What Is Metabolism and How Do I Change It?

change metabolism with exercise
Cultura RM/Seth K. Hughes/ Cultura/ Getty Images

Metabolism is a combination of biochemical processes that your body uses to convert food into energy. These metabolic processes include breathing, eating and digesting food, the delivery of nutrients to your cells through the blood, the use of energy by your muscles, nerves and cells, and finally the elimination of waste products from your body. 

The Definition of Metabolism

When dieters talk about metabolism, they usually aren't talking about a long list of physical and chemical processes.

We often use the word "metabolism" to describe the rate at which our bodies burn calories. This is the rate at which your body converts food into energy (calories) and then uses the energy to perform essential and non-essential daily functions. The rate at which we burn calories or burn energy is called metabolic rate. 

Your metabolic rate might change from day to day depending on your activity level, but your basal metabolic rate stays fairly steady. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories needed to fuel your body's essential functions, like breathing and circulating blood. Basal metabolic rate is the most significant component of your total metabolic rate. 

What Is My Basal Metabolic Rate?

There are several different ways to determine your basal metabolic rate. The most accurate way to measure BMR is to have it tested in a lab. Some health clubs also do metabolic testing for a fee.

But you can calculate your metabolic rate using an online calculator

If you like to do math, you can also use the Harris-Benedict Equation to calculate your basal metabolic rate:

Men:  BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (5.677 x age in years)

Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years)

Your total metabolism or metabolic rate is a combination of your BMR and other variable metabolic processes like eating, exercise and other daily movement

Why Is My Metabolism Slow?

Everyone's metabolic rate is different. You might wonder why other people seem to have a fast metabolism and you have a slow metabolism.  There many be several reasons why. There are many different factors that affect metabolism

How Can I Change My Metabolism to Lose Weight?

There are some things that you can change about your metabolism and some things that you can't. For example, you can't change your age or your gender. But there are some things that you can change to boost your metabolism and lose weight. These include:

Your metabolism will change slightly from day to day. But if you can learn how to manage and maintain a healthy metabolism on a regular basis, weight loss and weight maintenance will be easier.

Sources:

Medline Plus. Metabolic Disorders. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed: October 31, 2015. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/metabolicdisorders.html

Medline Plus. Metabolism. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed: October 31, 2015. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002257.htm

What Is Metabolic Syndrome. National Institutes of Health. Accessed: October 31, 2015. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms

Continue Reading