Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 21st 2016 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, March 21, 2016
You ve probably heard people blame their weight
on a slow metabolism, but what does that mean?
Is metabolism really the culprit? And if so, is it pos-
sible to rev up your metabolism to burn more calo-
It s true that metabolism is linked to weight. But
contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely
the cause of excess weight gain. It s your food and
beverage intake and your physical activity that ulti-
mately determine how much you weigh.
Metabolism is the process by which your body con-
verts what you eat and drink into energy. During this
complex biochemical process, calories in food and
beverages are combined with oxygen to release the
energy your body needs to function. Even when you re
at rest, your body needs energy for all its "hidden"
functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting
hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The
number of calories your body uses to carry out these
basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate
---what you might call metabolism.
Several factors determine your individual basal
metabolic rate, including:
• Your body size and composition. The bodies of
people who are larger or have more muscle burn more
calories, even at rest.
• Your sex. Men usually have less body fat and
more muscle than do women of the same age and
weight, burning more calories.
• Your age. As you get older, the amount of muscle
tends to decrease and fat accounts for more of your
weight, slowing down calorie burning.
Energy needs for your body s basic functions stay
fairly consistent and aren t easily changed. Your basal
metabolic rate accounts for about 70 per cent of the
calories you burn every day. In addition to your basal
metabolic rate, two other factors determine how many
calories your body burns each day:
• Food processing (thermogenesis). Digesting,
absorbing, transporting and storing the food you con-
sume also takes calories. This accounts for 100 to 800
of the calories used each day. For the most part, your
body s energy requirement to process food stays rel-
atively steady and isn t easily changed.
• Physical activity. Physical activity and exercise---
such as playing tennis, walking to the store, chasing
after the dog and any other movement---account for
the rest of the calories your body burns up each day.
Physical activity is by far the most variable of the
factors that determine how many calories you burn
It may be tempting to blame your metabolism for
weight gain. But because metabolism is a natural
process, your body has many mechanisms that regulate
it to meet your individual needs. Only in rare cases
do you get excessive weight gain from a medical prob-
Metabolism and weight loss:
How you burn calories
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
lem that slows metabolism, such as Cushing s
syndrome or having an underactive thyroid
Unfortunately, weight gain is complicated.
It is likely a combination of genetic makeup,
hormonal controls, diet composition, and
the impact of environment on your lifestyle,
including sleep, physical activity and stress.
All of these factors result in an imbalance
in the energy equation. You gain weight
when you eat more calories than you burn.
You can burn more calories with:
• Regular aerobic exercise. Includes activ-
ities such as walking, bicycling and swim-
ming. Include at least 30 minutes of physical
activity in your daily routine.
• Strength training. This helps counteract
muscle loss associated with aging and is a
key factor in weight loss.
(The Mayo Clinic)
TRICKS FOR BURNING CALORIES
Burning those calories? Some tricks:
• Become a fan of green tea. Studies indicate that green
tea can increase metabolic rate by four to five per cent.
Feel free to go for seconds---it has only two calories per
cup (sans sweetener, of course).
• Drink more water. A German study discovered that
downing two eight-ounce glasses of H2O improved calorie
burning by 30 per cent in as little as 10 minutes, and the
effect lasted for more than an hour.
• Pucker up. Add fresh lemon juice to your tea or
water---it's loaded with vitamin C. Arizona State University
researchers found that exercisers who don't get enough C
may zap 25 per cent fewer calories during a workout.
• Get silly! A classic study published in the International
Journal of Obesity revealed that laughing sparks a small
increase in calorie burning. (We did the math: 15 giggly
minutes melts up to 40 calories!) (http://news.health.com)
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