What Factors Influence The Metabolic Rate?

A good metabolism could be the biggest asset one can be blessed with. A sluggish metabolism can be a real hurdle in someone’s weight loss efforts.There are certain factors which influence the metabolism in an individual. And there are ways in which the rate at which your body burns calories can be prevented from taking a downward plunge.

Metabolic rate

, also referred to as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the rate at which the body spends energy to maintain the basic functioning of the vital organs of the body. More accurately, it is the energy needed for the body to maintain a state of rest.

In the United States of America, 34% of the population above the age of 20 is obese. Childhood obesity and teenage obesity are rampant with signs of early onset of chronic liver diseases and Type 2 diabetes. Obesity is the greatest health care this nation is facing. It is important to understand the factors affecting metabolism and take steps to improve it.


Factors that affect the metabolic rate

  • Size of the Body

    : The greater the size of the body and greater the surface area, greater would be the RMR. Hence, bigger sized individuals burn calories at a higher rate than smaller sized ones.

  • Age

    : It is said that the RMR declines by 5% for every decade after the age of 40. This is the reason behind the fact that increasing age makes it difficult to lose weight. The scientific reason behind this would be the decrease in muscle mass in the body with age. The lesser the muscle mass the lower the metabolism.Women have lesser muscle mass than men. Consequently men have a higher metabolism than women.

  • Gender

    : The RMR is lower in women by 5 – 10% than men of the corresponding size and age. This is again attributed to the presence of excess fat tissue and less of lean muscle mass compared to the other gender.

  • Body Composition

    : The body composition in an individual also can make a lot of difference. Excess fat in the body tends to bring down the RMR. Presence of lean muscle mass increases the rate of burning calories.

  • Genetics

    : This is something beyond ones control. You could be born with good genes which can kick in a good metabolism in your body.

  • Hormones

    : Hormones, especially in women can take the metabolism on a joy ride. Thyroid hormone and catecholamines can be major determinants of the RMR. An increased secretion of these can wake up the sleeping monster. Sometimes a very low calorie diet not enough to maintain the RMR can decrease the secretion of the T3 thyroid hormone and the brain chemical norepinephrine. This particular occurrence is associated with a low RMR. During the latter phase of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase) women may experience an increase in the RMR as much as by 5%. Women nearing the menopause years may see a lot of changes in their RMR due to changes brought forth by the hormones.

  • Climate and Body Temperature

    : In tropical or warmer climates, people burn more calories than in the temperate or cooler climates. The same reason applies to the fact that people burn more in summer than in winter. The body has to expend more energy in fighting the heat and keeping the body cool. Exercise done in a heated environment makes the body burn additional calories. Similarly in colder weather the presence of body fat and warm clothing can decrease the RMR. Body fat can have a blubber like effect in cold temperatures.

  • Health

    : In an infirm state of health or injury the RMR of the body increases.

  • Physical Fitness

    : People who exercise regularly and are fit burn calories at a higher rate rate than those who do not exercise. This is because they have less fat and more muscles. 1 pound of muscle burns 6 times more energy than 1 pound of fat. Hence, all the emphasis on weight training.

  • Stimulants

    : There could be some natural and artificial stimulants which can give a hand to the dipping RMR. Natural herbs like garcinia and hoodia can increase metabolic rate. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine also have a thermogenic (which increases body temperature) effect on the body and can increase the

    metabolic rate


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