Your metabolic rate determines how quickly your body processes energy from food and beverages. Ultimately, someone with a higher metabolic rate burns more calories than someone with a slower metabolism. Although genetics play a large role in your metabolic speed, the choices you make every day determine whether or not you use all of the calories you consume. Talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet or starting a weight loss plan.
Metabolism and Calories
During calorie metabolism, your body combines food and beverages with oxygen to access the energy stored within them. A calorie is a measurement that describes how much energy is stored in the food; for example, a 150-calorie bag of potato chips provides more energy than a 100-calorie banana. You use this energy for basic functions such as breathing and circulation, as well as for exercise and daily tasks.
High Metabolism Factors
Your metabolism is largely genetic, which is one reason some people seem to be able to eat all the calories they want without gaining weight. In general, men have higher metabolisms than women, as they have more muscle tissue — your body burns more calories maintaining muscle than fat. Your metabolic rate also slows down with age, mainly because muscle tissue gradually decreases as you grow older.
Increasing Metabolic Rate
If you long for a higher metabolic rate, physical activity is your most effective strategy. Strength-training activities, such as lifting weights and doing push-ups, build muscle mass to help you burn more calories throughout the day, while cardio exercises burn significant calories while you move. Lifting heavier weights builds more muscle, while vigorous cardio activities such as running and swimming laps burn the most immediate calories.
The American Council on Exercise also recommends boosting your metabolism with non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. NEAT activities include shaking your leg, wiggling your fingers or simply standing up, and ACE claims that you might increase your daily calorie burning by 15 to 50 percent with these activities. While NEAT doesn’t replace exercise, a 155-pound person can burn an extra 50 calories per hour by simply standing rather than sitting while performing computer work, according to James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic.
No matter how high or low your metabolism is, your volume of food intake ultimately determines whether or not you burn all of the calories you consume. Most moderately active women use between 1,800 and 2,200 calories each day, while most moderately active men burn between 2,200 and 2,800 calories a day. When you eat more calories than you burn, your body converts the excess to fat and stores it as reserve energy. An excess of 3,500 calories leads to about 1 pound of added body fat, while a 3,500-calorie deficit causes you to lose about 1 pound.
References & Resources
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- McKinley Health Center: Breaking Down Your Metabolism
- American Council on Exercise: Burn More Calories On the Job
- FamilyDoctor.org: Nutrition: Determine Your Calorie Needs
- University of San Diego: Revelle College: Physical Fitness
- KVAL.com: A Few Unique Ways to Burn Extra Calories — NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)