Metabolism is the chemical engine that keeps us alive. The speed at which it runs varies according to the individual. People with a slow metabolism tend to have more leftover fuel (calories), which is stored as fat. On the other hand, people who have a fast metabolism burn more calories and are less likely to accumulate a large amount of fat. We bring you some reasons why some people have a fast metabolism and how you can speed up the metabolism to burn more calories.
What is the Metabolism?
Metabolism is a term that collectively refers to all chemical processes that unfold in the body. The faster the metabolism, the more calories the body will need to function. This is the reason why some people can eat a lot without gaining weight, while others seem to need fewer calories and accumulate fat. The “metabolism rate” is commonly known as metabolic rate. It is the number of calories burned in a certain amount of time, also known as calorie expenditure.
The Metabolic Rate Can Be Divided into Several Categories:
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR): The metabolic rate when you are sleeping or in a deep rest. It is the minimum metabolic rate necessary to keep the body warm, the lungs breathing, the heart pumping and the brain functioning.
- Metabolic resting rate (TMR): The minimum metabolic rate required to keep us alive and functioning while we are resting. On average, it represents up to 50-75% of total calorie expenditure.
- Thermal Effect of Food (ETA): The number of calories burned when the body is digesting and processing food. The increase in metabolic rate after meals usually represents about 10% of total energy expenditure.
- Thermal effect of exercise (ETE): The number of calories burned during exercise.
- Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (TANE): The number of calories burned during activities other than exercise. This includes worrying, changing posture, standing and walking around.
Summary: The metabolic rate is also known as caloric expenditure. It is the number of calories used by the body in a given amount of time.
What Factors Affect the Metabolic Rate?
Numerous factors affect your metabolic rate. So, we will name some:
- Age: As we get older, the slower the metabolic rate becomes. This is one of the reasons why people tend to gain weight as they get older.
- Muscle mass: The higher the muscle mass, the more calories it will burn.
- Body size: The bigger you are, the more calories you burn.
- Ambient temperature: When the body is exposed to cold, it needs to burn more calories to prevent body temperature from decreasing.
- Physical activity: All body movements require calories. The more active you are, the more calories you will burn. Consequently, the metabolism will accelerate.
- Hormonal disorders: Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism reduce the metabolic rate and increase the risk of weight gain.
Summary: Several factors affect the metabolic rate, or the number of calories burned. These include age, muscle mass, body size and physical activity.
Are Some People Born with a Rapid Metabolism?
Metabolic rates vary in each person, even when they are newborns. In other words, some people are born with a faster metabolism than others.
“Although genetics can contribute to these differences, scientists disagree as the metabolic rate is affected by weight gain and obesity”.
Interestingly, most studies show that obese people have a higher total and resting metabolic rate, compared to healthy weight individuals. Researchers have pointed out that this is because obese people have a greater amount of muscles to help support the extra weight. However, some studies indicate that obese people have higher metabolic rates, regardless of the amount of muscle mass they have. On the contrary, other studies show that previously obese people have a metabolic rate of 3-8% lower, on average, than those who have never been obese. One thing is clear – not everyone is the same when it comes to the metabolic rate. Most of this variation is due to people’s age, as well as their environment and behavior. However, the role of genetics in these individual differences needs to be studied further.
Summary: Metabolic rates vary by individual, even among infants. However, it is not clear how much of this variation is due to genetics.
Metabolic adaptation, also known as adaptive thermogenesis or “starvation mode,” can also play an important role in the development of obesity. The starvation mode is the body’s response to a calorie deficit. When you don’t get enough food, try to compensate for it by reducing the metabolic rate and the number of calories burned. The extent to which the metabolic rate decreases during caloric restriction and weight loss is highly variable among individuals. This metabolic deceleration is more pronounced in some people, especially those who are obese. The greater the slowdown, the harder it is to lose weight with diet or fasting. The starvation mode is probably affected in part by genetics, but previous attempts at weight loss or physical fitness could also influence.
Summary: Metabolic adaptation or hunger mode is when the metabolic rate slows down during a reduced calorie diet or a fast. It varies among people and tends to be more pronounced among obese individuals.
Can you Speed Up Your Metabolism to Lose Weight?
Weight loss is not just about eating fewer calories. Effective weight loss programs also include strategies to speed up metabolism. Fortunately, there are several ways to do it. Below are eight simple methods:
1. Move the Body:
All body movement burns calories. The more active you are, the higher the metabolic rate. Even a very basic activity, such as standing up regularly, walking or doing housework, makes a big difference in the long run. This increase in metabolic rate is technically known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (TANE). In severely obese individuals, TANE can represent a significant part of daily caloric expenditure due to the additional burden they have to bear. There are several ways in which you can increase the TANE. If you spend a lot of time sitting, here are some strategies:
- Stand up regularly and walk.
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Do housework.
- Make agitated movements, such as bouncing your legs or touching your fingers.
- Chew gum without calories.
- Use a standing table.
- If you have a desk job, using a standing desk you can increase the number of calories you burn by 16%.
Another study showed that spending an extra 174 calories burns while standing up compared to sitting. Even seemingly insignificant activities such as writing can increase the metabolic rate by 8%, compared to doing nothing. In the same way, restlessness can make a significant difference. One study found that people who sat motionless for 20 minutes temporarily increased their calorie expenditure by 4%, compared to when they lay still. On the contrary, moving while sitting increased caloric expenditure by a huge 54%. Regular exercise is highly recommended for anyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health. But even light activities such as walking around, doing housework or being restless can give you a long-term advantage.
Summary: The more you move your body, the higher your metabolic rate. If you have a desk job, you can improve your metabolic rate by walking regularly, chewing gum or using a standing desk.
2. Do High Intensity Exercises:
One of the most effective forms of exercise is high intensity workouts, also known as high intensity interval training (EIAI). The EIAI is when the exercise involves fast and very intense episodes of activity, such as Sprint or fast push-ups. This really speeds up the metabolism, even after the training is over – the “the subsequent one” has a doubled effect.
Summary: High intensity interval training is one of the most effective ways to increase metabolic rate and burn more calories.
3. Power Train:
Another excellent way to speed up the metabolic rate is the power train. In addition to the direct effect of the exercise itself, strength exercises promote the growth of muscle mass. The amount of muscle you have is directly associated with the metabolic rate. Unlike fat mass, muscle mass significantly increases the number of calories burned at rest. One study showed that doing strength exercises for 11 minutes a day, three times a week, resulted in an average 7.4% increase in resting metabolic rate after half a year. This resulted in 125 additional calories burned per day. Advanced age is usually associated with muscle loss and metabolic rate drops, but regular strength exercise can partially counteract this adverse effect. Similarly, a reduction in calories, weight loss or dieting often causes loss of muscle mass and lowers the metabolic rate. Again, strength training can help prevent this decrease. In fact, a study conducted on overweight women showed strength exercises during a low-calorie diet of 800 calories a day avoided decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate, compared to those who did not exercise or do aerobic exercise. Strength training can increase the metabolic rate by promoting the growth of muscle mass. It can even counteract the drop in metabolic rate associated with aging and low-calorie diets.
4. Eat Proteins:
Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential if you want to build or maintain muscle mass. But dietary protein also has other important qualities. All foods lead to a temporary increase in metabolic rate, known as the thermal effect of food (ETA). However, this effect is much stronger after eating protein than after eating carbohydrates or fat. In fact, protein increases the metabolic rate by 20-30%, while carbohydrates and fat cause an increase of 3-10% or less. This increase in caloric expenditure can help promote weight loss or prevent weight recovery after a weight loss diet. The ETA is higher in the morning, or during the first hours after waking up. For this reason, eating a large proportion of daily calories early in the day can maximize the effect. Eating large amounts of protein can also help counteract the loss of muscle mass and the slowdown in the metabolic rate associated with weight loss.
Summary: Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential to increase or maintain muscle mass and metabolic rate.
5. Do Not Go Hungry:
Although eating less is a key method for weight loss, eating too little is usually counterproductive in the long term. This is because calorie restriction causes a decrease in metabolic rate or the number of calories burned. This effect is known as “response to hunger” or metabolic adaptation. It is the body’s way to avoid hunger and a potential death. Research shows that eating less than 1,000 calories daily leads to a significant drop in the metabolic rate that is maintained after the weight loss diet. Studies in obese people suggest that the response to hunger can significantly reduce the number of calories burned. For example, one study suggests this slowdown in the metabolic rate saves up to 504 calories per day. Interestingly, intermittent fasting seems to minimize this effect.
Summary: Sustained caloric restriction slows the metabolic rate. This effect has been called the “response to hunger.”
6. Drink Water:
Temporarily increasing the metabolic rate is complicated. It is as simple as going for a walk or drinking a glass of cold water. Many studies show that drinking water leads to an increase in the number of calories burned, an effect known as water-induced thermogenesis. Drinking cold water has an even greater effect than hot water, since this requires the body to decrease the cold until it reaches body temperature. Studies on this phenomenon have provided diverse results. About 16 ounces (half a liter) of cold water can cause an increase between 5 and 30% in the number of calories burned for 60 to 90 minutes later. It seems that the increase in water consumption is also beneficial for the waist. Several studies show that drinking 34 to 50 ounces (1-1.5 liters) of water a day can eventually lead to significant weight loss. The benefits of drinking water before meals can be maximized, as it also increases the feeling of fullness and reduces calorie intake.
Summary: Drinking more water improves the metabolic rate and even over time can lead to weight loss. Cold water is the most effective.
7. Drink Caffeinated Drinks:
Although pure water is good by itself, drinks with low caffeine content, such as coffee or green tea, are also useful. Controlled studies show that drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily accelerate the metabolic rate by 3 or 11%. However, this effect is less in obese people, as well as in the elderly. In addition, experienced coffee drinkers may have accumulated resistance to their effects. For weight loss purposes, sugar-free drinks like normal black coffee are the best. As with water, cold coffee can be even more advantageous.
Summary: Drinking caffeinated drinks can temporarily increase your metabolic rate.
8. Enough Hours of Sleep:
Having an inadequate sleep is not only bad for overall health; it can also slow down the metabolic rate and increase the risk of gaining weight. One study showed that the metabolic rate decreased 2.6% when healthy adults slept only four hours a night for five days in a row. Another five-week study found that sustained sleep disruption, along with irregular sleep times, reduced resting metabolic rate on average by 8%. Consequently, lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity.
Summary: Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality can lower the metabolic rate. For a healthy metabolism, you should try to get enough sleep hours of calm and uninterrupted sleep.
Take the Message Home:
Although the basal metabolic rate is largely out of people’s control, there are several ways to increase the number of calories burned. The strategies mentioned in this article can give you a significant advantage in your battle against obesity.