How to Reset Your Metabolism and Burn More Calories

Metabolic Age: How to Reset Your Metabolism

Remember what it was like to be young, eat whatever we want, and somehow still lose weight!?

As we age, we experience a natural decline in our metabolism that can make weight loss a little more challenging. Fortunately, our metabolic age does not have to define us (or our bodies). 

Follow along to find out what it means to have a high basal metabolic rate, how “NEAT” factors can help rev up your metabolism, and some simple tips on staying active for life. Not only will these metabolism-boosting benefits help you shed those unwanted pounds, but they will also keep you feeling your best for years to come.

What Is Basal Metabolic Rate?

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a term used to describe the amount of energy that is being expended at rest. Sometimes confused with the resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the number of calories that the body burns while at rest, the BMR refers to our body’s metabolism when our digestive system has been inactive for about 12 hours [1]. 

Having a “high” or “fast” metabolism is a quality that some individuals have where they are more likely to lose weight faster than they gain weight. 

Our BMR is determined by a range of factors including sex, height, age, and genetics. Though most of these factors are relatively permanent, studies have found that both a healthy diet and resistance training play an important role in improving lean muscle mass, encouraging fat mass reduction, and boosting BMR [2]. 

What Is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)?

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) describes the amount of energy expended during all activities that do not include eating, sleeping, or physical exercise [3, 4]. 

NEAT is a beneficial form of energy expenditure that we oftentimes don’t even consider to be "activity". Whether you’re walking to work, typing on your computer, or mowing the lawn, you’re still burning calories! 

Of course, dedicated exercise makes up a considerable portion of the total calories burned in a day for active individuals, but non-exercise activities that contribute to NEAT actually play a significant role in maximizing our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). In fact, peer-reviewed studies have found that combining moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise with non-exercise activities can play a fundamental role in weight loss to help reduce and prevent the obesity pandemic [5].

How to Increase NEAT & Burn More Calories

 

 

Having a jam-packed schedule can make it incredibly challenging to get a proper workout in. Fortunately, there are plenty of general daily activities that we can be doing to burn more calories without ever having to step foot into the gym. 

Here are some simple yet practical ways to boost NEAT and burn more calories throughout the day:

  • Stand more often

  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator 

  • Carry your groceries by hand rather than pushing a cart

  • Walk while making phone calls or listening to podcasts

  • Use a push lawnmower 

  • Tidy up around the office or house 

  • Wash your car by hand

  • Park further away from the office 

  • Spend time gardening 

  • Play with your kids

  • Take your dog for a walk 

Since losing weight is all about energy expenditure, there is no right or wrong way to burn more calories throughout the day. Though committing to planned exercise throughout the week is certainly beneficial for weight loss, these non-exercise activities help supplement your workout and offer a great way to say motivated and on track to a healthy lifestyle.  

Metabolic Age: Why the Body Burns Fewer Calories in Later Life

As we get older, it’s natural for our resting metabolic rate to slow causing our body to burn fewer calories at rest. For most individuals, there are a number of factors that play into how much or how little our metabolism slows down throughout the years.  

This is why the metabolic age is used.

Your metabolic age refers to how your basal metabolic rate (i.e. how many calories your body burns at rest) compares to that of someone else’s at your chronological age. Research has discovered that metabolic age is one of the best indicators of an individual's cardiovascular risk, body composition, and overall health status [6]. 

Here are three reasons why our bodies burn fewer calories with age: 

1. Decreased Activity Levels

One of the major contributors to our metabolic age is activity levels. For most older adults, it’s very common to engage in less physical activity compared to younger years. This is an outcome of aging muscles causing a loss in mass, strength, and flexibility, making the physical activity less comfortable and more tiring. As a result, fewer calories burned in a day can contribute to weight gain in older adults. 

2. Loss of Muscle Mass

Another factor contributing to our metabolic age is muscle mass. Since it takes more energy (or calories) to build and maintain muscle compared to fat, individuals who have more muscle tend to have a higher resting metabolic rate and faster metabolism [7]. 

Unfortunately, as we age, we naturally lose muscle mass in a process known as sarcopenia. After the age of 30, without sufficient caloric intake of protein and consistent resistance training, we can lose up to 3-5% of our muscle mass every decade. As a result, we burn calories at a slower rate, making weight loss more challenging [8]. 

3. Sex and genetics

Sex and genetics are two important factors that determine our metabolic age. Though we cannot control either, it's important to consider their effect on our metabolism.

Generally speaking, individuals identified as male at birth are shown to have a faster metabolism because they are able to build more muscle mass, have heavier bone density, and have less body fat. Together, these factors contribute to a faster metabolism [9].

In addition, our genetic makeup helps to decide our body composition, and therefore, our metabolic rate.

The Bottom Line About Resetting Your Metabolism

Under the right conditions, we are able to "reset" our metabolism and lower "metabolic age" so you can burn more calories around the clock. Some of the most effective strategies for increasing our metabolism include a combination of both exercise and non-exercise activities along with a well-rounded diet. Together, these healthy lifestyle choices can keep you on track toward weight-loss success.

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