What does your Metabolism Do?

Metabolism essentially determines the amount of energy (calories) that our body burns during the day. On Average the metabolism expends calories from the following functions:

  • 10% for digestion and absorption of food
  • 20% is used for physical activity of the body
  • 70% of those calories are used up for the basic functions of the body such as breathing, blood circulation, growth and cells recovery

How can you determine if your metabolism is slow?

Your metabolism can be measured by checking your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is calculated when your body is at rest. However, your metabolism ultimately doesn’t determine your weight. Weight is lost or gained by calories consumed versus calories burned. Weight gain occurs when a person takes in more calories than their body needs and uses. With that being said, having a more efficient metabolism will allow you to burn more calories resulting in weight loss.

Factors that influence metabolism

1. Age – Metabolism becomes sluggish as we age. The reason it slows down is because of muscle deterioration (which can start as early as the age of 20) and becomes more noticeable after the age of 40 for women and 50 for men.

2. Gender – Men have a higher BMR “metabolism” than women, which typically is between 10%-20% higher. The higher BMR is commonly due to men having more lean muscle and larger organs.

3. Hormones – Increase in testosterone can increase metabolism rate and decreased levels of testosterone can slow it down.

4. Body Temperature – When your body is hot with a fever or sitting in a sauna your metabolism increases. When your body is extremely cold, your body will try to heat itself up which will increase your metabolism.

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5. Stress – Chronic stress can decrease your metabolism because it creates the hormone cortisol, which triggers glucose, stimulating appetite, slowing down digestion and causes fat storage, all of this can lead to obesity. Stress responses (fight-or-flight) causes the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine which can increase metabolism.

6. Genetics – Your parents metabolic rate could be passed to you, but there are so many options to change these genes that this should not discourage you.

7. Liver – A healthy liver will assist your metabolism to work better and allow you to burn more calories. The liver organ also helps the thyroid work better.

8. Thyroid gland – Including the Parathyroid, Hypothalamus and Anterior pituitary glands, determine how quickly our body uses energy.

9. Adrenal glands – Secretes corticosteroid hormones, which determines how food is used for energy or how it is stored in fat cells.

10. Body Composition – The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn!

Top 10 Foods to Increase Metabolism

Below is a list of healthy foods which will increase your metabolic rate resulting in more calories expended.

1. Chili peppers – Peppers contain capsaicin, one of the best chemicals when it comes to boosting metabolism. Capsaicin is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and is responsible for a specific color and taste of peppers. Chili peppers also give a sense of fullness, essential to people who want to lose weight.

2. Citrus fruits – Oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruits Citrus fruits help burn fat and boost metabolism. These fruits are excellent for refreshing, but they also provide strength to the body. They can be both consumed fresh and in juice as well. They are also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

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3. Cinnamon – Best spice when it comes to metabolism boost, cinnamon is responsible for transferring sugar to the cells. Cinnamon prevents sugar (glucose) from becoming fat, instead converting it into energy. However, one should be careful with the amount of cinnamon, as it can be poisonous when overused. One tablespoon per day is enough.

4. Coffee – One of the best ways to boost metabolism is drinking coffee. There is a reason some people cannot function without a cup of coffee in the morning. Coffee contains caffeine, a component that helps control nerves and boosts metabolism. For the healthiest boost, consume two cups per day and do not add any sugar.

5. Avocado – Healthy, tasty fruit, avocado contains fatty acids and antioxidants. Avocado increases the rate of burning fat and boosts the body’s metabolism. Consuming avocados several times a week is ideal, if not possible, at least once per week is the recommended minimum.

6. Fish – Fish will help burn enzymes and fat in the body and boost metabolism as well. Additionally, fish are rich in protein and omega-3 fats, making them a superfood. If nothing less, consuming fish once per week is the recommended minimum. Try to stay away from fish that contain heavy metals.

7. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese – Dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D, both essential for muscle building. Consuming dairy products helps regulate the digestive system. One glass of yogurt or milk for breakfast is an excellent choice for kick starting the metabolism.

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8. Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans) – One cup of legumes contains 35% from the daily recommended dose of iron. Deficiency of iron slows down the metabolism, as it is one of the essential nutrients for proper function. According to a global statistic, 20% of the world’s population suffers from iron deficiency.

9. Apple – Consuming apples has lots of health benefits. It helps boost metabolism, raise immunity and prevent fatigues. It is best to consume an apple in the morning. They contain 90% water and 0% fat, making them an excellent diet choice for people who want to lose weight. Also, if consumed before a meal, you will eat less total calories.

10. Celery – Celery has very low amount of calories and helps the metabolic system burn the food faster. One of the downsides of celery is that it does not contain enough minerals and nutrients. For that reason, celery is only recommended to be consumed in combination with some other food. Celery is an excellent addition in salads, for example.