Don’t be too quick to blame weight gain or obesity on a slow metabolism. Brittany Wynn, MFN, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with ProMedica Weight Loss Surgery, explains that the key to increasing your metabolism is in your hands!
What is metabolism?
Simply put, metabolism is the amount of energy your body expends each day. It is the amount of energy your body needs daily for normal body functioning, digestion, daily activities and exercise.
What affects your metabolism?
Three factors affect your metabolism and contribute to how fast, or slow, your metabolism is.
- Body composition: If you have more lean muscle mass, you will burn more calories during the day because it requires more energy.
- Gender: Men typically have more lean muscle mass and less fat mass than women do, so they have higher energy requirements and need more calories as a result.
- Activity level: The more physically active that you are throughout the day, the more energy your body needs and the higher your total energy expenditure (metabolism) will be.
“A big fallacy is that our metabolism slows down as we age,” Wynn shares. “Usually it is us that slows down.” As we get older, our lifestyles change and often become busier. Many people have sedentary desk jobs and don’t have as much time to exercise or cook at home. As a result of our lifestyle change, our metabolism slows because our body does not need as many calories as we are consuming.
Changing Your Metabolism
If you’ve started to gain weight and feel that your metabolism is slower, there is good news – it is not something out of our control. You can change your metabolism by making lifestyle changes that increase your daily energy need, therefore increasing your metabolism.
- Diet:Aim to eat smaller, balanced meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours. “Eating smaller, consistent meals makes it easier for the body to get the energy that it needs and stay within your body’s calorie/energy needs,” Wynn recommends.
- Exercise: Adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Add in strength training at least two days a week to build muscle mass. “Not only will you burn more calories during strength training, but the increased muscle mass will increase the amount of energy your body burns each day, increasing your metabolism,” Wynn explains.
- Sleep: Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. “People who sleep less than 7 hours a day tend to eat an average of 200-300 more calories per day than those who get the recommended amount of sleep,” Wynn shares.
Don’t expect drastic changes after only a couple of weeks of making changes. Make the changes part of your lifestyle, and over time, you will notice a change in your metabolism.