Metabolism is one of those things that everyone talks about but not many people really understand what it is. 
 
And when you are struggling to drop some body fat it can be easy to wonder whether you actually have a slow metabolism? 
 
Trust me years ago I thought the same. 
 
So, in this blog I want to clear up all the confusion about metabolism, explain what it is and inform you and cannot change. 
 
So, when you think about your metabolism you are basically looking at everything that contributes towards using calories on a daily basis, this is also known as TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) but for the purpose of this blog we will call it your total metabolism. 
 
We break down total metabolism into four sections and by understanding each section you will see that your current views on metabolism could be incorrect. 
 
BMR (Basal metabolic rate) 
 
The first part that makes up your metabolism is your BMR and this is sometimes what people think their total metabolism is. BMR is the energy your body uses at rest to maintain normal cellular function and in essence what is required as a minimum to keep you alive when you are lying down not moving. 
 
Now although BMR can be influenced by changes in weight and sex you are not quite as different to other people as you would think. There is no reason why you would have a massively lower BMR compared to someone else you know. The main differences to total metabolism will be down to the other sections below. It is important to know that muscle mass is more metabolically demanding than fat mass so another good reason to have more muscle mass. But we aren’t talking huge numbers. 
 
BMR makes up around 60% of your total metabolism. 
TEF (Thermic effect of food) 
 
TEF is the energy your body uses when breaking down food that you ingest. Yes, you lose calories when you eat as your body works to break food down and use it within the body. It’s important to know that different macronutrients require different amounts of energy to break them down (% of the total calories of that food). Around 3-5% of energy is used to breakdown fat, 5-10% for carbs and a whopping 20-30% for protein. Now you know why you get the meat sweats after a big rack of ribs lol. 
 
Of course, most balanced meals will contain a range of fats, carbs, and protein so the thermic effect of the meal will probably be around 15% ish. 
 
TEF accounts for around 10% of your total metabolism. 
NEAT (Non exercise activity thermogenesis) 
 
NEAT is the energy we use every day doing things that are required to live our lives and are non-conscious choices of exercise. Things like getting out of your chair, washing the dishes but also things like the speed of your speech, fidgeting and hand movement. NEAT is the part of your metabolism that can really make a big difference and is very different from person to person. 
 
A gardener will have a much higher NEAT than an office worker and have you ever met those people who are always very lean and have an almost nervous energy about them. They struggle to sit still and are always doing something. There have been studies that show part of your NEAT is genetic, not the work part of course but the fidgeting, hand movement and speech. 
 
Now although you can’t change the genetic part you can make more choices to do things like walk more, using a standing desk or get up and increase how much you move each day. Your daily step count will form part of your NEAT. 
 
NEAT contributes around 20% of your total metabolism so is quite a big deal. 
EAT (Exercise activity thermogenesis) 
 
The last part is the calories expended during exercise. Whether the exercise is lifting weights, playing sport or going for a run. These calories will of course contribute towards your daily expenditure. However, this is only about 10% of your total metabolism on average. Of course, for those who train multiple times a day this would be much higher, but you can now see how things like NEAT and controlling your nutrition can make a bigger difference. 
 
But as mentioned earlier having more muscle mass is a good thing so don’t just think about the calories expended but also what the extra muscle mass might do for your total metabolism. 
So, there you are. There are a lot of things that make up your metabolism. Things you can’t control but a lot of things you can like moving more, getting in some daily exercise and also having a good amount of protein in your diet. Hopefully this blogs clears up a lot of things and also makes you realise that you probably don’t have a slow metabolism but instead just some habits you need to change and new habits to install. 
I hope you found this blog useful. For any follow up questions on the above please don't hesitate to get in touch and also enquire about online coaching
Tagged as: Dieting
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