What is Metabolic Rate?


What is Metabolic Rate?

by Corey Hinde

I have had this conversation with so many people that it drives me nutty. People need to know what metabolism (or metabolic rate) is.

Your metabolism accounts for around 70% of the calories your body burns each day. Physical activity and other small factors account for the rest. Note that your metabolism accounts for at least DOUBLE what your physical activity does in terms of calories burned.

What is it though? Your metabolic rate is the sum total of a whole bunch of things that happen in your body. Every bodily function uses calories up, and your metabolic rate is the total of these. For example: heart beating, breathing, digestion, muscle activity while resting, cellular activity and reactions, brain activity.

The tricky thing is that your brain can change your metabolism. This happens for a variety of reasons. The most common is the starvation response. When you don't eat, or you go on STUPID DIETS, your body is a step ahead of you and simply slows the metabolism down. The body is very good at preserving itself. Any drastic change to calorie intake will spark this response.

Typically we see women who are mildly or even very active, who struggle to lose weight. Their body has had years of diets and their metabolism has really slowed down to protect itself because as far as your body knows, you are starving and any calories that are eaten are needed for later.

Now if you have a suspicion that you have a slowed metabolic rate, what can you do?

The key tips are these:

Give up any diets
Eat small meals, very frequently. Try eating small amounts at least every 4 hours through the day for starters.
Eat foods that require lots of digestion. For example high fibre foods, and foods that are high in protein.
Exercise every morning before you eat. Even for 15 minutes.
Never skip meals.
Eat hot foods eg spicy foods and chili. These actually increase metabolism. Also try green tea.
Another idea that works is to build some muscle. Muscle is very much more active in terms of calories burned than fat is. 1kg of muscle just by being there on your body will burn fat, whereas fat won't. Muscle building workouts are also very intense and therefore leave the metabolic rate elevated for some time after a workout.

Make sure that you work hard in your cardio training too. Intense sessions are much better for metabolism than easy sessions.