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Articles and videos pertaining to weight-loss and diets often refer to dieting methods, low-calorie foods and exercise regimens. But no one really talks about metabolism, metabolic rates and their connection with losing weight or at least to keeping it in check.

Metabolism refers to the physical and chemical processes that happen naturally in our bodies in order to sustain life like breathing, tissue repair, digestion, the beating of the heart, thinking, laughing or really any sort of activity.

During this process, some of the nutrients we consume are broken down and moved around the body to provide energy for these processes and others are synthesized to help build new cells. Metabolic rate is the energy consumed during the metabolism process.

People’s metabolisms vary and the average calorie requirement is based upon a person’s body weight, gender, genetics, height and activity level. So to manage body weight and have enough energy for exercise, it’s helpful to understand your unique daily caloric requirements. These different requirements can be broken down into:

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): BMR is the number of calories a body uses to maintain essential life processes. To find out your BMR, it is important to know how many calories you need to maintain a healthy body weight. Your body requires 70% of the total calories consumed. So if you just sat around on the couch all day, the BMR would be around 800-1000kcal per day. You can calculate your BMR here.

Activity Calorie Requirements: If you don’t just sit on the couch all day and are moderately active, you will burn additional calories through movement, activity and exercise. For many of us, this makes up about 30% of our total daily calorie expenditure.

Now there are a few ways metabolic rate or BMR is different for different people.

  • Some people naturally have a higher metabolism
  • After the age of 40, one’s metabolism tends to drop about 5% each decade. This unfortunately means that as you grown older, your body needs more exercise!
  • A cruel fact of nature is that men tend to burn more calories than women. But women can take heart of the fact that they generally happen to be far more active than their male counterparts and that too all 7 days a week!
  • Height matters! Taller people tend to have a higher metabolism than shorter people
  • Those with more muscle or body weight tend to have a higher BMR than thin people
  • The more you move, the higher your BMR
  • Stress levels also affect the metabolic rate. Constant anxiety can cause the adrenal gland to pump out too much cortisol. High levels of the stress hormone change how your metabolism stores fat, sending flab to the belly, where it affects vital organs

However, there are ways to pep up your BMR:

  1. Be more active
  2. A 45-minute high-intensity workout can help increase your BMR by 37% for up to 14 hours after your workout
  3. Doing short workouts every evening before dinner, like a brisk 15-minute walk, breathing exercises, climbing steps or pilates can keep your metabolic rate high even while you sleep
  4. As you age, you start to lose some muscle mass. Strength training or lifting weights helps you maintain and build on what you have, so your metabolism stays high
  5. Sleeping well is very important. As few as two sleepless nights can mess with your metabolism — increasing levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. Also, sleep debt causes insulin resistance, interfering with how your metabolism processes fat which leads to weight gain
  6. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels, keeping your metabolism humming. Plus, antioxidants in fruit and vegetables help your body get rid of free radicals. Free radicals can harm healthy cells—cells your body needs to keep your metabolism going strong. Unwanted weight and health complications can result. Aim to consume 25gm to 30gm of fiber per day
  7. Eating early dinner before 7pm or by 7pm goes a long way in keeping off weight and especially belly flab. If you can’t stick to the deadline, then make sure that you consume a high-fiber and high-protein dinner in moderate quantity
  8. Mind your posture while both sitting and standing. It is important to sit straight and maintain your posture all through the day. This will help prevent a ‘all thin and only belly’ figure and will also pep up the metabolism

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