Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism is the process by which the human body converts the calories in food and beverages into energy. It is actually a biochemical action that is necessary for life to exist and for a body to sustain itself. The energy that is used to regulate heart rate, circulate blood, breathe and secrete hormones is converted from calories that are combined with oxygen through the metabolic process. This energy is necessary to sustain the body at rest as well as during exercise.

  1. A basal metabolic rate or BMR is the actual number of calories that a person’s body requires to function on a daily basis without additional exercise. This is the ideal number of calories for a body at rest to function normally. Measuring a basal metabolic rate allows for a better understanding of the actual number of calories required for normal daily activities. It also makes it much easier to determine how many calories should be removed in order for the person to lose weight. When choosing a restricted calorie diet, determining the basal metabolic rate should be the first requirement. Armed with this knowledge it is much easier to determine how many calories should be removed from a diet or how many calories should be burned through exercise.
  2. There are several factors that affect a body’s basal metabolic rate. The size of the person determines the rate that calories are burned. In general, a larger person with more muscle mass will have a faster resting metabolic rate than a smaller person. The muscles require large amounts of energy to sustain them even during rest. This forces the metabolism to work harder to keep up with the demand for energy.
  3. A male will usually have a faster resting metabolism than a female. Because women tend to carry less lean muscle, they also normally have a slower basal metabolic rate. This is generally true of men and women of the same age and weight. Age does affect the metabolism of both men and women due to the loss of muscle mass.
  4. One of the issues that dieters tend to encounter when they try to lose weight is a slow-down in body metabolism. Starvation diets cause the body to slow normal processes to actually decrease the number of calories required to sustain the body. This is one of the reasons why many diets almost always fail. When a body is subjected to a starvation situation, it compensates by saving energy.
  5. To use a basal metabolic rate to increase weight loss, the best plan to follow is a calorie restricted diet that just meets the needs of the body’s resting BMR. Adding exercise to this plan causes the body to work harder and burn more calories to sustain itself even at rest. This creates a deficit between the number of calories required to function at rest and the number of calories burned. Exercise also quickly adds muscle to the body which again increases the BMR.
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Clyde Navarro

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