Myth: The metabolism is a mystical creature that no one truly understands… but if you want to lose weight, you better get one!
Reality: Your body’s metabolism is a system that is constantly in flux, and most people know nothing about it.
When you’re trying to lose weight, navigating the sea of nutritional information can be an overwhelming task. There are a million and one diets and schools of thought for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and losing weight, but which one is right? Or, more accurately, which one is right for you? Well, before you can figure out the answer to that question, there are some basic metabolism facts and information about the way your body utilizes food that you need to know.
First of All, What is Your Metabolism?
The dictionary describes metabolism as the chemical processes that occur within a living organism that allow it to maintain life. That’s a lot of responsibility! But for those of us who don’t speak science, ‘“your metabolism” can be a deceiving term. Metabolism is not so much a thing inside your body as it is an action that your body takes: it is the process by which your body breaks down calories and converts them into energy to fuel itself. There are a lot of things that contribute to your metabolism, both in the type of nutrients you take in, and what your body uses those nutrients for. Here are some basic facts you need to know about your metabolism:
What is BMR?
BMR, or basal metabolic rate, is the total number of calories your body needs in order to survive on a daily basis, i.e. the energy your body uses to keep you breathing, your heart pumping, and your brain working. Somewhere between 60% and 70% of the calories your body burns in one day goes towards keeping your vital organs functioning, meaning that your BMR is a key player in your metabolism.
How You Calculate BMR:
Your BMR depends on a variety of factors, including body size and composition (whether you have more muscle or fat on your body,) your age, hereditary factors, your hormones, and your health. You can get a basic estimate of what your BMR might be by googling “BMR calculator” and computing your calorie needs based on your height, weight, age and sex. Just make sure to double check this suggestion on two or more different calculators—as expected, some of these calculators are not accurate. Also keep in mind that a BMR calculator that doesn’t take into account all of the factors listed above will not be wholly accurate; it is merely a suggested calorie usage to help you plan your dietary goals. Again, this is only an estimate of what your body needs to take in to survive without any activity at all.
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