Metabolism 101

Lifting Barbell Weight

Metabolism 101

Metabolism is the rate at which we burn the calories that we have consumed during each day. There are a number of factors that determine the speed of your metabolism.

Metabolism Factors


Metabolism food factor
Metabolism food factor

The first factor in the speed of your metabolism is the food you eat. Determining factors are:

  • How many meals you eat.
  • What kind of food you eat.
  • How much you eat during each sitting.

All of these factors can be changed to improve your metabolism.

Lean Body Mass

Some people are born able to carry more lean body mass (muscle) than others – without exercising. For the rest of us, proper exercise can increase our lean body mass substantially. The more fat your body has, the slower your metabolism will be. By exercising and building muscle you will both decrease your body fat, while increasing your lean body mass. So itʼs a win win situation.


As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. Studies tell us that after the age of 20, our bodies will lose 1/3 to 1/2 pound of muscle tissue per year if we do not exercise on a regular basis. Losing 1/3 to 1/2 pound of muscle every year after the age of 25 causes our percentage of body fat to rice significantly.

Increasing Metabolism

Because our bodies are made for survival it begins to hoard fat if it feels like it wonʼt get food for a long time. Basically, if you starve your body it will go into starvation mode. Our bodies are made to first use the nutrients in the food we eat for energy.

When the nutrients run out, the body resorts to energy from the muscles (you will lose lean muscle mass), then finally your body resorts to the bodies fat supply. This is why fad diets never work.

  • Eat More. Eat Often.This doesn’t mean sit down and pig out! This means eat smaller meals throughout the day – preferably 5 to 6. The combination of small balanced, frequent meals allows your body to utilize the nutrients it needs when it needs them. Smaller, more frequent meals stimulate your metabolic rate as your bodyʼs digestive system works and you maintain a stable glucose level. This will give you more energy, prevent hunger pains and keep you from binging.

    Lifting Barbell Weights
  • Workout With Weights.
    Weight training is a great way to increase your metabolism. Lifting weights places a high demand on your body to burn more calories for faster growth and recuperation. Your muscle mass is the single most important factor in determining how many calories you burn because itʼs a very metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn – even at rest.  Consider our manual, Working Out With Weights.
  • Aerobic Exercise. You should perform some type of aerobic exercise at least 3 times per week and youʼll not only burn calories, but also speed up your metabolism. Always keep this in mind while doing your cardiovascular exercise.

See also: Using Nature to Boost Metabolism

Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing

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