Figure out your body's calorie-burning capacity and boost your metabolism

Recent research shows that if we understand the role our metabolism plays in our fluctuating weight we can learn to burn calories faster.

Unless you have an underlying medical condition, the driving factor is a balance between the energy you consume and what you use, which depends on four factors:

  • The amount of food you eat
  • The type of food you eat
  • The number of calories you burn each day through activity and exercise
  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR)

The first three are common sense, but did you know that your BMR accounts for between 60 and 70 per cent of your total energy expenditure at rest? The higher your BMR, therefore, the more energy you consume without putting on weight, but your BMR is not constant.

The following factors play a role in determining your BMR:

Weight: The more you weight, the higher your metabolic rate will be, simply because it takes more energy for a larger body to function.

Age: Children have a higher BMR because they are constantly growing. After you turn 40, your BMR drops between 2 and 5 per cent each decade.

Body Composition: This is the ratio of lean muscle to fat in your body - each pound of muscle burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just two calories a day.

Gender: Men have a higher BMR because they typically have more muscle.

So how do you increase your BMR? Take these four simple tips to mind:

1. EXERCISE REGULARLY: Working out can boost metabolism by 10 per cent, during exercise and for a few hours after. You'll also be building muscle to burn more calories in the future. Jennifer Aniston says, "If you're consistently working out, your metabolic rate is constantly at a level where it's kind of burning."

2. EAT LITTLE AND OFTEN: Digesting and absorbing food actually burns calories in the process. Some studies have found that eating smaller, more frequent meals rather than the usual three a day helps keep the metabolic rate up.

3. UP YOUR CALCIUM INTAKE: Eating more calcium has been shown to help your body burn fat and so boost your metabolic rate. It may also act as a mild appetite suppressant.

4. TURN DOWN THE HEATING: Your body uses extra energy to keep itself warm, so turn down the thermostat a degree or two to up your energy output.

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