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Ever hear someone who is overweight or prone to gaining weight easily blame their slow metabolism? It is important to properly understand metabolism for overall weight management and health.

Metabolism is the rate at which the body burns energy, which is provided in the form of calories from food. Here are some important facts and how you can change a few things to get a fast metabolism:

1)    Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – This is the minimum number of calories your body needs to sustain life daily through breathing, heartbeat and brain activity. It varies by sex, age, body size, muscle mass and hormones. Because this measurement requires absolute rest, it is tough to accurately calculate, so more often, the resting metabolic rate is considered.

2)    Resting metabolic rate (RMR) – This is your BMR plus the rate at which your body uses energy while at rest (not active). This is impacted by the body’s size (taller people have a higher RMR) and muscle mass (muscle processes more calories than fat). RMR makes up about 50-75% of your daily caloric expenditure.

3)    Other considerations – The digestive process, or the thermic effect of food, uses energy and accounts for approximately 10% of your overall metabolic rate. Climate also impact metabolism, as studies show that the RMR of people living in tropical or very cold environments is generally 5-20% higher than those in more temperate locations, as the body has to work harder in these extremes to maintain its core temperature.

4)    Physical activity – Exercise and activity boost your metabolism by increasing the need for energy during and post workouts. Regular cardiovascular workouts combined with strength training increase your muscle mass, and muscles require more energy, which raises your metabolism. So, the more active you are and the  more muscle you have, the greater your metabolism. The best thing you can do is to keep moving for a fast metabolism.

5)    Metabolism can be measured by gas analysis through direct or indirect calorimetry in a lab, but mathematical equations also are available using one’s age, sex, height, and weight to estimate BMR and RMR.