Metabolism can either refer to the process your body uses to change the food you eat into energy, or, when used in the context of weight loss, it refers to your body’s ability to burn calories and enhance weight loss. This second usage of the word is more correctly called metabolic rate. The rate at which your body burns calories is affected by factors such as your age, body size, gender and exercise.
Exercise and Metabolism
Vigorous, consistent exercise can boost your metabolism or metabolic rate, according to an article in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.” During the workout, you will burn approximately 37 percent more energy compared to when you are resting. Over a period of 14 hours after your exercise, you will burn around 190 more calories. Exercise can lead to an increase in the amount of calories your body uses even after you finish exercising.
Exercise Burns Calories
As you exercise, your body is burning more calories than when you are at rest. This excess caloric burn correlates with an increased metabolic rate. After your workout, your body continues to use more calories than normal due to increased fat metabolism, according to an article in the “American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism.” When activated, these genes produce a fatty acid called translocase and a carnitine called transferase, which are proteins that allow your cells to turn fatty tissue into energy. As the levels of these proteins rise, your body is able to turn more of your fat stores into energy.
Metabolism and Weight Loss
Your metabolism has less to do with weight loss than you might expect. Your body is constantly burning calories, even when you are resting. These calories are used to power the body’s normal functions, such as respiration, movement and nerve function. Your body will burn even more calories when you exercise. Any excess calories are stored in your body as glycogen or fat. Your metabolism will burn only the number of calories your body needs. If you ingest more calories than necessary, you will gain weight, regardless of your metabolic rate.
A slow metabolism is often blamed for weight gain. However, an actual slow metabolism is only caused by rare medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or an underactive thyroid, according to the Mayo Clinic. A slow metabolism reduces your ability to metabolize food into energy and can lead to excessive weight gain. Contact your doctor if you experience unexpected weight gain or extreme fatigue.
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism: Exercise Training Increases Lipid Metabolism Gene Expression in Human Skeletal Muscle
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: A 45-minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate for 14 Hours
- International Journal of Obesity: Energy Metabolism, Fuel Selection and Body Weight Regulation
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