What are some factors that affect basal metabolism?

First, age. BMR decreases with age. While this is a natural part of the aging process, do you know why this really decreases with age? Mostly because of muscle tissue. You lose muscle tissue as you age, and you will really lose it if you aren’t using it. This is another reason strength training is important throughout life. Strength training helps you protect your muscle tissue as you age, which in turn helps you protect your metabolism.

 Dieting can also affect muscle tissue. As you may recall, conventional diets often cause people to lose 25% of their weight in the form of muscle. What do you think would happen at the end of that diet? You lost muscle, so your metabolism is lowered, meaning that you can’t consume as many calories without regaining weight. That is again why it is important to strength train and consume quality protein while dieting- it helps to protect your muscle tissue as you lose weight.  

The next factor is growth. Have you ever watched a teenage boy eat? They seem to be able to just eat and eat and eat and they never put on any weight. They are growing, and they have a higher BMR. This also applies to pregnant women. When you’re pregnant, your BMR goes up.

 Stress also causes a rise in your BMR. When we talk about stress, think of physical stress- being very ill or recovering from surgery. Both of these are stresses to your body and increase your BMR.

 Environmental Temperature can affect your BMR. If it is either extremely hot or cold, your body will have to work a little harder to maintain temperature, and that raises your BMR.

 Another factor that affects BMR is fasting or starvation. Fasting or starvation lowers your BMR. This is a survival mechanism for your body. If you are fasting your body slows metabolism so that you don’t starve to death. Your body becomes more efficient at conserving energy and your metabolism slows. While you probably haven’t intentionally starved yourself, many of you have probably experienced this at some point when you were dieting. Have you ever hit a plateau? If so, you have experienced a drop in metabolism. When you restrict your calories for a long period of time, your body will adapt to the lower caloric intake by lowering your metabolism.

The next factor that affects your BMR is hormones. Hormones play a role in several ways. If you have hypo or hyperthryoidism you have been affected by a hormone. Hypothyroidism means low thyroid function and this results in a lower metabolism. If you have hypothyroidism your doctor probably put you on a medication to boost your thryoid function. It can be more difficult for individuals with this condition to lose weight, but it is certainly not impossible. Individuals with hypothyroidism should strength train to boost metabolism and add cardio to non Curves days.  

Another scenario that every woman has been affected by is PMS. You know how you can feel ravenously hungry before your period? Well, your BMR increases right before your period, so it makes sense that you feel hungrier. Isn’t it nice when science validates something we were already feeling?!

 Finally, the last factor that can affect BMR is caffeine. Caffeine raises BMR. Have you noticed how most people speak about their coffee consumption as though it were a bad thing? Actually, people who have up to 3-4 cups a day have less heart attacks, less strokes, less diabetes, less Alzheimer’s and many other diseases. Research has revealed that coffee is one of the best sources of antioxidants in our diet and it raises BMR. But….don’t get your hopes up- it doesn’t look like coffee can really help you lose weight. Green tea on the other hand, may help with your metabolism and weight loss. Remember, you can count tea as water. So, if you like green tea, it would be perfectly healthy to sip green tea throughout the day- hot or iced- and it may even help with your weight loss.

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