Canyon Ranch Blog

Understanding Metabolism

You may have heard that certain people naturally have high or low metabolisms, and therefore have a harder or easier time losing weight. While it’s true that genetics play a part, your metabolism is not predetermined—lifestyle affects it, too. Understanding what metabolism is and how yours works is the first step in doing what you can to maximize its potential.

Calories In Versus Calories Out
When people talk about metabolism, they are generally referring to metabolic rate—the rate at which the body expends energy, or burns calories. Your metabolic rate for a 24-hour period is often called your total energy expenditure (TEE), and is expressed as calories.

Your body burns calories through physical activity—taking a walk or climbing a flight of stairs. But it also burns them by performing the most basic physiological functions. For example, breathing, maintaining body temperature and pumping blood around the body are all processes that require energy 24 hours a day. In fact, about 60 to 75 percent of your TEE is comprised of this type of passive calorie burn, known as resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Many factors influence whether someone has a high or low resting metabolic rate, and thus burns more or less calories during the day without even trying. These include:

  • Genetics Although there are things you can do to increase or decrease your RMR, some people may be genetically predisposed to faster or slower metabolism.
  • Lean Body Mass Lean muscle tissue requires more oxygen than fat tissue does, which means your body has to spend more energy to maintain it. That’s why the more lean muscle (and thus, less body fat) you have, the higher your RMR will be.
  • Total Body Weight and Size A larger, heavier body burns more calories at rest than a small one. So as you lose weight, your RMR will decrease.
  • Age As you get older, your RMR slows down and your body burns fewer calories at rest. This is due to fluctuating hormone levels, and, for most people, decreased muscle mass and less physical activity.
  • Calorie Intake Eating significantly fewer calories than your body needs, like in the case of an extreme diet, can send your body into survival mode in which calories are conserved rather than burned, lowering your RMR.
  • Meal Frequency About five to 10 percent of the calories you eat are used to fuel the digestion process. So, the more often you eat, the more calories you’ll burn digesting. (If eating more often also means eating more food throughout the day, you’ll wind up with a higher total calorie intake, too.)
  • External Factors Lifestyle and environmental factors that can affect RMR include extreme hot or cold temperatures, certain medications, herbs and supplements, smoking, stress, the health of your immune system and the amount of sleep you get.

How Many Calories Does Your Body Burn?
This basic calculations cannot take into account all of the factors that affect your metabolism, but it is still possible to estimate your metabolic rate based on your body weight and fitness level. Some simple math may open your eyes to new ways of thinking about your weight loss or maintenance strategies.

To estimate your RMR, multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 10. (This number varies by physical fitness level; you could multiply by eight if you are 50 or more pounds overweight, and by 12 if you are an elite athlete, for example.)

So, if a 150-pound woman wanted to know her resting metabolic rate, she would use this calculation:

150 x 10 = 1,500 RMR

To find your TEE, or the number of calories you can expect to burn in a day, add 30 percent to that number—an estimate for what someone will burn based on even the most sedentary lifestyle. So, assuming that that same 150-pound woman doesn’t exercise, her TEE could be calculated as follows:

1500 + (1500 x 0.3) = 1,950 TEE

Now that you have these numbers, you can think more strategically about your physical activity, diet and weight. There are a variety of ways to boost your metabolism. Just remember that your metabolic rate is uniquely yours: What you may need to do to reach and maintain a healthy weight may be quite different than what someone else does.

 

Aiming for Your Healthy Weight

These tools can help determine where you stand
Read More

Live Younger Longer

Your age doesn't come with a certain set of prescribed behaviors—it's really about the ...
Read More

Getting Started, Getting Stronger

10 tips for enjoying an effective, safe strength training routine
Read More

5 Key Practices to Remember When You Exercise

These details can be easy to overlook—but here’s why they’re important
Read More

At-Home Fitness Equipment: Our Top Picks

You don’t need a lot of equipment to get a great workout
Read More

Cardio Machines: Get Your Best Workout

Not-so-common knowledge about your favorite calorie-burning machines
Read More

5 Simple Seated Stretches

Get that ahhh feeling as you release tension and soothe your muscles and joints
Read More

6 “This-or-That” Fitness Questions Answered

Take the guesswork out of your workout and make it time well spent
Read More

5 Yoga Poses for a Stronger Spine

This practice can strengthen your spine and help you stand tall and pain-free
Read More

Use Your Own Bodyweight to Strength Train

10 exercises you can do anytime, anywhere—no equipment required
Read More

Your Workout Back-Up Plan

What to do when circumstances get in the way of your original intentions
Read More

Fitness Trackers: Motivation Through Technology

Logging your exercise sessions with technology can help you reach your goals
Read More

Book Online or Contact Us

Book Now Contact Us

Questions & Reservations

Tucson, Arizona +1 800 742 9000
Lenox, Massachusetts +1 800 742 9000
Kaplankaya, Turkey
SpaClub®, Las Vegas +1 877 220 2688
SpaClub®, At Sea Queen Mary 2: +1 866 860 4662
Oceania Cruises: +1 877 329 1924
Regency Seven Seas: +1 877 329 1924
Celebrity Cruises: +1 844 860 4662