Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories

dr-greenFrequently, we hear people blame their weight on their slow metabolism. Here, I will spell out how your metabolism is really linked to weight gain and what factors play into your ability to lose weight.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is true that metabolism is linked to weight. But contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Although your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, it’s your food and beverage intake and your physical activity that ultimately determine how much you weigh.

Your metabolism is the chemical process by which your body breaks down what your consume and turns into energy. During this process, the calories you consume are turned into vital energy that your body needs to function, including “hidden” functions such as breathing, blood circulation, growing cells and more.

In order to determine your body’s basal metabolic rate, or what you might call metabolism, you need to determine the number of calories ingested per day, along with including other various factors. Several items known to determine your basal metabolic rate include:

  • Your body size and build: Those with more muscle have the ability to burn more calories, even while at rest.
  • Your sex: Typically, men have less body fat and more muscle than women, which burns more calories.
  • Your age: As we age, the amount of muscle in our bodies tend to decrease, leading to a slower rate of calorie burning. Additionally, as we get older, we tend to lead more sedintatry lifestyles and are less physically active.

Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories

In additon to your basal metabolic rate, the rate at which your body processes food and your level of physical activity also impact how many calories your body burns daily. Thermogenisis refers to the rate that your body can digest, absorb, transport and store the food you consumer and accounts for 100 to 800 of the calories you burn daily. The amount of physical activity you perform also plays a part in the amount of calories you burn. This is by far the most variable of the factors that determine how many calories you burn each day.

According to the Mayo Clinic, unfortunately, weight gain is complicated. It is likely a combination of genetic makeup, hormonal controls, diet composition, and the impact of environment on your lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity and stress. All of these factors result in an imbalance in the energy equation. You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn — or burn fewer calories than you eat.

While it is true that some people seem to be able to lose weight more quickly and more easily than others, everyone will lose weight when they burn up more calories than they eat. To lose a pound of fat, you need to create a deficit of about 3,500 calories. That can be done with both diet and exercise. To lose a pound a week, for instance, you could reduce your food intake by 500 calories a day or burn an additional 500 calories each day through exercise (maintaining constant caloric intake) — or do some combination of diet and exercise that knocks off 500 calories. So if you exercise and then don’t replace the calories you burned during the workout, your body will burn more fat because you’ve created a caloric deficit. Unfortunately we all tend to overestimate the amount of calories burned during exercise and it’s easy to sabotage what you’ve just accomplished. It may take an hour of exercise to burn 400 calories but five minutes to consume them back so be careful with a post workout snack or meal.

Check back in the coming months for advice on how to tip the metabolic balance in your favor.

Dr Green

 

Source: Mayo Clinic

 

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