What is Metabolism? MissFit explains

We hear so much about Metabolism – but what is it exactly?   “Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.”1 Even when we are at rest, our bodies need a certain amount of energy to perform all of the basic functions that keep us alive, such as breathing, circulating blood, regulating body temperature, repairing cells, etc. The amount of energy your body needs while at rest is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Your BMR accounts for 60-80 percent of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), or the total amount of calories you burn in a day.

1 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508

So, what affects your BMR?

Your individual BMR is influenced by several factors, including:

  • Age – as we get older, our bodies tend to gain fat and lose muscle, so our BMR slows down.
  • Body Size – bigger adults have a higher BMR.
  • Gender – men usually have more muscle mass than women. Muscle mass requires more energy to sustain, so men normally have a higher BMR than women.
  • Extreme Dieting – excessive or extreme dieting causes your BMR to slow down, as your body attempts to conserve energy. This can cause long-term damage to your metabolism.


So, why is knowing your BMR important?

Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance, knowing your BMR will help you to determine the total calories you generally burn in a day. Knowing how much fuel your body requires will allow you to determine how much food you should be eating to achieve your goals.

Can I change my BMR and speed up my metabolism?

Yes! While we can’t control all of the factors that influence BMR, the good news is that we can make healthier choices and lifestyle changes that will help optimise metabolism and burn more calories.

Most people have probably heard the ‘metabolism as a campfire’ analogy.2 Your metabolism is like a campfire that is always burning, just a little bit. To keep a campfire burning, you have to keep adding one or two good quality logs every couple of hours. Too few logs and the fire will die; too many logs and the fire will not be able to burn through all of them efficiently, leaving some logs unburnt. Similarly, to rev up your metabolism and really get it firing, you must keep your body stoked with good, nutritious foods every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Without enough good food, your fire will not have enough fuel and your metabolism will slow down. If you eat too much food, your body will not be able to use all of it, so whatever is left over will be stored as fat.

Accordingly, eating the right amount of the right foods at the right times will ensure that your metabolic fire is properly fuelled and burning calories efficiently.

In addition to eating the right foods at the right times, regular aerobic exercise and strength training are key to optimising your metabolism. You can control the amount of calories your body burns by the amount of physical activity you do. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. The type of activity is also important. While cardiovascular training is very effective for burning calories, strength training is equally important. Strength training helps build muscle mass and your body must work harder to maintain muscle mass. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.

By eating good, healthy foods throughout the day to keep your metabolic fire stoked and by doing regular, high intensity cardio and strength training, you will ensure that your metabolism is revved up and burning calories more efficiently.


2 http://www.losestubbornfat.com/losing-body-fat/