How does metabolism affect weight loss?

by Rakib Sarwar, RPh on January 28, 2020
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You must have heard of a case of a middle-aged woman who does not overeat, yet she cannot lose weight. We all have. At least once in your life, you come across an overweight person who says that even drinking a glass of water leads to weight gain. Is this possible? People with slow metabolism say it is. Metabolism and weight loss are strongly interconnected. Poor metabolism can stop you from losing weight. Moreover, it can lead to various other disorders.

Stay with us and learn how metabolism affects weight loss and weight gain. In addition, discover the truth behind slow metabolism, how to accelerate it, and how to burn more calories. 

What is metabolism?

You’ve probably heard that people blame their slow metabolism for their weight, but what does that actually mean? Moreover, is your metabolism really the only culprit? Is it possible to boost metabolism to burn more calories?

Metabolism and weight loss are interconnected, and it is important to understand the way our metabolism works in order to modify it and lose weight.  

While it is true that metabolism is related to weight gain or weight loss, it may not be responsible in the way you expect. In fact, contrary to widespread beliefs, slow metabolism is rarely the only cause of excess weight. Although your body’s metabolism is influenced by basic energy needs, it is your intake of food and drink, i.e., calories, and your physical activity that ultimately determines the way you lose or gain weight. Therefore, we can say that metabolism does play an important part in weight loss, but it cannot be the only factor.

First of all, let’s define metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy (1). During this complex biochemical process, the calories in food and drink combined with oxygen release the energy that the body needs in order to perform its functions. Even when you are on vacation, your body needs energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, blood circulation, adjusting hormone levels, growth, and cell repair.

Now that you know the essence of metabolism and what it is, let’s introduce you to the three main types of metabolism. Later, we will learn how you can affect your own metabolism through your lifestyle.

Three metabolic types

There are several classifications of metabolism types in humans. One of the most popular ones is the classification of three basic types, including the protein, carbo, and mixed types.

Protein type – a type of metabolism where proteins are required, and the body oxidizes energy very quickly thanks to the dominance of the parasympathetic segment. Those people who belong to this type are often hungry, like salty foods, and don’t like the low-fat diet. Moreover, they have a low tolerance to sweet food, often feel tired and anxious, lethargic, and moody. They don’t usually experience weight problems.

Carbo type – a type of metabolism where carbohydrates are required, and usually, slow energy oxidization takes place thanks to the dominance of the sympathetic segment. These people have a low appetite, high tolerance for sweets, and usually, have some weight problems. Moreover, they are usually caffeine addicts.

Mixed types – the most common type of metabolism, neither slow nor fast, and does not have a pronounced dominance of the sympathetic or parasympathetic segment. They have a solid appetite, a strong desire for sweets, and they feel moderate fatigue and only sometimes anxiety. In terms of weight, this type is the border case, i.e., it should keep the appetite under control. 

Relationship between metabolism and weight loss/gain

The number of calories your body uses to perform these basic functions is known as basal metabolism (BM). Several factors determine basal metabolism:

  • Body size and composition
  • Gender
  • Age.

How does this reflect on the relationship between metabolism and weight loss or weight gain? Even though the metabolic processes and systems are rather complex, it is easy to explain its weight gain/weight loss segment. First of all, the bodies of people who are “larger” or have more muscles burn more calories. Men tend to have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight and burn more calories. With age, the amount of muscles decreases and fat increases, which slows down calorie burn. The energy required for basic functions remains fairly consistent, and it is not easy to change. Your basal metabolism burns about 60 to 75 percent of your calories every day (2).  

In addition to the basal metabolism, the other two factors determine how many calories your body burns each day:

  • Food processing
  • Physical activity.

Digestion, transportation, and storage of the foods you consume also spend some calories. It accounts for about 10 percent of calories every day. Energy consumption for food processing remains relatively stable and is not easy to change.

When it comes to physical activity, exercise, such as playing tennis, walking, running, and other types of exercise burn the rest of your calories every day. It is essential to stay active in order to maintain proper metabolism and overall health and wellbeing. 

How to boost metabolism?

There are many ways in which you can boost your metabolism. First, let’s talk about proper diet. It is important to adjust your diet to your metabolism type. Earlier in this article, we talked about three metabolism types. Those were the protein type, the carbo type, and the mixed type. Now, you will learn more about the diet you need to practice in order to adjust it to your metabolism.

Protein metabolism requires protein foods (meat, cheese, eggs), “good” fats and oils, especially foods rich in purine (veal, for example). Carbohydrate intake should be less.

People who have a carbo type of metabolism should consume mostly foods rich in carbohydrates and poor in protein, fats, and oils. They should definitely choose foods that are low in purine.

The mixed type of metabolism should use a variety of foods that are high in protein, purine, fat, and oil, but also carbohydrates so that the relationships are even and balanced. If you belong to this type, you are lucky. Why? The reason is simple: you can eat most foods in moderate amounts, and this is actually the standard diet of medically educated and knowledgeable people.

Moreover, you can boost your metabolism by consuming some foods that naturally have the effect of speeding up digestion and boosting the body’s energy and can be used in reasonable and effective doses. That being said, you understand that a proper diet is essential. Most noteworthy, you should eat regularly in smaller amounts, knowing that you will need energy. Moreover, the foods you choose should be fresh and full of nutrients.

If we said that you should eat according to the type of metabolism you possess, it is more than clear that your physical activity should also be adjusted to your metabolism. Now, let’s learn more about your physical activity and its relation to metabolism. 

Calorie Consumption by Activity

We all know that walks are highly recommended as one of the best ways of staying fit and improving your metabolism. However, keep in mind that slow walking and quick walking are by no means the same. Namely, you can spend 280 kcal and 460 kcal per hour, respectively. Therefore, if you decide to walk in order to lose weight, opt for the faster version. You should feel your heart pounding. If you want to maintain your weight, you can rely on slow walks.

In addition, there are many interesting activities and exercising modes you can practice outdoors. Those imply good old jogging that consumes lots of calories. Putting your muscles into function and moving all those parts of the body that had not stretched for a long time is an amazing feeling. It will activate your body, including your metabolism.

Moreover, you can dance, join Pilates, do yoga, or fitness. In addition, swimming is always a good idea. You will tone your muscles, improve your metabolism, and lose weight. Moreover, you can alleviate the negative effects of the sedentary lifestyle. 

Tips

Finally, here are some important tips and rules you must not neglect if you want to boost your metabolism. Don’t forget, metabolism and weight loss are co-dependent, and you can modify both through a few tricks, tips, and, of course, a healthy lifestyle.

First of all, always try to have a good sleep. This is not an easy task, especially in the hectic way of life most people lead today. However, it is crucial for your wellbeing. Sleep is very important as our body rests, resets, and is ready for new challenges during sleep. In other words, it is ready to make good use of the energy you intake throughout the day.

Sleep deprivation also affects how much we eat. You will crave food, especially carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates, along with proteins and fats, are very important to our body, their intake must still be controlled, and we need to choose those sources of complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables. Moreover, if you don’t get enough sleep, you will probably feel anxious and moody, which can decrease your will to exercise and eat healthy food.

Secondly, have your breakfast. The first and basic rule of healthy living and not just dieting that will help your metabolism is not to skip your breakfast (3). Make sure to get up a bit earlier and find time to prepare a quality breakfast so that you don’t rely on bakery products such as muffins or other unhealthy snacks instead of a quality, healthy breakfast. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and, therefore, you should pay attention to it the most. In order to activate your metabolism, you need to eat something like Greek yogurt or fruit, such as a banana in the morning.

Breakfast is important because metabolism, like the rest of the body, slows down during sleep, and metabolism does not start until the moment you eat. In addition, those who have a good breakfast will eat less during the day.

Moreover, don’t forget the water! Since our body is made up of 70 percent water, it is logical that water is very important for all bodily processes. Proper nutrition and physical activity cannot be maintained without good hydration, so you must hydrate yourself with a 2L of water a day (1).

The Bottom Line

There is a strong connection between metabolism and weight loss. First of all, your metabolism depends on several factors, including the amount of muscle mass, hormones, eating habits, physical activity, diet, genetics, and stress.

The stronger the metabolism, the faster you spend the calories taken during the day. Moreover, your hormones are responsible for regulating physiological processes in the body, and they do affect your metabolism. That’s why you should visit your doctor if you notice that you are dealing with a too slow or too fast metabolism.

However, there are some conditions you can improve yourself. For example, the frequency of your meals. Simply put, the larger the interval between meals, the slower your metabolism. People who eat once or twice a day have a slower metabolism than people who have 5 to 6 meals a day.

Finally, insufficient fluid intake can lead to dehydration, which slows down all systems in your body. Stress that creates tension affects your mood and eating habits, as well as hormones.

As a result, you can significantly slow down your metabolism with a sedentary and stressful way of life. Consequently, you will not only have trouble losing weight, but you may also experience sudden and uncontrolled weight gain. Luckily, there are many things you can do to boost it and thus lose weight more effectively. 

References

  1. Farr OM, Camp M, Mantzoros CS. New research developments and insights from Metabolism. Metabolism. 2015 Mar;64(3):354-67. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2014.12.002. Epub 2014 Dec 17. PubMed PMID: 25549908; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4459594. Found online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4459594/
  2.   Sutherland E. Healing metabolism: a naturopathic medicine perspective on achieving weight loss and long-term balance. Perm J. 2005 Summer;9(3):16-8. doi: 10.7812/tpp/05-042. PubMed PMID: 22811622; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3396071. Found online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396071/
  3. Ruddick-Collins LC, Johnston JD, Morgan PJ, Johnstone AM. The Big Breakfast Study: Chrono-nutrition influence on energy expenditure and bodyweight. Nutr Bull. 2018 Jun;43(2):174-183. doi: 10.1111/nbu.12323. Epub 2018 May 8. PubMed PMID: 29861661; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5969247. Found online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5969247/

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