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What is metabolism?

There are a lot of myths surrounding metabolism, including that thin people are thin because they have a fast metabolism and overweight people are overweight because they have a slow metabolism. Here we look at what the term actually means and what, if anything, it can mean for your weight.

What is metabolic rate?

Metabolic rate refers to the energy you use during the day to keep your body functioning at the required level - for example, keeping your heart beating, your brain working and your lungs pumping.

In general, overweight people actually need more energy to keep their bodies working. This is because they have larger bodies and larger internal organs. However, taking the difference in body size into consideration, scientists have found little difference in metabolism between overweight people and thin people.

Muscle also requires more energy to function than fat, which explains why metabolic rate decreases with age.

Your total energy needs will be this basic metabolic rate plus the energy you need to move and partake in activities throughout the day.

The bottom line is that if you consume more calories than you expend, you will gain weight. The speed of your metabolism will not affect this.

Is it possible to speed up my metabolism?

A few substances - including caffeine - may have a small affect on your metabolism. But they also tend to speed up your heart rate or cause other side affects which aren't desirable.

Drugs that claim to speed up your metabolism are not recommended, as most of their claims are unproven.

How to burn calories the right way

Although there is nothing you can do to affect the speed of your metabolism, there are lots of things you can do to burn calories. For example, one of hour of walking will burn 200 calories and 90 minutes of football burns 600 calories.

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