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Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Importance of Metabolism to Weight Loss

People often blame their slow metabolism as the reason for their weight but. What is less understood is exactly what this means. Assuming a slow metabolism really is to blame for weight gain, the question it what can be done to speed up your metabolism and in the process burn more calories.

The little known fact is that a so called slow metabolism is very unlikely to be the reason for being overweight. The more likely explanation is the the quality and quantity of the fuel is being supplied to your body's energy system and how much fuel is being burn through activity.

Metabolism is the process by which fuel is "metabolised" by the body to convert into available energy. During this biochemical process, calories found in food and drink are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. It is not only during physical activity that energy is consumed. Even when your body is resting, the body needs energy to perform all its subconscious functions such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the amount of calories your body uses to perform these basic functions. Energy needs for basic functions of your body to remain fairly constant and not easily changed. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75 percent of the calories you burn each day. Individuals will have differing metabolic rates based on a range of factors.

Their body size (muscles) and body type: People who have larger muscular frames will burn more calories even at rest.

Gender: men usually have more muscle and less body fat than women of similar age and weight ans will therefore burn more calories.

Age. With age the amount of muscle will decrease relative to fat and will thus slow the burning of calories.

Apart from basal metabolic rate, there are two other factors which will determine the amount of calories your body burns each day:

Thermogenesis refers to the digestion, absorption, transportation, and storage of food you eat. This represents process surprisingly accounts for around 10 percent of calories consumed each day. Theis energy processing system stays relatively stable and not easily changed.

Physical activity such as running, swimming, tennis, walking to the store, cycling account for large proportion of the calories your body burns every day.

So as tempting as it may be blaming your slow metabolism to gain weight there are too many other variables at play to use this argument. Since metabolism is a natural process, it adjusts itself to meet individual energy needs. This explains why starvation diets are ineffective as the body compensates by reducing the metabolic rate in order to conserve calories in order to survive. There is however one medical condition know as Cushing's syndrome which causes weight gain, but this is pretty rare. Likewise thyroid gland disease (hypothyroidism) can also explain some cases of weight gain but will be the exception.

Ultimately weight gain is the result of eating more calories than you burn. To lose weight you need to create an energy deficit by eating fewer calories and/or increasing your physical activity to burn more calories.

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