What Is My Metabolism And How Can I Increase It?

If you are like many people, you are probably asking yourself, "I wonder how I can increase my metabolism and lose weight."

Or you might have heard about your metabolism and how it affects your body, but perhaps you didn't quite understand what it is or how it works.

If you are over 40, then you have certainly heard that, unless you increase your metabolism, you can't lose weight.

We are going to explain what the body's metabolism is, what it does, what affects it, and how you can manipulate it to help you lose weight.

Kid eating foodYour metabolism converts the food and liquids you eat and drink into energy

What Is My Metabolism and What Does It Do?

In a nutshell, your metabolism is a biochemical process that controls many functions in the body. One of the main functions of your metabolism is to convert the food and liquids you consume into available energy. Even when you are simply watching television, your body is still carrying out functions that require energy, such as breathing, digestion, thinking, and circulating your blood.

All of these basic functions require calories, similar to the way your car needs gas to move. The number of calories your body needs to operate these function every day is called your basal metabolic rate or BMR. Alternately, it can be said that the BMR is the minimum amount of calories the body need to function at rest.

Use this calculator to find out the TOTAL calories your body needs on a daily basis.

Metabolism Basics

Generally speaking, the energy needs for your body's day to day functions don't change much and can't be easily altered.

  • As much as 60-75% of the calories burned are for those everyday functions you don’t think about like breathing, swallowing, blood circulation, etc.
  • Another 10% is spent simply through the process of eating and digestion.
  • The other 15 to 30% comes from our physical activity (or lack of it)

How Your BMR is Determined

You might know some friends who seem to eat anything and everything, yet never gain an ounce. This is likely due to a very high metabolism. How does the body determine what the correct metabolism level is for you?

  • Your Sex - Men tend to have a higher metabolism because they have more muscle and lower levels of body fat. More muscle means a higher metabolism.
  • Your Age - As we age, most people lose muscle and gain fat. This lowers the metabolism. A person’s BMR typically begins to slow by 1-2% each decade after age 20.
  • Body Size and Composition - People who are larger (taller or those with large bone structures) tend to have higher metabolisms. Also, as we mentioned earlier, those who have more muscles and less fat also have higher metabolisms. Some of these things, such as how tall you are, are genetic and cannot be changed; however, others are completely under your control.

How to Measure Your BMR

Use this formula to measure your BMR:

  • Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.2 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age in years )
  • Women: BMR = 655.1 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )

What does this mean?

For example, if you were 6’ and weighed 200 lbs, the amount of calories your body needs at rest is 2,017 calories.

Increasing your metabolism with exercise

The amount of physical activity is the most variable factor that will determine how many calories your body needs and burns each day. Exercise will greatly increase your metabolic rate, even after you have finished working out!

Aerobic activity, such a walking, jogging, Zumba, and dancing burn calories.

I.E; a 200lbs man will burn 250 calories for jogging 30 minutes.

Challenge your muscles

Incorporate weight training to increase your metabolismBuilding more muscle with strength training will naturally rev up your metabolism

While you don't have to exercise to increase your metabolism, remember that having more muscle will naturally rev up your metabolism, making it run higher 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is especially true for those over 40 and 50 as physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30.

Try adding two days of strength training (weight lifting) to increase your overall muscle mass. Muscles are sore after resistance training due to tiny tears in the muscle tissue. While this sounds harmful, this is actually a good thing. Over the next two to three days post-workout, your body will heal the broken-down tissue, and build new, stronger muscles. This rebuilding process requires an extra energy requirement that increases your calorie burn by 5 to 9 percent!

Don't forget to challenge your muscles! This means increasing the weight by a pound or two when you can complete all reps without your muscles becoming sore or tired after you have finished your weight lifting sets.

How Do I Increase My Metabolism Naturally for Weight Loss?

How to boost your metabolism

As we mentioned above, simply increasing your metabolism won't be enough to get you a bikini ready body this summer or even next year. However, when used in combination with diet, supplements, and exercise, it all adds up to significant weight loss.

Let's take a look at the best ways to increase your metabolism without exercise.

  1. Support the Thyroid Gland
    Your thyroid produces hormones which control the body's metabolism. Any dysfunction of your thyroid can lead to weight gain, even though no extra calories are consumed. Iodine is the substance that helps your thyroid function properly. You can get more iodine naturally from seaweed, kelp, shrimp, seafood such as oysters, cranberries, and baked potatoes.
  2. Thermogenics
    There are two types of thermogenics, phytochemicals and spices. These compounds are well known for increasing the metabolism by adding natural fuel to your metabolism's fire. Green and black tea, dark cocoa, and fava beans are all examples of themogenic phytochemicals. Thermogenic spices are found in hot chili peppers, red peppers, black peppers, et. If you love your food hot and spicy, this is a great way to naturally turn up the heat and help your body burn more calories.
  3. White Mulberry
    The extract from white mulberry tree leaves appears to greatly accelerate the metabolism. Studies have found that those who consumed 2400mg of white mulberry extract lost considerably more weight than those who consumed a placebo.
  4. Calcium
    You might think of calcium as only something that concerns your bones and teeth, but this mineral also regulates the fat metabolism in the body. Be sure to add dairy products to your diet, or, add plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, that also contain calcium. Many commercially made almond milks and rice milks contain added calcium.
  5. Glutamine
    This compound will not only speed up the metabolism, but it has also been shown in studies to increase muscle mass. The more muscle, the naturally higher your metabolism will run. This is a good way to increase the metabolism after 40,when muscle mass tends to decrease.
  6. Guarana
    This plant, native to Brazil and the Amazon, is very high in caffeine, theophylline,and theobromine, which are similar to caffeine. These promote fat burning by speeding up the metabolism and delaying when the stomach empties. This means you will feel full for a longer period of time. This can help burn more calories, as well as limit snacking.
  7. Super Foods
    Some foods are better at increasing the metabolism and burning fat than others. One should never downplay or eliminate super foods if you want to increase your metabolism without exercise. Some of the best super foods around are garlic, beets, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, kelp, and blueberries.
  8. Supplements for an Increased Metabolism
    Some of the best ways to increase the metabolism without exercise are found in natural supplements. Keep in mind that more is not necessarily better. Take supplements according to directions. The best metabolism boosting supplements are moringa, wheatgrass or wheatgrass juice, spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae.

Don't forget that while you should cut back on calories, you still need to eat enough to keep your metabolism running high. Without enough fuel, your body will lower your metabolism as a means of self-preservation.

One last note; don't forget to get a good night's sleep. Your body's metabolism is "reset" each night while you sleep. If you skimp on sleep, your body's metabolism easily becomes confused and might end up running on the slow side. Try to keep a regular schedule and get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Don't keep your cell phone by the bed, either. Those white screens tend to interrupt our sleep hormones and make it harder to fall asleep.