5 Things You Need to Know About Your Metabolism (2022)

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5 Things You Need to Know About Your Metabolism (1)

5 Things You Need to Know About Your Metabolism (2)

Brad Dieter

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We often hear people say, “I have a slow metabolism” or “they just have a fast metabolism,” and we all nod our head in agreement. But do we understand what that means?

What is your metabolism? Can it be fast or slow? Does having a slow metabolism make you more inclined to gain weight? Does your metabolism really “break” when you diet?

These are the questions we are going to provide some clarity on in this article.

1. Your Metabolism is More Than One Thing

We often refer to our metabolism as a singular thing, like it is this black box or small engine that stuff goes into and then comes out of. But the truth is, our metabolism is a collection of many things. In reality, our metabolism is the sum of all the metabolic processes in our body.

One of the most straightforward ways to understand your metabolism is to refer to it as your total energy expenditure. This means that your metabolism is the cumulation of all the energy your body expends to function. We will refer to this is our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Learn more: A Guide to Energy Balance

What does Total Daily Energy expenditure (TDEE) Mean?

This TDEE can be further broken down into three main categories:

(Video) Slow Metabolism? 8 Proven Ways to Boost It & Lose Weight | Joanna Soh

  1. resting metabolism (what most of us call our metabolism)
  2. the energy it takes to process the food you eat
  3. physical activity (more on that in a bit)

Resting Metabolism

Your resting metabolism is the sum of all the metabolic processes that are required for you to live. This means your cells use energy to do things like breathe, think, pump blood, etc. This represents about 60-70% of your TDEE.

The thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

The next piece is what we call the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is simply the energy it requires to extract the energy you get from your food. This is a relatively small amount of energy and represents about 10% of your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Physical Activity

The last piece that makes up your TDEE is your physical activity, meaning the amount of movement you do throughout the day. This is often broken down into two separate categories: physical activity that is from structured exercise (we call this exercise activity thermogenesis) and physical activity from non-structured exercise (we call this non-exercise activity thermogenesis).

2. Your Metabolism Adapts

Most of us think of our metabolism as this static thing that we don’t have control over. But as it turns out; this isn’t the case.

In fact, we have a blog that will show you 5 ways to speed up your metabolism. So, there is much more flexibility than many assume.

First, you just learned that your metabolism is more than one thing. It is a collection of many different aspects of your body and its functions. Also, you learned that you have some control over at least parts of it.

Second, your metabolism is quite “adaptable.” It will adjust based on what you do in your daily life. Let me explain these two ideas with a few examples.

In one of the more interesting studies of the 1990s, scientists tested to see what happens to people when they increase or decrease their calories (1). They found that when you increase people’s calories, something very interesting happens: they start to burn more calories.

Primarily, they increase their non-exercise physical activity; they started moving around more. Their resting metabolic rate also increased very slightly, with some of that coming from an increased thermic effect of food, but some of it also comes from having an increased body mass.

(Video) Eat Healthy and Boost Your Metabolism!

The same thing happened when they decreased their calories, but in the opposite direction. When people decreased their calorie intake, their physical activity decreased, as did their thermic effect of food and their resting metabolism from reduced body mass.

In short, their metabolisms adapted to the scenario their body was being exposed to.

3. Your NEAT is More Important Than You Probably Think

While our resting metabolism makes up the most significant part of our metabolism, it doesn’t change as much as people think it does. It also doesn’t play the most prominent role in weight loss or weight gain. Most studies that examine resting metabolic rate find that it does not predict weight gain or weight loss at all.

Outside of your resting metabolism, your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the most essential aspect of your metabolism.

Conveniently, it is also the most controllable.

5 Things You Need to Know About Your Metabolism (3)

One study found that a person’s NEAT was almost single-handedly the thing that determined why some people who “overeat” gain a lot of weight, and why other people do not (2).

Furthermore, two studies that followed the contestants of the weight loss television show The Biggest Loser found that their physical activity, including their NEAT, was the most significant predictor of who gained back the weight they lost from the show and who did not (3,4).

4. Your Metabolism Doesn’t “Break”

There is a meme that exists that people can have a broken metabolism that causes them to gain weight. Fortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that metabolisms can become “broken.”

Sure, your metabolism can decrease when you lose weight by carrying less body weight, moving around less, and having a lower thermic effect of food.

(Video) How To Boost Your Metabolism And Burn More Fat | 3 Simple Tips

Your metabolism can also decrease if you have significant hormonal issues, such as hypothyroidism. But your metabolism is not something that “breaks”; it naturally adapts to the stimuli you give it.

5. Your Resting Metabolic Rate Isn’t Super Useful For Weight Loss

There are many ways to measure resting metabolic rate, some more accurate than others. However, the accuracy of these tests is not overly critical because a person’s resting metabolic rate is not an overly useful measure for many reasons.

First, we can’t manipulate the resting metabolic rate to a meaningful degree through diet or exercise. We can measure things like metabolic equivalents, which relies on metabolic rates, but the accuracy is still suspect.

Second, when we look at most research, resting metabolism doesn’t appear to matter very much for weight loss (5). Your food intake and your NEAT are far more critical for weight loss efforts than your resting metabolic rate.

The Wrap Up

We often think about our metabolism as one thing. In reality, it is the full collection of all the energy-producing and energy-consuming processes that occur in our body. It is made up of our resting metabolism, the energy it takes to process our food, and our physical activity.

Your metabolism adapts to calorie increases and decreases, with a large part of the adaptation coming from changes in physical activity. While metabolisms can decrease, they do not “break.” Lastly, lower resting metabolisms do not appear to be predictive of weight gain and by themselves are not overly helpful measures for most people.

Additional Resources to check out!

For metabolism as a whole, be sure to sure to watch the NASM Live video below, as they go deeper into the overall subject and approach it from different angles.

(Video) Do You Have a Slow or Fast Metabolism? Here's How to Calculate Your Metabolic Score

If you're interested in learning more about energy balance and metabolism, become an NASM Certified Nutrition Coach. There is an entire chapter dedicated to these topics.

Also, be sure to check out our free nutrition mini course to help you get started on your journey to becoming a CNC.

FAQs

What do I need to know about metabolism? ›

Experts say metabolism is largely determined by heredity, as well as sex-based factors, body size, age, and physical activity. Becoming more physically active, increasing muscle mass through strength training, and eating more protein may be ways to increase the body's rate of calorie burn.

What are 3 main factors that determine a person's metabolism? ›

Your metabolic rate is influenced by many factors – including age, gender, muscle-to-fat ratio, amount of physical activity and hormone function.

What causes fast metabolism? ›

People with more muscle mass often have faster metabolisms that burn more calories. Age: You lose muscle as you get older, which slows down the metabolism. Sex: Males tend to have faster metabolisms than females. They have more muscle mass, larger bones and less body fat.

What are the main parts of metabolism? ›

Metabolism is a balancing act involving two kinds of activities that go on at the same time: building up body tissues and energy stores (called anabolism) breaking down body tissues and energy stores to get more fuel for body functions (called catabolism)

Does fasting slow metabolism? ›

Short-term fasts boost metabolism by up to 14%

However, some older studies have shown that fasting for short periods can actually increase your metabolism, not slow it down ( 30 , 31 ). One older study in 11 healthy men found that a 3-day fast actually increased their metabolism by an impressive 14% ( 32 ).

What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat? ›

7 Foods that Burn Belly Fat
  • Beans. “Becoming a bean lover can help you lose weight and whittle your middle,” registered dietitian Cynthia Sass told Today. ...
  • Swap your beef for salmon. ...
  • Yogurt. ...
  • Red bell peppers. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Edamame. ...
  • Diluted vinegar.

What drinks boost metabolism? ›

Drinks that boost metabolism and appetite naturally
  • 01/7​Drinks that boost metabolism. ...
  • 02/7​Pineapple Smoothie. ...
  • 03/7​Fennel Tea. ...
  • 04/7​Coffee and Dark Chocolate. ...
  • 05/7​Lemon Detox Water. ...
  • 06/7​Ajwain Detox water. ...
  • 07/7​Ginger and Lemon drink.
19 Oct 2021

What foods fasten your metabolism? ›

12 Metabolism-Boosting Foods to Aid Weight Loss (Infographic)
  • Fish & Shellfish. Metabolism-Boosting Powers: Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. ...
  • Legumes (Also known as beans) ...
  • Chili Peppers. ...
  • Lean Meats. ...
  • Low-Fat Milk. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Lentils. ...
  • Oatmeal.
22 Aug 2021

How do I keep my metabolism down to lose weight? ›

Keeping the weight off

There are several habits we've learned from their weight loss success. To keep the metabolic rate up and the weight off, start the day with breakfast; eat a balanced, nutrient-rich, low-calorie, low-fat diet that includes protein; exercise for at least an hour a day; and weigh yourself weekly.

How do I know if my metabolism is slow? ›

Possible signs of a slow metabolism may include: Unexpected weight changes (weight gain or weight loss) Getting tired easily or feeling sluggish. Hair loss.

How can I Kickstart My metabolism in the morning? ›

7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Every Morning
  1. Exercise early. ...
  2. Rev up with healthy fuel. ...
  3. Remember to hydrate. ...
  4. Enjoy a cup of green tea or black coffee. ...
  5. Offer your seat. ...
  6. Get your belly laugh on. ...
  7. Sneak in some extra steps.
3 Apr 2017

Does hot or cold water increase metabolism? ›

A study published in 2003 found that switching from drinking cold water to hot water could increase weight loss. Researchers found that drinking 500 ml of water before a meal increased metabolism by 30 percent. Raising water temperature to 98.6 degrees accounted for 40 percent of the increase in metabolism.

Does sleep increase metabolism? ›

Sleep also affects individual metabolism. Getting sufficient, high-quality rest can help your body maintain its optimal metabolic rate for your age, make it easier to lose weight (and keep from gaining weight), and help reduce risks for diseases associated with weight gain.

Does sweating more mean faster metabolism? ›

If you're someone who gets hot and sweaty at the drop of a hat — even when everyone else around you is comfortable — it could be a sign of a fast metabolism. As Dr. Greuner says, "This is due to a higher basal body temperature, and quick metabolic reactions occurring within the body."

Can you test your metabolism at home? ›

At-home metabolism tests use blood and saliva samples you take yourself and mail back to the company. These samples are analyzed in a lab to determine whether your hormones or other levels are high, low, or normal. The results indicate how your hormones or other markers may be affecting your metabolism and weight.

What will happen if I eat less food? ›

Eating less may restrict you from getting the required vitamins and minerals leading to various problems in the body." Eating less can cause various health problems that may include fatigue, gout, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, anaemia, loss of lean muscle mass, heart problems and other imbalances.

What 4 factors determine energy needs? ›

Factors influencing energy requirements
  • Age. Children and adolescents need more energy for growth and development in comparison to adults. ...
  • Occupation. ...
  • Illness.

How many calories do you need per day? ›

Adults. The recommended calorie intake for adult women ranges from 1,600 calories per day to 2,400 calories per day, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2 For men, the amount is slightly higher, ranging from 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day.

What are the 3 stages of metabolism? ›

Catabolism: The Breakdown
  • Stage 1: Glycolysis for glucose, β-oxidation for fatty acids, or amino acid catabolism.
  • Stage 2: Citric Acid Cycle (or Kreb cycle)
  • Stage 3: Electron Transport Chain and ATP synthesis.
2 May 2022

What are the 2 types of metabolism? ›

There are two categories of metabolism: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the breakdown of organic matter, and anabolism uses energy to construct components of cells, such as proteins and nucleic acids.

How does your metabolism work? ›

The process of metabolism has two main parts. Anabolism helps you grow new cells, store energy and maintain your body tissues. Catabolism breaks down fat and carbohydrate molecules to release energy that fuels anabolism, keeps you warm and enables your muscles to contract.

Does eating one meal a day slow your metabolism? ›

In summary, we found that one meal per day in the evening lowers body weight and adapts metabolic flexibility during exercise via increased fat oxidation, whereas the physical performance and the postprandial responses to liquid mixed meals were unaffected.

Is it better to fast or eat 3 meals a day? ›

So, the science seems to say the healthiest way to eat throughout the day is to have two or three meals, with a long fasting window overnight, to not eat too early or too late in the day, and to consume more calories earlier on in the day.

How long does it take to reset your metabolism? ›

Be patient

It may take you some time to increase your metabolism — three months is a reasonable timeframe to expect to see changes.

What are the 2 vegetables that destroy stomach fat? ›

Eat These 5 Vegetables To Kill Belly Fat
  • 1#: Cucumber. Because cucumber contains so much water, it helps you feel full and eliminate cravings. ...
  • #2: Tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in both calcium and vitamin C, which is an essential antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body. ...
  • #3: Chilies. ...
  • #4: Leafy Greens. ...
  • #5: Beans.
2 Mar 2017

What drink burns belly fat overnight? ›

Pineapple JuicePineapple juice is believed to be a great remedy for belly fat. An important enzyme called bromelain which is found in the juice of pineapple helps in metabolizing protein and burns away excess stomach fat.

Does lemon water burn fat? ›

Lemon water can promote fullness, support hydration, boost metabolism and increase weight loss. However, lemon water is no better than regular water when it comes to losing fat. That being said, it is tasty, easy to make and can be used as a low-calorie replacement for higher-calorie beverages.

What can I put in my hot water to lose weight? ›

“If you want to enhance the impact of warm water, add some lemon and honey to it. This can expedite your metabolic rate, resulting in rapid weight loss,” she suggests.

Does water boost metabolism? ›

Drink water. Water is the key to life, and it turns out it's also one of the easiest ways to help your metabolism. Drinking water increases your metabolism by up to 25% for nearly an hour after drinking it. That means if you drink a few cups of water every hour, you'll keep your metabolism at peak performance all day.

Does coffee increase metabolism? ›

Coffee Can Increase Your Metabolic Rate

Studies show that caffeine can increase RMR by 3–11%, with larger doses having a greater effect ( 11 , 12 ). Interestingly, most of the increase in metabolism is caused by an increase in fat burning ( 13 ).

What fruit speeds up your metabolism? ›

Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew—these are naturally good for metabolism. Watermelon may even help with weight loss because it contains the amino acid arginine, which was found in a study of obese mice to reduce body fat gains by 64 percent.

Which of the following factors affects an individual's metabolism? ›

Factors such as age, diet, climate, race and menstruation exert a significant effect on the basal metabolism of the normal human subject. Each of these has received considerable attention, particularly the questions of age and of diet.

What is the major factor that determines metabolic rate? ›

Answer and Explanation: The major factor that determines metabolic rate is lean body tissue (muscle mass). Muscle is very metabolically active, meaning that is burns a lot of energy, even at rest. The more muscle mass a person has, the higher their metabolic rate.

How does age affect metabolism? ›

As we age, our metabolism slows and the rate at which we break down food decreases by 10 percent each decade after age 20. Metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) your body uses to maintain itself.

What will happen if I eat less food? ›

Eating less may restrict you from getting the required vitamins and minerals leading to various problems in the body." Eating less can cause various health problems that may include fatigue, gout, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, anaemia, loss of lean muscle mass, heart problems and other imbalances.

What 4 factors determine energy needs? ›

Factors influencing energy requirements
  • Age. Children and adolescents need more energy for growth and development in comparison to adults. ...
  • Occupation. ...
  • Illness.

How many calories do you need per day? ›

Adults. The recommended calorie intake for adult women ranges from 1,600 calories per day to 2,400 calories per day, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2 For men, the amount is slightly higher, ranging from 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day.

How do I know if my metabolism is slow? ›

Possible signs of a slow metabolism may include: Unexpected weight changes (weight gain or weight loss) Getting tired easily or feeling sluggish. Hair loss.

Does exercise speed up metabolism? ›

Myth #1: Exercise boosts your metabolism long after you stop. It is true that you burn more calories when you exercise, especially when you get your heart rate up with activities like biking or swimming. That increased calorie burn lasts as long as your workout.

How can I speed up my metabolism naturally? ›

Power Up With Protein

As part of a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can boost metabolism at mealtime. Good sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.

What's your metabolic age? ›

But what is metabolic age, how is it determined, and what does it really mean? Your metabolic age is how your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or how many calories your body burns at rest, compares to the average BMR for people of your chronological age in the general population.

How does metabolism work? ›

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.

At what age is metabolism highest? ›

Researchers found that metabolism peaks around age 1, when babies burn calories 50 percent faster than adults, and then gradually declines roughly 3 percent a year until around age 20.

Does sleeping slow metabolism? ›

While activities like exercise can temporarily increase metabolism, sleep cannot8. Metabolism actually slows about 15% during sleep, reaching its lowest level in the morning 9.

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