% per decade, which is why when many people get into their 30’s and 40’s they start noticing extra weight/fat in areas they never had it in before, or they notice that it takes more effort just to maintain or make gains in their fitness goals.

Weight – Well, so far, if you are not tall and thin or a man, it may seem the odds are against you. But interestingly enough, another category of people also have a higher BMR. Obese women actually have a BMR 25% higher than thin women. Think about all the times you’ve seen Biggest Loser with Obese people losing massive amounts of weight in weeks & months and you are still working on that same 10 lbs. Because they have so much weight to lose, their bodies have to work harder and expend more calories than a thin person would. You can take an obese person and a thin person have them run on the treadmill for the same length of time, and the Obese person’s calorie expenditure will be higher.

Written By: Jeanene Cannon NASM CPT, CES, MSW 

Connect with Jeanene Cannon on Facebook and Twitter!

 This is part one of a four part fitness series on “Metabolism What is it and How It Affects Your Weight” part II coming next week!

“High BMR” To Do List” part III coming in November.

“Turn ON Your Metabolism” Part IV coming in November.

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