If you gain weight faster than someone else who follows the same exercise and nutrition program, you may have a sluggish metabolism to blame. The truth is that we just don’t have much control over metabolism or the way our bodies break down food for energy. Some people have a lower resting metabolic rate, and their bodies burn fewer calories than others who have a higher resting metabolic rate. Many different factors go into how fast your body burns calories while you are at rest.
Metabolism is mostly determined by genetics, and yours is probably very similar to your parents. If genetics decide you are born with more lean body mass or muscle, you burn calories faster. More calories are needed to maintain your body weight, so you can eat more without gaining pounds. Genetics also puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to metabolism. Women have a lower percentage of muscle mass than men, and so they have a lower calorie burn rate.
Age has a role in metabolism with the resting metabolic rate decreasing each year after the age of 25. Other factors that influence metabolism include weight, calorie intake and activity levels. Hormones can have an impact. If you have an underactive thyroid, your body burns calories at a lower rate.
Heredity plays the biggest role.
Genetics, gender, age and hormones are influences over which you have little control. There are ways, however, to increase the rate at which your body burns calories. If you aim to try speeding things along, first pay attention to nutritionists who warn against yo-yo dieting where you gain and lose the same pounds again and again. When you loose a lot of weight quickly, you’re at risk for “The Biggest Loser” effect.
Don’t be a big loser.
A study of 14 former “Biggest Loser” competitors showed why maintaining a big weight loss is extremely difficult. Six years after they appeared on the show, each of the contestants regained at least most if not all the weight they’d lost. Here’s why: The body is tricked into thinking you face starvation when suddenly there is much less mass to fuel. Slowing the calorie burn rate is a mechanism the body uses to save you from death. Researchers found the competitors’ metabolism dropped dramatically along with the pounds they shed. When metabolism slowed, contestants burned calories at a slower rate.
Nutritionists say the best way to counter natural decreases in metabolism is to focus on maintaining a healthy body from the beginning. They recommend trying to prevent excess fat instead of constantly trying to speed up your metabolism.
Keeping their advice in mind, here are factors that can make a slight increase in your metabolism.
Build muscle mass: You’ll be able to raise your metabolism if you can increase your muscle mass since muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Building and maintaining strength during the years before menopause is important because women lose muscle mass after that milestone. There’s evidence that building muscle mass helps maintain a higher metabolism even when you lose weight.
Fasting intermittently: Preliminary research shows intermittent fasting allows you to maintain more muscle mass than simply following a diet that restricts calories. Those on a restricted-calorie diet tend to lose both fat and muscle.
Get some sleep: Going without a good night’s rest will throw off the balance of hormones that help your body burn fuel efficiently. The same goes for living with stress. Both will raise cortisol levels that can prompt your body to hold onto excess calories.
Eat enough protein: Getting enough protein gives your body a small chance to consume more calories. Breaking down protein takes a little more energy than burning carbohydrates and fat. However, there are no foods that will speed up metabolism, nor does drinking water increase your metabolism.