How you burn calories and how your metabolism affects weight loss

You may have heard people say that they are overweight because their metabolism is slow, but what does that mean? Is the body’s metabolism really to blame? And if so, is it possible to speed up your metabolism to burn more calories?

It’s true that weight and metabolism are linked. But, contrary to what most people think, a slow metabolism rarely causes people to gain too much weight.

Even though your metabolism affects your body’s basic energy needs, your weight is mostly determined by how much you eat and drink and how much you move around.

How the body turns food into energy:

Metabolism is the process that turns the food and drink you eat and drink into energy in your body. During this complicated process, the calories in food and drinks are mixed with oxygen to give your body the energy it needs to work.

Even when you’re sleeping, your body needs energy to do all its “hidden” things, like breathing, pumping blood, balancing hormones, and making new cells and fixing old ones. Your basal metabolic rate, or what you might call metabolism, is the number of calories your body needs to do these basic things.

Your basal metabolism is based on a number of things, such as:

The size and make-up of your body. Even at rest, people who are bigger or have more muscle burn more calories.

Your sex. Men of the same age and weight tend to have less body fat and more muscle than women do. This means that men burn more calories.

Your age. As you get older, you tend to lose muscle and gain fat, which slows down the rate at which you burn calories.

The energy your body needs to do basic things stays pretty constant and isn’t easy to change.

Besides your basal metabolic rate, there are two other things that affect how many calories your body burns every day:

How food is made (thermogenesis). It also takes calories to digest, absorb, move, and store the food you eat. About 10% of the calories from the carbs and proteins you eat are used to break down the food and absorb the nutrients.

Do something active. The rest of the calories you burn each day come from physical activity and exercise, like playing tennis, walking to the store, chasing after the dog, and any other movement. By far, the most variable thing that affects how many calories you burn each day is how much you move around.

Scientists call everything you do during the day that isn’t exercise “nonexercise activity thermogenesis” (NEAT). This includes moving from one room to another, doing things like gardening, and even fidgeting. About 100 to 800 calories a day are burned through NEAT.

Weight and the metabolism:

It may be tempting to blame weight gain on your metabolism. But because metabolism is a natural process, your body has a lot of ways to control it and make it work for you.

When you have a medical problem that slows your metabolism, like Cushing’s syndrome or an underactive thyroid gland, you may gain a lot of weight, but it doesn’t happen very often (hypothyroidism).

Putting on weight is a complicated process, which is a shame. It’s probably a mix of your genes, how your hormones work, what you eat, and how your sleep, exercise, and stress levels are affected by your environment.

All of these things cause the energy equation to be out of balance. When you eat more calories than you burn or burn less calories than you eat, you gain weight.

Even though it seems like some people can lose weight faster and easier than others, everyone loses weight when they burn more calories than they eat. To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit. You can do this by eating fewer calories or by burning more calories through exercise, or you can do both.

A closer look at exercise and the metabolism:

You don’t have much say over how fast your basal metabolism works, but you can change how many calories you burn by how active you are. More calories are burned when you do more things. Some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active and may fidget more than others.

Aerobic exercise, like walking, bicycling, and swimming, is the most effective way to burn calories. As a general goal, try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.

If you want to lose weight or reach certain fitness goals, you may need to spend even more time working out. If you don’t have time for a longer workout, try doing 10 minutes of activity every hour. Remember that the benefits are greater the more you do.

Experts also say to do strength training at least twice a week, like lifting weights. Strength training is important because it helps you build muscle. More calories are burned by muscle than by fat.

The more you move, the more calories you burn. Find ways to walk and move around for a few more minutes each day than you did the day before. Simple ways to burn more calories are to take the stairs more often and park farther away at the store. Even things like gardening, car washing, and housework burn calories and help you lose weight.

No miracle cure:

Don’t try to lose weight or burn calories with the help of supplements. Products that say they can speed up your metabolism are often more of a gimmick than a real help, and some of them may even cause unwanted or even dangerous side effects.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies that make dietary supplements to prove that their products are safe or effective. If you take supplements, you should always tell your doctor.

There is no easy way to drop pounds. Diet and exercise are still the two most important parts of losing weight. If you eat less than you burn, you will lose weight.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds (0.5 to 0.7 kilogrammes) a week, you should cut your calories by 500 to 700 a day. If you can find ways to move more during the day, you’ll reach your weight-loss goals even faster.

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