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When you hear somebody grumbling about their weight, inevitably another will offer a reason: their metabolism is slow. What exactly is metabolism and how does it affect the fluctuations in our weight?
Plainly speaking, metabolism is the rate by which your body burns calories. This means that the rate by which your body uses up energy through different body functions and movement is your metabolism. This could be calories burned by exercising, walking, doing household chores or simply by your body doing its basic functions. The basic energy consumption rate that your body has which is needed to perform tasks that simply keep you alive is called the basal metabolic rate or BMR. This includes the energy needed for breathing, blood circulation etc. The basic calculation for the BMR is to divide your body weight by 10, with a unit measure of kilocalories. The metabolism rate by which the body breaks down nutrients to energy is called the energy metabolism.

The faster your metabolism, the more efficiently your body burns up calories. The slower your metabolism is, the more energy there is left over in your body and when this is not used, it gets stored up as fat. Aside from our basal metabolic rate, our energy is also spent through thermogenesis or the processing of food. Just like a food processing plant will need electricity to turn out processed food, your body needs energy to convert what you consume into fuel. Your lifestyle is also another factor that determines how much energy you burn: if you are sedentary then the more fats are stored in your system. The more you move such as through exercise and being active, the faster your metabolism is and the less amount of fat you retain in your body.

That said, metabolism alone cannot be blamed on weight gain. While it is true that as we grow older our metabolism slows down, there are many ways a person can compensate for this. A slowed metabolism can be made up for by eating more consciously and exercising. The foods that a person consumes should contain lesser calories and should be more complex to digest. Likewise exercise is an important component of weight loss since this will burn off the calories that are not removed by the body’s basal metabolism alone.

When it comes to exercising, both strength training and aerobic exercise are important to aid metabolism. Aerobic exercises are the types of exercise that makes a person sweat and burn calories. This is the fastest way to shed the pounds since the stored fats are used up. Moreover, exercise jumpstarts processes in the body that aids in weight loss such as the balancing of good and bad cholesterols. Strength training is also important since as we grow older, we lose muscle mass and gain more fat mass. Strength training encourages the formation and proliferation of healthy muscles, and the more muscles a body has, the higher that person’s metabolism is since muscles need energy to function and move.