What is metabolism? “Metabolism” refers to how well and how efficiently our body functions to help us digest food and convert that food into usable energy. Metabolism also helps our body circulate blood, grow new cells, supports brain and nerve activity, contracts muscles, and helps our body to fight against disease.
The rate at which your body uses energy while you are at rest is referred to as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Knowing your BMR can help you to make decisions on the type and amount of physical activity you need, and how many calories you should consume each day. To calculate your BMR you will use the following equations:
For Males: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
For Females: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
You can improve your metabolism by making healthy food choices, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as:
- Eat healthy foods in appropriate serving sizes. Eat quality protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. Be aware of calories consumed, but keep in mind that the quality of the food that you eat may affect your health more.
- Increase the number of calories that you burn each day through physical activity. You may want to try increasing the intensity of your activity so that you burn more calories in the same amount of time that you normally work out. Include strength training in your routine. BMR increases as muscle mass increases.
- Check for nutrient deficiencies in iron, Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium. Deficiencies in these can lower your BMR. You can improve intake of these nutrients by eating healthy food, getting sunlight, and taking supplements as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water increases BMR.
- Drink tea. Green and oolong teas contain compounds that are known to increase BMR.
- Manage your stress and make sure to get plenty of sleep. Stress and lack of sleep can cause you to overeat or make poor food choices. Hormone imbalances caused by stress and lack of sleep can cause inflammation that may lower BMR.
There is no magic to improving your metabolism. You may not be able to change the affects that your genetics or age have on your metabolism, but you certainly can adopt healthy lifestyle habits that will improve it.
These are the factors that influence your BMR:
- Your gender can influence your BMR as hormone levels and body composition generally differ between male and female.
- Your height and weight influence your BMR. When you lose weight your BMR decreases and you require fewer calories per day.
- Your age is a factor in determining your BMR due to changes in hormone production and a decline in muscle mass. Even though growing older is unavoidable, there are healthy lifestyle behaviors that can support a healthy BMR as we age.