Don’t blame your weight gain on your slow metabolism. Your weight gain is due to you eating more calories than you burn, or a caloric surplus. There are some medical exceptions to this rule but let’s not deal with those situations now. For most of us, we gain weight because we eat too much and exercise too little.
Having said that, you can burn more calories by speeding up your metabolism. This will help you burn fat and lose weight—and maintain weight.
You need to know your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the amount of daily calories your body needs to maintain itself. Said another way, it is the amount of calories your body would burn if you did nothing all day. Not everyone burns calories at the same rate. Some factors that influence the speed of your metabolism are:
1) Your age. Your metabolism will start to slow down in your 20s if you become a couch potato. Your metabolism may slow down about 5% per decade after age 30 if you are sedentary. Fad diets will also wreck your metabolism.
2) Gender. Men generally burn more calories at rest than women.
3) Your proportion of muscle mass to fat mass. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be.
4) Heredity also plays a part in your body’s rate of metabolism.
5) Thyroid problems may also cause your metabolism to slow down.
Fortunately, muscle mass can be maintained/increased (and body fat decreased) throughout your life through interval cardio and weight training. Weight training also helps to keep your bones strong (preventing osteoporosis).
My BMR is approximately 2000 calories, so if I consume 2000 daily calories I will burn fat and lose weight. This happens through exercise and daily activities which would allow me to maintain a caloric deficit.
One surprising thing about metabolism is this: the more you weigh, the faster your metabolism will be. This happens because your body must work harder to maintain itself. That is also why it is easier to lose weight in the beginning of a fat loss/weight loss program.
The overweight person’s metabolism is running so high that any cut in calories will result in quick weight losses. On the other hand, its easier for that person to regain the weight because her or his body now needs fewer calories to sustain itself.
Here are some facts about metabolism:
Fact #1 A slow or sluggish metabolism is not the major cause of weight gain.
A caloric imbalance is the cause of weight gain (consuming more calories than you burn in a day). If you have a slow or sluggish metabolism? A brisk 30 minute walk each day would get you started in the right direction to speed it up.
Fact #2 Lifting weights (or other resistance exercises) and cardio exercise will give you a higher metabolic rate.
Fact #3 Sweating is not a gauge of how many calories you are burning.
This may be bad news for sauna and steam room lovers! Weight loss or gain is a product of calories consumed or burned. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight and vice-versa.
Fact #4 The best time to exercise is whenever you have the most energy.
Working out at any time of the day will increase metabolism for several hours, depending on intensity.
Fact #5 Your metabolism doesn’t necessarily have to slow down as you get older. Again, a combination of circuit weight training and high intensity interval cardio will keep your metabolism “revved up” throughout your life.
Fact #6 Eating smaller, frequent meals will keep your metabolism “revved up” during the day. Eat every 3-4 hours. Your metabolism will slow down if there are too many hours between meals.
Fact #7 There is no significant evidence showing that eating certain foods/drinks such as peppers and green tea will speed your metabolism for a long period of time. Actually, any food will speed your metabolism within the first hour after you eat. A high-protein food might speed metabolism for a longer period of time since protein requires about 25% more energy to digest. Your best bet is to follow Fact #6 when it comes to eating.