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Boost Your Metabolism

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Another great lecture that I attended at the American College of Sports Medicine conferene was on your metabolism. Liz Applegate, Ph.D., FACSM, director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis, says resting metabolic rate – the amount of calories the body burns in a resting state to keep internal organs operating – can be improved through lifestyle changes.

The easiest way, she says, to calculate metabolic rate is to figure 10 calories burned for every pound of body weight for women, and 11 calories for every pound of body weight for men. For instance, a 130-pound woman has an approximate resting metabolic rate of 1,300 calories per day.

However, Applegate says certain key factors affect the exact metabolic rate for individuals. These factors can be altered in your favor to stimulate more calorie burn – and, in turn, weight loss.

Body composition
How it affects metabolism: Muscles, the workhorses of the body, use more calories to operate than fat. So, the more fat you have, the fewer calories your body will naturally burn.
How you can change it: Replace that fat with muscle. Strength training creates lean muscle mass.

How it affects metabolism: Resting metabolic rate generally drops 2 to 3 percent every decade after age 20, typically due to a loss of lean mass.
How you can change it: Stop the loss of lean mass through strength training.

How they affect metabolism: Thyroid hormones have the biggest impact on resting metabolic rate because they tell cells how much oxygen to use, or how many calories to burn. Thyroid activity typically slows after age 40 in women, accounting for some women’s mid-life weight gain.
How you can change it: In general, you can’t. Applegate says not to buy the hype about supplements that claim to increase thyroid activity. Focus your efforts on other factors that impact metabolic rate.

Calorie restriction
How it affects metabolism: Although cutting an extreme amount of calories from your daily diet seems like the pathway to quick weight loss, self-starvation actually slows metabolic rate down significantly.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.