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Metabolism and Weight Loss—How You Burn Calories

Your metabolism has a reputation for being the culprit behind weight gain and obesity. In many people’s minds, a slow metabolism is to blame for their inability to lose weight while a friend who may eat the same amount of food doesn’t gain a pound. The truth is, however, that metabolism doesn’t work the way that you’d expect, and it’s very rare that a slow metabolism is the cause of weight gain.

The simple truth is that your caloric intake and your physical activity determine your weight. Metabolism, the process that your body undergoes to convert what you consume into energy, is generally balanced to meet your body’s needs. Even when you rest, your metabolism is creating energy for all of the resting functions of the body, including breathing, blood circulation, and cell repair.

Every person has a base metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories that your body needs to carry out your basic bodily functions. Your BMR is determined by several factors, including:

  • Body size
  • Body composition
  • Gender
  • Age

Your metabolism accounts for about 75% of the calories that you burn every day and is very difficult to adjust. Physical activity, however, is a major factor in the amount of calories that your body burns every day that you can directly affect.

Except when resulting from a metabolic disorder, weight gain is most commonly directly correlated with eating more calories than you burn. Instead of relying on quick-fix supplements that do not have FDA approval but claim to increase your metabolism, the most effective way for you to lose weight is to reduce the amount of calories that you eat and increase your physical activity. Even increased activity during your normal life, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the door, cleaning the house, or walking your dog, can burn calories and help with weight loss.


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