Metabolism, metabolic rate and metabolic adaptation. The three pillars of weight loss that you should know about!
If you have googled this question then you are on the track to learning some eye-opening knowledge about how we burn calories. But what is metabolism and how to speed it up? Don’t worry you’ll get your answers in this article.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the amount of calories your body is able to burn per day at rest, it is your body’s ability to convert food that you have consumed into energy. In other words, when you are napping or just relaxing your body will be burning a small amount of calories, for example, when you fidget around or even just think. Your brain alone uses approximately 500 calories per day just to function! The point here is that metabolism is the amount of calories your body can burn without any physical activity, on its own using and using itself.
Now, what is a metabolic rate?
Metabolic rate refers to the speed your body is able to burn those consumed calories. Think of it as a car (your body) burning fuel (calories). When you press on that gas pedal you will go faster and use more fuel right? Well it is the same with your body. When your body’s metabolism is fast you will be burning more calories and if it is slow then you will be burning fewer calories per day. If this is the case then you should look into burning more calories through exercise or speeding up your metabolism techniques which you’ll learn soon.
What is metabolic adaptation?
Metabolic adaptation refers to the changes in the metabolic rate depending on your consumption of food. In other words, your metabolic rate will change and adapt depending on how many calories you eat. For instance, if you go on a diet and reduce your calories then your metabolic rate will also slow down roughly in line with your calories. If you increase your calories, your metabolic rate will also increase. This can take a couple months depending on how drastic the change is.
When metabolic adaptation occurs, this is when you reach a plateau and need to make further changes to progress more. To identify when you have reached a plateau you need to observe your body. For example, if you are dieting and one day you feel the caloric restriction is good and you are not as hungry as normal then that’s a sign you need to make a change.
If you’d like to know what triggers metabolic adaptation then you can check out this post that discusses your body’s defence system that also sets you up for weight regain after a diet.
How does metabolism and metabolic adaptation affect weight loss?
Great question! As you have read earlier when you reduce your calories your metabolism slows down and if you increase your calories your metabolism speeds up right? Well this metabolic adaptation occurs over several months. Therefore, once you have completed your diet because you are happy with your weight loss then you, or most people, tend to go back to eating the pre-diet calories. The issue with that is that by that point your metabolism is too slow to process that amount of calories meaning you are now overeating.
For example, if you initially ate 2000 calories per day and decided to go on a diet where you reduce your calories to 1,500 calories per day then your metabolism will adapt over a couple of months to burn 1,500 calories per day. So, when you go back to eating the initial 2,000 calories, you will be over eating by 500 calories until your metabolism adapts again. However, by the time your metabolism adapts you’d have gained weight.
Slow metabolism symptoms
People who have a slow metabolism may suffer from the following symptoms (News18, 2018):
- Unexplained weight gain
- Chronic Fatigue
- Mood swings
- Sugar cravings
How to increase your metabolism?
There are several techniques to increase your metabolism and limit weight regain.
1. The most effective post diet technique is a reverse diet, and just as the name suggests instead of reducing your calories, you simply reintroduce calories back into your diet and gradually increasing your daily calories. You can find out more here.
2. Consume Thermogenic foods. These foods generate heat within the body so you naturally burn more calories at rest. You can find more information on this here. Alternatively you can try thermogenic fat burners. One that has been sufficiently researched is fucoxanthin, check it out here.
3. Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), this is a a short to medium length workout that is of high intensity. Normally people believe that you burn fat during HIIT workouts but the truth is that you actually burn more sugars through high intensity workouts but the way they burn fat is by speeding up your metabolism. These kinds of workouts are AMAZING for speeding your metabolism.
An example of a HIIT workout.
Perform the following exercises 3 times, with minimum to NO break.
1. 20 star jumps
4. 15 Press ups
Whatever changes you make to your diet, your body will adapt, if you want to lose or gain weight you need to make drastic changes. For example, increasing or decreasing your calories dramatically. But if you wish to speed it up the best way to do it is to make gradual changes to your diet. If you have enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our newsletter below. We will notify you when a new article is uploaded, you will get nutrition tips and exclusive offers!Also, if you sign up today you can download 20 FREE nutrition and exercise tips as well as 6 fat loss recipes. Subscribe below to download.
Mayo Clinic. (2019). Can you boost your metabolism?. [online] Available at:
[Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].
News18. (2018). 7 Prominent Signs of Sluggish Metabolism. [online] Available at: https://www.news18.com/news/indiwo/wellness-7-prominent-signs-of-sluggish-metabolism-1681509.html [Accessed 8 Nov. 2019].
Publishing, H. (2019). Does Metabolism Matter in Weight Loss? – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard
Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/does-metabolism-
matter-in-weight-loss [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].