Updated: Apr 30
When it comes to losing and or gaining weight, the core of it all is our metabolism. So, why is it that some people can eat whatever they want and whenever they want, and not gain weight? Why do others struggle to lose weight? More often than not, it is linked to our metabolism.
I am a case of someone who struggles to lose weight. I am very in tune with what I eat, I workout 5-6 times and still struggle to lose weight. Recently, I learned more about my body, how many calories I burn per day on average, what I eat, and how much I should eat. Once I paid attention to these topics and paid attention to my metabolism, this is when I began to lose weight instead of plateauing. I used to be overwhelmed with the thought of paying attention to all of the numbers, but it became fun (not obsessive) when I realized I felt my best when I fueled myself properly, I stopped depriving myself of foods and calories, and felt the most aware of how to take care of myself, than I ever have. I set out to understand our metabolism more to share with you, so that you too can feel and fuel yourself the best possible way.
What is the definition of a metabolism?
"The internal process by which your body expends energy and burns calories," (healthharvard.edu)
Now that we have the definition, we can dive deeper into metabolism.
Metabolism is heavily linked to genetics, and is the main determining factor on whether we have a fast, slow, or average metabolism.
There are 3 types of metabolisms:
1) Fast- Burns calories quickly, can eat a lot and not gain weight
2) Slow- Burns fewer calories, can be hard to lose weight
3) Average- In the middle of the two above
Which one are you?
Metabolisms are made up of two different reactions, catabolic and anabolic. Catabolic reactions break down food to obtain energy. Anabolic reactions then use the energy produced to synthesize larger molecules from smaller ones.
This plays into what we call our "Total Daily Energy Expenditure" or what the cool kids call it, our TDEE. This is the total amount of energy it takes to function in our day to day lives. It is made up of three different factors.
1) Resting metabolism: 60-70% of our metabolism. It includes breathing, thinking, pumping blood, etc..
2) Energy it takes to process food we eat: 10%
3) Physical activity
Add all of these up and you get your TDEE. But, how many calories am I supposed to eat based off of my TDEE in order to fuel my body properly and not over eat? In order to figure this out, we need to find our basal metabolic rate. This is the number of calories you need to fuel your body. If you don't mind some math, here is the formula you use. It is called the "Harris-Benedict Equation." Since we use the a different measurement system you will have to convert your numbers to metric for this.
MEN: 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years) = Basal Metabolic Rate
WOMEN: 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years) = Basal Metabolic Rate
After we calculate this number, we can then use it to figure out our total metabolic rate which includes, food, exercise, and daily activities. I recommend using a fitness tracker such as "My Fitness Pal" to track how many calories you are eating, how many calories you burn daily from excercise and non-excercise activities, as well as your weight.
Example: So for mine, my total came out to be 2,379 that's an all inclusive number.
Now I get to subtract 500 calories to get into what they call a "deficit." This is what you need to be in, in order to lose weight. If I wanted to maintain my weight then I would eat the full 2,379. But since I want to lose, subtracting that 500 brings me down to 1,879 calories.
You may be wondering why your metabolism is slow. Here a few possibilities.
1) Age- the older you get the slower your mtabolism gets
2) Gender- men naturally have a faster metabolism than women
3) Body size- bigger bodies burn more calories
4) Caffeine- Increase in caffeine can speed up metabolism
6) Food intake- if you are not eating enough you WILL have a SLOWER metabolism
7) Body Composition- if you have less lean muscle then you will have a slower metabolism. Lean muscle burns more calories
8) Activity level- no activity= slower metabolism
If you do have a slow metabolism, can you speed it up? The answer is to a certain degree, and here are a few ways.
1) Add in high intensity interval training- metabolism can be sped up for as much as a full day
2) Eat protein and do weight training- protein has a high thermic effect (the process of when you eat, digest, and store food).
3) Add in green tea/ caffeine- if you need a GREAT tea let me know, I will hook you up!
With all of this being said, it is important to understand our OWN bodies and what works for us and what doesn't. Everyone has a different body with different needs. Getting to know your body will allow you to create a healthy lifestyle, fuel yourself properly, and feel great! Understanding your metabolism is a great first step! Do not be overwhelmed, but rather look at it as an opportunity to better yourself!