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Fast Metabolism 101: What It Is and How to Get It

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism refers to all the chemical processes in your body. The faster your metabolism, the more calories your body requires.

The speed of your metabolism is commonly known as metabolic rate. It’s the number of calories you burn in a given amount of time, also known as calorie expenditure.



Metabolic rate can be divided into several categories:


Basal metabolic rate (BMR): Your metabolic rate during sleep or deep rest. It is the minimum metabolic rate needed to keep your lungs breathing, heart pumping, brain ticking, and body warm.


Resting metabolic rate (RMR): The minimum metabolic rate required to keep you alive and functioning while at rest. On average, it accounts for up to 50–75% of total calorie expenditure.


Thermic effect of food (TEF): The number of calories burned while your body is digesting and processing food. TEF usually represents about 10% of your total energy expenditure.


Thermic effect of exercise (TEE): The increase in calories burned during exercise.


Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): The number of calories required for activities other than exercise. This includes fidgeting, changing posture, standing, and walking around.


Contributing Factors

Numerous factors affect your metabolic rate, including:


Age: The older you get, the slower your metabolic rate. This is one of the reasons that people tend to gain weight as the age.


Muscle mass: The greater your muscle mass the more calories you burn even when resting.


Body size: The bigger you are, the more calories you burn.


Environmental temperature: When your body is exposed to cold, it needs to burn more calories to prevent your body temperature from falling.


Physical activity: All body movements require calories. The more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn. Your metabolism will speed up accordingly.




What About Genetics?


Metabolic rates can vary between people from birth. Although genetics may contribute to these differences, scientists don’t agree on the extent to which they affect metabolic rate, weight gain and obesity.


Interestingly, most studies show that obese people have a higher total and resting metabolic rate, compared to normal-weight individuals.

This partly because obese people have greater amounts of muscle to help support their extra weight. Yet, studies indicate that obese people have higher metabolic rates irrespective of their muscle mass.


In contrast, other studies show that formerly obese people have a 3–8% lower metabolic rate, on average, than those who have never been obese.


Mostly variations between individuals are due to people’s age, as well as their environment and behavior.


Can You Speed up Your Metabolism to Lose Weight?

Weight loss isn’t only about eating fewer calories. Effective weight loss programs also include strategies to increase metabolism or more simply, increase the amount of calories you burn.


Here are six simple methods.


1. Move Your Body

All body movement requires calories. The more active you are, the higher your metabolic rate.


Even very basic activity, such as standing up regularly, walking around, or doing household tasks, makes a major difference in the long run. This boost in metabolic rate is technically known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).



In severely obese individuals, NEAT may account for a significant portion of daily calorie expenditure due to the extra weight they have to carry around.


There are several ways in which you can boost NEAT. If you spend a lot of time sitting, here are a few strategies:


  • Stand up regularly and walk around

  • Take the stairs whenever possible

  • Do household tasks

  • Fidget by bouncing your legs or tapping your fingers

  • Use a standing desk


If you have a desk job, using a standing desk may increase the number of calories you burn by 16%. Another 10-person study showed that spending one afternoon standing burned an extra 174 calories compared to sitting.


Even seemingly insignificant activities like typing may increase your metabolic rate by 8% compared to doing nothing. In the same way, fidgeting can make a significant difference. One study found that people who sat motionless for 20 minutes temporarily increased their calorie expenditure by 4%, compared to when they lay motionless.

In contrast, fidgeting while seated increased calorie expenditure by a whopping 54%.