Have you ever heard someone explain their recent weight gain by saying they have a slow metabolism? While it’s true that weight and metabolism are linked, it may not be in the way you expect. In fact, slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Ultimately, food and beverage intake and physical activity determine how much a person weighs.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to operate. Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for functions like breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.
How Your Basal Metabolic Rate Influences Your Health
The number of calories your body uses to carry out basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR)—what you might call metabolism. To put it simply, this is the amount of fuel you need to get by each day to maintain your current weight. People with a high metabolism naturally burn more calories during this process than people with a low metabolism.
Several factors determine your individual basal metabolic rate:
- Body size and composition: The bodies of people who are larger or have more muscle burn up more calories, even at rest.
- Sex: Men usually have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight. As a result, men burn more calories.
- Age: As you get older, your muscle mass tends to decrease, and fat accounts for more of your weight. This slows down calorie burning.
When you weigh more, your metabolism is actually higher. Think about it in terms like this: if you were 50 pounds lighter, your metabolism doesn’t have to carry around that 50 extra pounds that you currently carry. Since metabolism decreases when you lose weight, you have to focus on counteracting it with protein. Stick to at least one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, that’s at least 100 grams of protein a day. This will help you maintain a good part of your muscle mass.
How to Transform Your Metabolism
Your body’s basic energy needs aren’t easily changed. In other words, it isn’t necessarily easy to increase metabolism and prevent your body from going back to its set point weight. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75 percent of the calories you burn every day. But there are other factors that determine how many calories your body burns each day:
- Food processing (thermogenesis): Digesting, absorbing, transporting, and storing the food you consume also takes calories. This accounts for about 10 percent of the calories used each day. For the most part, your body’s energy requirement to process food stays relatively steady and isn’t easily changed.
- Physical activity: Physical activity and exercise—such as playing tennis, walking to the store, chasing after the dog, and any other movement—account for the rest of the calories your body burns up each day.
Increasing physical activity will often yield better results than seeking ways to increase metabolism. That said, we can find ways to maximize the metabolism we have by constantly sending queues to the brain that it needs to burn energy and not conserve it. This is why consuming small, frequent meals is so important.
We recommend eating three small meals and two small snacks a day. Incorporate at least two 30-gram servings of protein into your daily diet, a practice known as protein chunking. This can be achieved with chicken breast, tofu, tuna fish, Greek yogurt, or a high-protein shake. This won’t help you increase your metabolic rate, but it will help balance the way your body processes food. It will also prevent your body from going into a fat-preserving state that can occur with prolonged fasts.
Because hormones play a huge role in regulating metabolism, controlling your hormonal balance can be very important for weight loss. In particular, men struggling with weight issues should focus on boosting their testosterone levels. When given by a physician at the right dose, testosterone can enhance not only metabolism but aid in the treatment of depression, concentration, and sexual function. Using bioidentical hormones to deliver testosterone can also increase muscle mass, improve focus, and reduce fatigue.
Master Your Metabolism: The Pathway to Ideal Weight
To lose weight, it’s necessary to create an energy deficit by optimizing your metabolism, eating fewer calories, and increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity. However, it’s crucial to understand that weight loss extends beyond the simple ‘calories in, calories out’ equation—it’s also significantly influenced by the hormonal changes that occur in your body. To effectively navigate this, you must equip yourself with the right strategies to mitigate these hormonal fluctuations.
Why should you care so much about improving your metabolic process? Because it can help prevent and manage chronic weight-related diseases like hypertension, diabetes, prediabetes, and sleep apnea. It also reduces fatigue, restores energy levels, boosts your mood, and enhances your overall sense of well-being—and who wouldn’t want that?