All Things Metabolism

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is regulated by hormones and enzymes, which control the speed and efficiency of metabolic reactions. Factors such as age, gender, genetics, body composition, and activity level influence your metabolic rate—the speed at which your body burns calories to perform these metabolic processes. In essence, metabolism is the sum of all the biochemical processes that occur in your body to keep you alive and functioning. It's a dynamic and intricate system that constantly adjusts to meet your body's energy needs based on various internal and external factors.


Is there a difference between BMR & RMR?

The difference between Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Resting Metabolic Rate(RMR) Basal metabolic rate (BMR) and resting metabolic rate (RMR) are both measures of the energy your body needs to maintain basic physiological functions while at rest, but there are subtle differences between them:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): BMR specifically refers to the minimum amount of energy your body requires to sustain basic life functions, such as breathing, circulation, and maintaining body temperature, while at complete rest. It is typically measured under strict conditions, such as waking up in the morning after a full night's sleep, in a fasting state, and in a thermoneutral environment (neither too hot nor too cold). BMR represents the energy expended solely for these essential bodily functions, without considering factors like digestion or physical activity.
  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): RMR is similar to BMR, but it includes a slightly broader range of conditions under which the measurement can be taken. While BMR is measured under very controlled conditions, RMR can be measured in a more relaxed state, such as after a few hours of fasting or in a quiet, comfortable environment. RMR also considers the energy expended during activities like digesting food (the thermic effect of food) and other very light activities performed while resting, such as sitting quietly or standing. RMR tends to be slightly higher than BMR because it includes these additional factors beyond the basic physiological functions.


What are the benefits of knowing my RMR?

Understanding your RMR allows you to tailor your diet and exercise plan to your individual calorie needs. You can adjust your calorie intake to create a calorie deficit for weight loss, or maintain your weight by consuming the appropriate number of calories. By knowing your RMR, you can set realistic weight loss goals and create a sustainable calorie deficit. This can help you lose weight at a healthy and steady pace, rather than resorting to extreme or unsustainable measures. Rapid weight loss or extreme calorie restriction can lead to metabolic adaptation, where your body adjusts to lower calorie intake by slowing down metabolism. Knowing your RMR helps you avoid excessive calorie deficits that could trigger this adaptation, promoting more consistent weight loss over time. Understanding your RMR allows you to distribute your calorie intake throughout the day in a way that optimally fuels your body. You can prioritise nutrient-dense foods and make informed choices about portion sizes and meal timing to support your energy needs. Monitoring your calorie intake in relation to your RMR provides valuable feedback on your progress toward your weight management goals. It helps you stay accountable and make adjustments as needed to stay on track. Knowing your RMR can help you determine the appropriate level of physical activity to complement your calorie intake. You can tailor your workouts to support your weight loss or maintenance goals while avoiding overtraining or underfueling.


Is it possible to damage my metabolism?

Metabolism is a complex process influenced by various factors, and while it doesn't necessarily "become damaged" in the same way as a machine might break down, it can certainly become inefficient due to several reasons.

  • Consistently consuming a diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and low in essential nutrients can negatively impact metabolism. These foods can lead to insulin resistance, where cells become less responsive to insulin, impairing glucose metabolism and potentially leading to weight gain and metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes.
  • Prolonged stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can disrupt metabolic processes. High cortisol levels can increase appetite, promote fat storage, and lead to insulin resistance, all of which contribute to weight gain and metabolic dysfunction over time.
  • Sedentary behaviour can slow down metabolism because the body adapts to conserve energy when physical activity is limited.
  • Regular exercise, especially strength training, helps build muscle mass, which boosts metabolism and enhances calorie burning even at rest.
  • Inadequate sleep disrupts hormone regulation, including those involved in metabolism. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of ghrelin (hunger hormone) and decrease levels of leptin (satiety hormone), leading to overeating and weight gain. It can also impair glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, increasing the risk of metabolic disorders.
  • Metabolism naturally slows down with age due to changes in hormone levels, muscle mass, and activity levels. As a result, older adults may require fewer calories to maintain their weight and may be more prone to weight gain if dietary and activity levels remain unchanged.
  • Genetic factors can influence metabolism, affecting how efficiently your body burns calories and processes nutrients. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to conditions like obesity or metabolic syndrome, which can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight and metabolism.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and Cushing's syndrome, can affect metabolism and lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Medications, such as corticosteroids and some antidepressants, can also influence metabolism.
  • Repeated cycles of weight loss and regain, known as yo-yo dieting, can disrupt metabolism and make it harder to lose weight over time. This pattern can lead to metabolic adaptations that promote fat storage and hinder weight loss efforts in the long term.


Can a ‘damaged’ Metabolism be repaired?

Yes, in many cases, a ‘damaged’ metabolism can be repaired or improved with lifestyle changes and targeted interventions. While some factors, such as genetics and certain medical conditions, may influence metabolism to a degree that cannot be completely reversed, many of the common causes of metabolic dysfunction can be addressed.

  • Switching to a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, can help improve metabolic function.
  • Avoiding processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates can reduce inflammation and support insulin sensitivity.
  • Engaging in regular physical activity, including both cardiovascular exercise and strength training, is essential for boosting metabolism and maintaining muscle mass.
  • Exercise increases caloric expenditure, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances overall metabolic health.
  • Incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular relaxation practices can help lower cortisol levels and mitigate the negative effects of chronic stress on metabolism.
  • Prioritising sufficient sleep and establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate hormones involved in metabolism, such as leptin and ghrelin. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support metabolic health.
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important for maintaining optimal metabolic function. Dehydration can slow down metabolism and impair the body's ability to burn calories efficiently.
  • Addressing underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or hormonal imbalances, with appropriate medical treatment can help improve metabolic function and support weight management efforts. ​​

Repairing a damaged metabolism takes time and consistent effort. It's important to be patient and persistent with lifestyle changes, as even small improvements in diet and exercise habits can have significant long-term benefits for metabolic health.

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