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9 Factors That Affect Metabolic Rate
The metabolic rate can be influenced by numerous factors. We can change some of these factors, whilst others we have to accept. The most effective way of raising metabolic rate when trying to lose fat weight is to add more lean muscle to your body. Just an extra few pounds of muscle can boost the metabolism and help give you more shape.
Factors that Increase the Metabolic Rate
- Body Size. A naturally big body means more cells to maintain which requires more calories, therefore larger people tend to have a high metabolism.
- Weight Gain. This speeds up the metabolism as each movement requires the contraction of more muscle to move the mass, even if the weight gained is fat. However fat is not metabolically active, so the metabolic rate will only be higher during movement.
- Body Composition. Body composition is the difference between total lean weight compared to fat weight. A higher percentage of lean body weight results in a high metabolic rate compared with individuals of the same weight with a higher fat percentage. A lean person burns many more calories than an overweight person at rest because lean body weight is metabolically active.
- Gender. Men naturally have a higher degree of lean muscle and research suggests this is mainly due to the male sex hormones resulting in the difference in body size and composition.
- Age. After 30 years of age there is usually a gradual decline in lean body weight and an increase in fat weight. This is mainly due to hormonal changes and will lead to a lowering of the metabolism. Regular exercise in adulthood will slow this process down and help keep metabolism up.
- Hereditary. Differences in genes can affect metabolism. Some people can have the same weight, fat content and age but have different body types which result in different metabolic rates. Other genes could influence fat uptake and utilization.
- Hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that move through the bloodstream and control many of the body's main chemical processes and can so influence the metabolism. A rise in some of the body's important hormones through regular exercise can increase lean weight and change the body composition.
- Psychological State. Stress and anxiety can cause a rapid increase in energy expenditure. When a person is said to be "on edge" or nervous they are in a state of high alert, different hormones circulate the blood vessels and communicate to cells to break down energy stores ready to provide a greater supply of energy if needed.
- Temperature. If we are too cold we shiver which burns up much energy from the constant contraction and relaxation of muscle cells trying to produce heat to maintain a constant body temperature. When we are hot we also burn more calories through the process of sweating. When you train or exercise hard, at a fast pace, you are naturally increasing the temperature of your body.
The human metabolism is also affected by your eating habits. Overeating for example places a huge amount of stress on the hormones involved in metabolism. When you eat too much regularly, the excess food creates a hormonal imbalance which affects your energy levels and your ability to use calories efficiently. Eventually, this imbalance can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other serious health conditions.
Why is it Important to Increase Metabolism?
An increased metabolism provides many benefits to help maintain continuous and permanent weight loss:
- less exercise would be needed - giving you more time
- less effort if you did exercise - no need to try burning lots of calories during each session!
- less chance of weight regain later
- still enjoy some favorite foods - no need to be as strict on the diet
- less time spent preparing low/ non fat recipes and meals
- save money from not needing to buy all the expensive low fat varieties
- higher percentage of fat loss over fluid loss