If you're trying to lose weight, increasing your metabolism can enable you to lose more weight without cutting more calories. The first commercialism surrounding "metabolism-enhancing products" has made it difficult to separate fact from fiction (or advertising), but here you can find a few research-based suggestions.
1. Understand what metabolism is. In the simplest terms, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. Very few people have a fast metabolism, and overweight individuals generally have slow metabolisms because their fat cells are consuming energy. However, a faster metabolism will enable you to lose more weight than your friend, even if you both have the same activity level, diet, and weight.
2. Determine what is influencing your metabolism. There are some factors that you can change, and some factors that you can't.
- Age - metabolism decreases five percent per decade after age 40
- Sex - men generally burn calories more quickly than women because they have more muscle tissue
- Heredity - you can inherit your metabolic rate from previous generations
- Thyroid disorder - hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can slow down or speed up metabolism, but only 3 and .3 percent of the population have hypo- and hyperthyroidism.
3. Calculate your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is often used interchangeably with basal metabolic rate (BMR); although they are slightly different, estimating either is sufficient for the purpose of losing weight. To calculate your RMR, use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (which is more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation). There are also calculators online that can do this for you:
- RMR = 9.99w + 6.25s - 4.92a + 166g-161
- w = weight in kilograms; if you know your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms
- s = height in centimeters; if you know your height in inches, multiply by 2.54 to get your height in centimeters
- a = age in years
- g = gender = 1 for males, 0 for females
4. Adjust your diet accordingly. Your RMR will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your body at rest. Your daily consumption to maintain your weight should be:
- RMR x 1.15
- E.g. RMR = 2000, so the maintenance intake is 2000 x 1.15 = 2300
To lose weight safely, do not exceed your maintenance intake or have a caloric intake lower than your calculated RMR.
- Count calories by recording what you eat and looking up how many calories each food item contains (either on the food packaging or in tables provided in books or online).
5. Eat small, frequent meals. Extending the time between meals makes your body go into "starvation mode," which decreases your metabolism as a means to conserve energy and prevent starvation. Skipping meals does not help you cut calories or lose weight; in fact, people generally eat less overall when they eat small, frequent meals. In addition to having four to six small meals per day eating healthy snacks will also increase metabolism.
6. Drink water. As with food, depriving your body of water can encourage it to "hoard" rather than "burn". More than ninety percent of the chemical reactions in your body occur in water, so make sure you drink an appropriate amount of water.
7.Boost metabolism temporarily with aerobic exercise. Different activities burn different quantities of calories, but the important thing is to raise your heart rate and sustain the activity for approximately thirty minutes.
8. Boost metabolism in the long run with weight training. Muscle burns more calories than fat does (73 more calories per kilogram per day, to be exact) so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. Every muscle cell that you gain is like a little factory that constantly burns calories for you, even while you sleep, and revs up when you exercise. This is the only way to increase RMR, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn daily.
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