Metabolism refers to all the chemical processes involved in transforming the food you consumed into fuel. While this fuel will serve as the energy necessary to keep your entire body working and alive, the speed at which your metabolism works can significantly impact your overall health. This includes your ability to lose weight, but how does metabolism affect weight loss?
Metabolism and Your Age
Your body’s metabolism will start to slow down starting at the age of 30. By then, your metabolism will continue to slow down for about 5% every ten years. This could mean that when you hit the age of 45, your body will be burning 200 fewer calories compared to when you were only 25. This increases the likelihood of gaining as much as 12 pounds a year.
This change in metabolic rate also impacts other functions in the body. Energy levels as well as cognitive functioning can be affected. Aging also can cause muscle loss which adds to the body’s metabolic rate decline.
In turn, lean muscle tissues may be replaced with fat. If nothing is done to prevent this fat accumulation the person’s midsection will begin to increase. We’ve almost certainly all heard of ‘the middle-age spread’. The same thing may occur to the hips and thighs.
Therefore, the metabolism can largely spell the difference between losing weight or gaining weight.
Metabolism and Physical Activity
People who are physically active are more likely to utilize more calories, which is to be expected. This is why active people are less inclined to gain weight.
However, if a person eats more calories than their body’s energy requirements, weight gain is inevitable. This is because unused calories are stored as fat. Being sedentary largely impacts your metabolism in several ways.
For example, if you sit for long periods of time you will inhibit your body’s metabolizing of sugars and fats. Plus, your muscles will weaken, and testosterone and estrogen levels are also affected.
How Basal Metabolic Rate Affects Weight Loss
Conversely, being physically active will increase the body’s ability to utilize fat and glucose even while not exercising. This is because those who are physically active have a higher metabolic rate than those who are sedentary, so their bodies burn more energy even at rest.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is responsible for up to 70% of your body’s total energy expenditure. BMR refers to the speed at which your body consumes energy when you are not physically active. This means that even when you are just sleeping or lying on a couch, your body is still using energy to fuel your body processes.
So if you want to lose weight, speed up your metabolism and work towards increasing your basal metabolic rate by being more physically active.
Increase Basal Metabolic Rate By Exercising
Exercising to gain muscle mass is one of the best ways to increase your BMR and lose weight. This is because your muscles are the most metabolically active compared to any other tissues in the body. As your body breaks down old proteins, while also synthesizing new proteins, it will consume about one fifth of your BMR. It also helps break down fat.
Therefore, if you gain more muscle mass it translates to less fat and a healthier weight. One way to do this is to engage in strength training.
Medical Conditions Can Affect Your Metabolism
Weight gain can also be caused by a medical condition. There are people who gain weight due to thyroid problems, while other people’s excess weight may be caused by diabetes or as a side effect to steroid treatment.
However, for most people weight control is just a matter of simple mathematics – calorie intake should equal the body’s energy requirements.
How Caloric Consumption Affects Your Metabolism
Some people, in their effort to lose weight, consume extremely low amounts of calories thinking that this will help them to lose weight faster. What they may not realize is this can cause their metabolism to backfire.
This is because the human body is designed to sense and prevent starvation. If the body senses that it is not ingesting enough calories for survival, it automatically signals the metabolism to slow down. The body thinks it is facing a famine so it will conserve as much energy as possible. This causes a slowing metabolism. This is one of the reasons why losing weight is not an easy process.
On the other hand, any excess in the amount of calories ingested will be stored by the body as fat reserves. This is stored for times of potential famine. The excess energy (or food consumption) is often referred to as unused energy.
This unused energy is what leads to excess pounds. Today, we mostly don’t have a need to store excess fat, as most of us can access food at any time, unlike our ancestors who had to lay down fat for survival.