metabolic rateA person’s metabolic rate is dependant on many things. Most of these factors are out of our control. However, the one’s that we can control are diet and, more importantly, exercise.

Many people are quick to say that their metabolism is the reason they cannot lose weight. Specifically, that it is bad genes contributing to bad metabolism. Well, these people are only about half right.

Around 50 – 80 % of a person’s metabolism is used just to keep the body functioning at a normal level. The rest is actually up to us.

Diet and exercise are the predominant factors when defining a person’s metabolic rate. Even though there are many factors that people can’t change to affect their metabolism, this article will focus on what metabolism is and how your level of activity can affect your metabolic rate.

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is described as “all chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism.” To put this in simpler terms and for the purposes of this article, we will be looking at it as burning calories to give the body the energy it needs.

The body can burn calories in the following ways:

  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) – When a person eats, they are using energy in their digestive tract to digest the food. Basically, you are burning more energy while eating  then you are with no food in your system.
  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – This metabolic rate is the most important because the body’s RMR accounts for around 65% of the calories the body burns during the day. The body’s RMR is the amount of calories burned just to keep the organs functioning, blood pumping, and anything else to simply keep the body alive while not in activity mode.
  • Physical Activity Energy Expenditure (PAEE) – This is the energy burned while doing any  physical activity. This does not mean just exercising, but any movement at all. Walking, doing the laundry, or anything involving activity is your PAEE.

All of these ways of burning calories can be changed to increase your metabolic rate. Changing your TEF will require you to increase your level of activity, which in turn, will increase your RMR. Therefore, the best way to increase your metabolic rate is to change your level of activity. By using specific exercises, you can burn fat and lose weight more easily.

Which Exercises to Use

While many people like to hop on the stationary bike, treadmill, or stairmaster for an hour or two, these exercises are not actually the best way to increase your metabolic rate.

Instead of endurance exercises, there are much more efficient activities that will affect your metabolic rate and allow you to burn more calories. Some of these exercises include:

  • Burst Exercises – These exercises are when a person works out using short, intense exercises instead of long, steady ones. Do exercises such as sprinting, jumping, or skipping rope for 30-90 seconds, resting for 60 seconds, and then repeating, for a total of 15 minutes per day. Muscles will be depleted of more glucose compared to endurance exercises. Replacing glucose in the muscles requires burning more energy.
  • Swimming – The same type of burst exercise can be applied to swimming. Instead of swimming for an extended period of time, do short, intense laps that leave you out of breath. Rest and then repeat for a total of 15 minutes.
  • Weight Training – Muscle requires more energy to function than fat. If a person has more muscle in their body, then the body will need to burn more calories to get back to its resting state. By putting on muscle weight instead of fat, the body will need to burn more energy to get back to its resting state.

Why You Should Balance Your Metabolic Rate

There are factors about your metabolic rate that you can’t control, such as age, height, gender, genetics, and hormones. They are what they are and there is nothing you can do to change them.

Exercise and diet are the factors that you can change. The level of activity in your life will affect your metabolic rate, which will make your body burn more calories and eventually balance your body’s set weight. While eating a balanced diet is important, the amount of exercise is equally important. This is called balancing your metabolic rate.

When people consume too much food compared to the amount of calories burned, it is called a positive energy balance. Most people that have found their “set point” will consume around the same amount of calories that they will burn with exercise and their resting metabolic rate. This is called a balanced energy.

A negative energy balance is when a person is burning more calories that they are consuming. However, while this may seem like the best option for losing weight, the body can go into a “conservation mode” and will cease burning fat to conserve energy.

When muscles are being used, they burn glucose. Burst exercises burn more glucose than endurance exercises and therefore require more energy to be replenished. By having more muscle than fat, your metabolic rate will increase to get itself back to normal after exercise.

The best way to balance your metabolic rate is to do burst exercises and gain muscle mass, while consuming enough calories from food to allow the body’s metabolism to be effective.

The body will burn more calories to get back to its resting state and it will eventually burn more calories overall, leading to a longer, healthier life!