Do you struggle to lose weight? A slow metabolism may be the reason!

Struggling to lose weight? Metabolic rate refers to the number of calories or kilojoules burned in a day for various body functions. Apart from a healthy diet, increasing metabolic rate can help you to use more calories and therefore lose weight more effectively!

We look at the causes of a slow metabolism and what you can do to boost your metabolic rate.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that constantly occur to keep the cells in the body working. This process converts the fuel in the food we eat and drink into energy in the body so that we can function properly.

We need energy for everything that we do and this even includes functions that take place when you are at rest such as breathing, thinking, growing, circulating blood and repairing cells. Without these metabolic reactions happening, all living things will die. Metabolism is essential to keep you alive!

In order to carry out these basic functions, your body uses a number of calories – this is known as your basal or resting metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn in a day to keep your body processes going. It makes up about 70% of the calories you burn every single day while the rest of calories are used for physical activity, exercise and daily activities.

As you can see, metabolic rate is not about how quickly you burn the number of calories but rather the number of calories you burn every day.
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What factors affect your metabolic rate?

Certain factors affect your metabolic rate and that is why we often think that people with a fast metabolism use up more calories while those with a slow metabolism need less calories.

• Body size and composition

People who are bigger built or larger will burn more calories even at rest than those who are smaller in size or slimmer. The reason for this is because they have more cells doing the work. Men usually have higher metabolic rates because they are larger in size.
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• Gender

Men tend to burn more calories than women of the same age and height because they are usually larger in size, have less body fat and more muscle.
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• Age

As you become older, you start losing more muscle, often  replaced with fat which now makes up your weight and slows down calories. Muscle loss may occur as a result of hormonal changes or wear and tear of muscles and also due to physical activity slowing down as people age.
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How to boost your metabolic rate?

Here are a few ways to boost your metabolic rate and burn more calories:

1. Be careful not to cut your calorie intake too much

Avoid cutting your calorie intake too much because this will affect your metabolic rate and slow down weight loss. When you feed your body too few calories, it goes into “starvation mode” and adjusts by surviving on making the most of what it gets from food and drink. The body then stores fat and lowers the metabolic rate so that fewer calories are needed. As a result, unwanted fat is stored and it is harder to loser the weight gained.

Rather eat smaller meals more frequently – and DON’T skip breakfast! Breakfast is a very important meal as it gets the digestive system working after a night of fasting.
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2. Eat more protein

Increase your protein intake to help your body manufacture and repair muscle tissue. Include lean meat, eggs, milk, whole grains, veggies and legumes in your daily diet.
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3. Increase strength training and muscle building 

Be sure to include strength training into your exercise routine as this will help to build muscle mass and thereby increase your metabolic rate.

Weight lifting exercises will help to prevent muscle loss which is associated with aging as well as promote weight loss.
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4. Include aerobic exercise

Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, running, cycling or swimming is a great way to burn off calories! It is recommended that you include at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine.

Increasing your activity levels together with healthy eating will help you to burn more calories and encourage weight loss.
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5. Embrace more lifestyle activities

A sedentary lifestyle is not going help you to burn calories and lose weight! Simple activities such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn, washing the car or cleaning your house can all be considered a bit of a ‘work out’ which can contribute to burning calories and weight loss.

Be mindful of ‘sneaking in’ extra exercise wherever possible. Take the stairs rather than the escalator; park a few rows away from the mall entrance rather than directly in front. Remember – every bit helps!
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- See more at: http://www.feelgoodhealth.co.za/health-hub/slow-metabolism-weight-gain-slimming#sthash.WOPvrmsB.dpuf
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