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Factors That Affect Metabolism

Posted on February 3, 2016 at 11:04 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

You hear this word thrown around constantly in the health and fitness world, but do you really know what it means? I often hear people tell me that they don’t have a metabolism; "it doesn’t exist." I promise you, we all have a metabolism! It is necessary for basic human life, and without it we would be dead. It is true that some individuals may have a slower metabolism than others due to a multitude of factors, but it does exist!

Your basic metabolic rate, or BMR, is the minimum number of calories needed to function - or how many calories you burn at rest. Think of the basics such as breathing, cell turnover, and blood circulation – all of these require calories. Your BMR makes up around 60 - 70% of the calories you expend.

So what factors affect metabolism? Let’s take a look:

Body Size: Larger individuals will have a greater BMR due to increased organ size and fluid space.

Gender: Men generally have a larger muscle mass than women, leading to a greater energy burn.

Age: As we get older our metabolic rate decreases due to a decrease in muscle tissue, as well as other hormonal and neurological changes.

Physical Activity: It is true that exercise can benefit your metabolism. Muscle requires more energy to function than fat, increasing your BMR as you gain more muscle. Benefits come from regular exercise (consistency is key) and weight training. Cardio is beneficial for your heart, but a combination of cardio and weight training is the most beneficial.

Compared pound to pound, muscle and fat weigh the same, however there is a large difference between the two. While one pound of muscle may weigh the same as one pound of fat, muscle is more dense and takes up less space than fat. Muscle oxidizes fat at rest, and with exercise, meaning that regular exercise can give muscles a boost in fat oxidation making it easier to maintain or lose weight.

So, simply stated, start increasing your activity and you’ll increase your metabolism. If you sit most of the day, add in a 10-minute walk. If you generally go to the gym and hang out on the treadmill, take 10 minutes and start exploring the weights. There are generally weight machines that you can start with if you don’t feel comfortable with free-weights and you can always ask for assistance at the gym. 

The key is to start somewhere!

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