Baby Steps to Weight Loss, Part 2

Copyright 2006 Kristy Haugen

The basal metabolic rate or BMR is the minimum caloric requirement needed for the body to sustain life in a resting state. The BMR is the minimal amount of calories required to sustain necessary bodily processes such as respiration and the beating of your heart. The basal metabolic rate does not include physical activity so if you do more than sleep all day, you will burn more calories than your calculated BMR. The body requires about 60-65% of your daily caloric intake to provide energy basically for life support.

The food that you eat also requires energy to digest this food. The thermic effect of food is the amount of energy expenditure due to food processing for storage and use. The thermic effect of food requires about 10% of your daily caloric intake. Certain foods have a different thermic effect. Foods that have a larger thermic effect mean that more energy is required to digest these foods such as proteins and high fiber foods. High thermic foods take longer to digest thus leaving a feeling of fullness. Foods that have a thermic effect that is small require very little energy for digestion. Also, these foods digest rather quickly. Foods that have a small thermic effect include fats and simple sugars.

Physical activity does affect the body’s metabolism. The amount of calories you can consume daily is dependent on your activity level. Very active, athletic individuals burn more calories than a sedentary individual. Physical activity encompasses any movement or activity other than the above fore mentioned. Physical activity is usually about 25% of the daily caloric intake.

The body’s metabolism is affected by many factors such as age, amount of lean muscle, height, dieting, pregnancy, and the healthy function of one’s thyroid gland. The body’s rate of metabolism naturally decreases with age due to the decrease in physical activity and amount of lean muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is metabolically active requiring more energy to sustain it. Taller individuals have a higher rate of metabolism than shorter individuals. Pregnancy increases the body’s rate of metabolism.

Certain factors can increase the body’s metabolism such as high levels of stress hormones, fever, or an increase or decrease in the environmental temperature. The hormone thyroxin produced by the thyroid gland is a key regulator of basal metabolic rate. If the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, this can affect body weight, muscle strength, energy level, and heart rate.

The body’s rate of metabolism can decrease in response to a diet without the incorporation of regular exercise. A strict diet can cause a sudden decrease in one’s metabolism. The body will only burn calories that are necessary for bodily functions. Incorporating a diet and exercise program together can offset the negative effect of dieting on the body’s metabolism, thus increasing your metabolism.

How can you increase your body’s rate of metabolism? Increasing the body’s amount of muscle tissue through exercise can increase the body’s rate of metabolism. Weight bearing exercises or resistance exercises increase the body’s rate of metabolism. Increasing physical activity is a great way to increase the body’s rate of metabolism. Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate which raises the body’s metabolism. Your metabolism may even remain increased for several hours after aerobic exercise. This is because muscle tissue requires more energy for recovery and repair after exercise.

Bodily processes such as metabolism rely heavily on antioxidants such as vitamin C and the B vitamins. This is an important reason for maintaining ideal nutrition through a well balanced diet and a quality liquid multivitamin supplement. Dehydration causes a decrease in the body’s temperature. In response the body stores fat to increase the body’s temperature. Make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid this weight loss trap.

Learning how to harness your metabolism is an essential tool to weight loss success. However, metabolism is a complex process and can either hurt or help your weight loss efforts. Utilizing the basal metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, and physical activity can give you the weight loss edge you have been looking for.