Metabolism and Weight Loss: How They’re Related


As many people know firsthand, losing weight can certainly be a bit difficult at times. As many people also know, it’s easy to blame weight loss struggles on having a slow metabolism.

While your metabolism is certainly related to your weight, your metabolism is not necessarily to blame for excess weight or weight loss difficulties. In order to understand why, you must first understand what your metabolism is and what factors into how many calories you burn each day.

So, what is a metabolism?

Metabolism is a term that describes a wide range of things that can all be described as the chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of an organism and its cells. Metabolism is typically broken into two categories: catabolism and anabolism. Anabolism, which is the building of the components of cells, is much less important than catabolism in the case of losing weight.

Catabolism is the breakdown of molecules, so the food and drink you consume each day, and the process of obtaining energy from such molecules. So, for matters of weight and weight loss, your metabolism is the process of your body converting the carbohydrates, sugars, and starches you consume into energy for your body’s needs and functions.

What is metabolic rate?

So, when people say they have a slow, or fast, metabolism, what does that mean? Well, even when your body is at rest throughout the day, it needs a certain amount of energy to perform all of its hidden functions. These hidden functions include things such as breathing, blood circulation, adjusting hormone levels, cell growth, tissue repair, etc.

The number of calories your body burns for these functions is called your basal metabolic rate, which basically refers to how fast of a metabolism you have. Your basal metabolic rate depends on a few factors:

·       Body Size and Composition – The bigger you are, the more calories your body burns throughout the day. This is also true with muscle as bodies with more muscles burn through more calories. This means the bigger you are and the more muscles you have, the more energy your body will need each day.

·       Sex – Men typically have significantly less body fat and more muscle compared to women around the same age and weight as them. This means that men’s bodies burn more calories throughout the day than women on average.

·       Age – As your age increases so does your body’s fat proportions. As you get older your body tends to have less muscle accounting for your weight, which means that your body will burn calories a little slower.

Does your basal metabolic rate affect weight loss?

Well, when it comes down to it, weight loss depends on taking in less calories than you take in each day. To understand your metabolism’s role in weight loss, you need to understand the three major factors that determine how many calories your body burns each day and what you can do to change them.

1.     Basal Metabolic Rate – While your basal metabolic rate accounts for almost ¾ of the calories your body burns every day, the energy your body needs to perform its basic functions remains fairly consistent. It’s not very easy to change your basal metabolic rate, so weight changes (weight loss or weight gain) does not usually occur by altering this factor.

2.     Thermogenesis – The processes involved in food intake, like the digestion, absorption, transportation, and storage of food, is known as thermogenesis. This requires calories and energy to function, which accounts for anywhere between 100 and 700 calories each day. Again, your body’s energy needs to do these things usually remains consistent.

3.     Physical Activity – Any physical activity and exercise you engage in throughout the day accounts for the rest of the calories your body will go through each day. This includes things like going for a jog, walking your dog, playing with your kids, and many other things. Of course, this is the most variable factor for how many calories your body burns each day, making it the key to any weight changes based on your body’s burning of calories.

So, how do you lose weight?

As we said above, weight loss comes down to burning more calories than your body takes in each day. So, there’s two main things you can do to ensure effective weight loss: consume less calories and exercise more often. You can also calculate your basal metabolic rate to see about how many calories your body needs each day for its basic functions. From there, you can create a calorie deficit based on how much you exercise and how much you eat each day. You can click here for more on how to lose weight.

At the end of the day, of course your metabolism is related to your weight. Much of your hunger comes from your body’s energy needs. However, weight loss ultimately comes down to burning more calories than you consume each day. So, if you want to lose weight, you should focus on exercise and diet, as your metabolism isn’t an easy factor to alter.

Of course, each and every person is different when it comes to your body’s needs. Just remember to focus on the things you can control, such as how many calories your body burns by exercise and how many calories you consume on a daily basis.  

By Russell McBurnie