7:52:49 2023-09-19 252

Our metabolism is the force inside our bodies that mysteriously decides whether to convert the food we eat into a burst of energy, or extra kilos on the scales.

A "slow" or "sluggish" metabolism is often the first thing we blame when we struggle to lose weight.

As a result, a US$33 billion industry offers thousands of products promising to speed up our metabolic rate for weight-loss success.

But rather than reaching for a supplement, there are things you can do to speed your metabolism up.

What is metabolism and how does it work?

Metabolism is the term describing all the chemical reactions in our bodies that keep us alive. It provides the energy needed for essential functions like breathing and digestion.

When we refer to metabolism in the context of our weight, we're actually describing our basal metabolic rate - the number of calories the body burns at rest, determined by how much muscle and fat we have.

Many factors can affect your metabolism, including gender, age, weight and lifestyle. It naturally slows down as we age and becomes dysfunctional after dieting.

Why does our metabolism slow with age?

As our bodies age, they stop working as efficiently as before. Around the age of 40, our muscle mass starts naturally declining, and the ratio of body fat to muscle increases.

Because muscle mass helps determine the body's metabolic rate, this decrease in muscle means our bodies start to burn fewer calories at rest, decreasing our metabolic rate.

Why does our metabolism become dysfunctional after dieting?

When you lose large amounts of weight, you're likely to have lowered your metabolic rate, and it doesn't recover to the level it was pre-dieting - even if you regain weight.

This is because, typically, when we diet to lose weight, we lose both fat and muscle, and the decrease in our calorie-burning muscle mass slows our metabolism.

We can account for the expected decrease in metabolic rate from the decrease in body mass, but even after we regain lost weight our metabolism doesn't


Research shows that for every diet you attempt, the rate at which you burn food slows by a further 15% that can't be accounted for.

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