When working towards weight loss, it is important not only to cut calories but also to maximize your metabolic rate at the same time. When you combine the two, you can eat more and your body becomes more efficient.
Your metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns in a day. You can be the same height and weight as your friend, but you can have drastically different metabolic rates. This is why weight loss programs don't work the same way for everyone.
There are many things that can affect your metabolism. Age is a big one -- our burn rate decreases 2 percent to 5 percent on average every decade. This is why many women and men in their 40s and 50s feel the weight creeping up more than in their earlier years. Men have higher metabolisms than women simply because they have more muscle mass. More muscle equals a higher burn rate. Genetics also plays a role.
No matter where your metabolic rate is today ,there are ways to maximize it. One simple strategy can increase your burn rate through the day. This is something that people in other countries do regularly and that we are missing more and more in the American culture. It is part of the reason why people in France and Italy can eat higher calorie meals and yet not have the weight issues we have in our country. What is this big secret? I like to call it activity of daily living.
What do I mean by this?
We know that regular exercise such as biking, walking, or hiking will help raise your metabolism during the activity and for several hours after. However, even simple movements such as taking the stairs, house cleaning, or simple yard work can help increase your burn rate. Any time you can increase your heart rate even for five minutes you get a small metabolic rise.
In other countries, people walk to run errands, they take the stairs, and do more physical chores than we do in the United States. If you think about it, I bet you can get through a day with doing nothing more than walking to and from your car. We have created such an efficient lifestyle in the U.S.A. that we don't really need to move anymore. We don't even have to get up to turn the television or radio on. This makes our lives run more smoothly so we can get more done, but in the end it is affecting our health.
If you lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle and do some sort of formalized exercise once a day you're off to a good start, but you are only giving yourself one "metabolic rise" during the day. By doing the little things that get your heart rate up even for a short amount of time, you will get little rises in your metabolism over the course of a day. This adds up and helps with weight loss and overall wellness.