People talk about their metabolisms in the simplest of terms: the rate at which their body burns calories. And that really is about the simplest way to put it. But hold on, because the science of metabolism gets a bit more complicated than that. In fact, there are three ways to think of the metabolism process. Today, let me see if I can't help you better understand the way your metabolism works.
Your body's basal metabolism requires a lot of energy.
First, and most significant, is your body's basal or resting metabolism rate, sometimes called BMR, for short. That's the energy needed to "keep your body's lights on." Wait, let me explain. Your heart, lungs, kidneys, even your brain all need energy to do their jobs. And their combined job is to keep you alive and well. All of your body's organs need FUEL to keep running, just like the engine in your Chevy. Only it's not gasoline your organs need to do their jobs...it's food. Your body's basal metabolism requires a lot of energy, too. How much? Well, the answer may surprise you. Basal metabolism accounts for 60-75% of your body's total energy expenditure. Boy, that's a lot, huh? And here's some news that really surprised me, your brain alone uses up to 40% of the calories your body takes in each day! All the more reason to eat good foods that really feed your brain. (And we've talked about that before, too.)
Each person's basal metabolism has slightly different caloric needs.
Something else for you to think about when it comes to BMR. Each person's basal metabolism has slightly different caloric needs, based on a variety of factors. The first is AGE. The human body's basal metabolism is fastest during infancy and puberty. That's when our bodies grow fastest and why younger people need more calories than those of us who're older. But once we reach physical maturity and stop growing, our daily caloric needs decline, too. By the time you reach retirement age, you should be eating about one-third fewer calories over the course of the day than when you were, oh, twenty-something.
Then there's active metabolism which is dictated by how much you move that body of yours. (Now we're talking my language! LOL.) Active metabolism accounts for 10-30% of your daily total of calories burned. Of course, the more you move, the higher the percentage. That's why it's important to get those daily hour-long workouts in.
The third category of metabolism should really interest you, it's called diet-induced thermogenesis. Sound complicated? It's not, really. What I'm talking about is the calories your body burns to digest the foods you eat. (Whodda thought?) That's right, your body's organs have to work to digest the foods you eat and that process actually burns calories. Get this. For every 1,000 calories you eat, as many as 100 of them bare burned off within the next five to seven hours during this thermogenesis process, digesting what you just ate. See, I told you it wasn't complicated. The process accounts for 8-15% of your total calories burned.
The more calories you consume and how active you are work together to determine how much you weigh.
Of course the bottom line is, the more calories you consume and how active you are work together to determine how much you weigh. If you want to lose weight, you've got to consume fewer calories and get that body of yours moving to burn more calories. It's like I've always said, losing weight is a matter of simple arithmetic. Calories added, calories subtracted, weight-loss.
So I hope I've helped explain the metabolism puzzle a little better for you today. And I hope it also helps you better understand the role you have to play in controlling your own body's metabolism, so you can lose all of the weight you need to lose!