Advertisement

How does metabolism influence weight loss?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness
In the context of weight loss, metabolism is considered how fast and how many calories you burn daily, therefore theoretically, metabolism should dictate how quickly or easy it would be for someone to lose, gain or control their weight. Unfortunately, fast and slow resting metabolisms are more of a myth than reality. Although two people of the same weight, height and body composition may burn calories at a slightly different rate, the difference is so small it’s virtually insignificant in the big picture. And no matter who you are, the heavier the body, the more calories it burns in all activities. Contrary to what most people believe, we do have control over our metabolism and how fast we lose weight. As an example, simply standing up instead of sitting burns more calories, so minimizing time spent sitting will boost your overall metabolism. If you start walking or doing any activity on a regular basis, your metabolism will increase significantly.

There are 3-parts to our metabolism, one of which we have full control:
  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): The amount of calories burned while in a resting/quiet state. RMR for an average person is the largest part of total metabolism accounting for 65-75% of calories burned daily. We have little control over RMR unless we add a significant amount of muscle or weight leading to an increase of calories burned (3-6cals/day/pound depending on muscle to fat content).
  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): This is the energy used by the body to digest and absorb food. The energy used for TEF accounts for ~ 10% of calories burned. We have little control over TEF.
  • Physical activity: The amount of energy the body burns during daily activities such as exercise, recreation, work, housework, etc. Daily physical activities can account for 10-50% of calories burned each day depending on the individual’s activity. Therefore we have complete control over this aspect of metabolism. A sedentary person will require fewer calories to maintain weight than a more active counterpart. So the moral of the story is never sit if you can perform the same activity standing or pacing, whether it’s phone work, reading, watching your kids, meetings or even working at your desk (many people now use standup desks).
So you see, you have complete control over your daily metabolism -- so go ahead and move it and lose it.
Bob Greene
Bob Greene on behalf of The Best Life
Physiology

First off, it's important to understand what metabolism is. It's the rate at which your body burns calories. The rate varies depending on what you're doing. For example, when you sleep, your metabolism burns calories at a slow rate, because you're at rest. When you exercise, however, your metabolism burns calories at a high rate because you're working hard - your heart is pumping, your muscles are contracting, and your breathing is rapid. How much your metabolism increases when you work out is directly related to your exercise's intensity. The longer and harder you work out, the higher your metabolism, and thus, the more calories you burn.

The key to weight loss then is to elevate your metabolic rate as much as possible. That's why you should perform regular intense aerobic activity at least three days a week, and some kind of activity every day, even if it's simply walking around the neighborhood. When you exercise regularly, you gradually increase your metabolism so it stays elevated for longer stretches of time. The result: More fat burned and more weight dropped.

There's no way to directly measure how your metabolic rate changes from workout to workout, but a good gauge is how you sweat. As you burn calories at a higher rate, you'll begin to perspire sooner into your workout and more than usual. It's a simple formula to follow: Keep your metabolic rate up and lose weight; let it drop and body fat increases.

 

Continue Learning about Metabolism and Weight Loss

How does not eating enough fat affect my metabolism?
Dr. Mark Hyman, MDDr. Mark Hyman, MD
Eating good fat actually speeds up your metabolism; when you don't eat enough fat, your body switche...
More Answers
Why Do Some People Stay Skinny?
Why Do Some People Stay Skinny?
How Does Not Eating Enough Fat Affect My Metabolism?
How Does Not Eating Enough Fat Affect My Metabolism?
Dr. Caroline Apovian - Are there all natural supplements to speed metabolism and weight loss?
Dr. Caroline Apovian - Are there all natural supplements to speed metabolism and weight loss?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.