If you want to keep your metabolism revved up, it is important to get an adequate amount of sleep, exercise, and water and also to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. But on the quest for a speedier metabolism, there are certain roadblocks you should avoid to ensure you don’t do any unintentional harm. Here are 10 factors that may play a role in your metabolism function.
It may seem like a no-brainer that eating junk food and having a fast metabolism doesn’t go together, but it actually goes deeper than that. Any excess of calories can lead to weight gain, but as registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick explains, “junk food, in particular, requires a lot less energy from the body (known as the thermic effect) to process and break down, compared to complex carbohydrates or protein.” While the latter requires more of a calorie expenditure to break down, the former gets broken down quickly, so quickly in fact that you may find yourself hungry soon after eating, sluggish from a sugar crash, or bloated from a sodium overload. Eating junk food can also affect gut microbiota and have an impact on one’s resting metabolic rate.
Muscle tissue contributes approximately 20% to your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) versus 5% for fat tissue. TDEE is the term used to describe how much energy is used (or how many calories are burned) by an individual during a 24-hour period. Some studies have shown that an increase of about 4.5 lbs of muscle mass through resistance/strength training would increase the resting metabolic rate by about 50 kilocalories per day. In the same way, declining muscle mass slows metabolism, which tends to happen as we age or become less active.
As you age, your metabolic rate generally slows down, partly due to a loss of muscle tissue, but also because of hormonal and neurological changes. The older you get, the more important it is to exercise and be mindful of what you eat to stay healthy in the years ahead.
People with bigger bodies tend to have a larger BMR because they usually have larger internal organs and a greater fluid volume to maintain. Taller people have a larger skin surface, which means their bodies may have to work harder to maintain a constant temperature.
As men are usually larger than women and have more muscle mass as well, they generally have a faster metabolism.
Genetics can play a role in determining whether you have a slower or faster metabolism, and some genetic disorders can also affect your metabolism. While we can’t change what is found in our genetic pool, maintaining a healthy diet and staying active may help keep it revved up.
Regular exercise increases muscle mass and encourages your body to burn kilojoules at a faster rate, even when at rest. A mix of cardiovascular activity and weightlifting will allow you to burn calories at a steady rate and build up muscle at the same time, which will lead to greater weight loss when paired with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
Hormonal imbalances caused by certain conditions, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, slow down or speed up your metabolism respectively. If you think you have a thyroid condition, make sure to speak to an endocrinologist to get a definitive diagnosis. These imbalances can be managed with certain medications, dietary changes, and surgery.
The temperature can also have an effect on your metabolism; when you are exposed to extreme hot or cold weather the body has to work harder to maintain its normal temperature and that increases the metabolic rate.
Recreational Drugs and Medications
Caffeine and nicotine can increase your metabolic rate, while medications including some antidepressants and anabolic steroids can contribute to weight gain regardless of what you eat. If you are planning to start a new medication, make sure to speak to your doctor first to find out about the potential side effects and if there are any interactions with your diet and other medications.