How does exercise affect my metabolism?

Most people automatically assume that if you exercise, you’ll speed up your metabolism. While this is more or less true, it’s not as cut and dry as that, just like it’s not as cut and dry to simply say that if you work out, you’ll lose weight. There are a lot more factors at play. 

What is metabolism?

At its core, metabolism is just the process by which your body burns calories to get energy. For a normal person, about 60-75% of the calories consumed are used for your bodily functions — keeping you alive. This process is called your resting metabolic rate. The other 25-40% of the calories consumed can be used for exercising or other activities. This is your physical activity energy expenditure. Both of these come together to make up your total metabolism.

If you’re looking to increase, or speed up, your metabolism, then, you’re trying to find a way to get your body burning more calories, so that it’s storing fewer calories as fat. 

What does exercise do to my metabolism?

The more you exercise, the more calories are burned via your physical activity energy expenditure, but in addition to increasing the number of calories burned this way, exercising can also increase the amount of calories your body uses for its bodily functions. Exercise effectively boosts your resting metabolic rate. 

But, like we said, it’s not that simple. Not all kinds of exercise will boost your resting metabolic rate. The best exercise options for boosting your resting metabolic rate are weight lifting, running and jogging — anything that heavily uses your muscles. Aerobic exercises do much less for your metabolism. 

So, if you want to speed up your metabolism, you’ll want to heavily focus on muscle-intensive exercise. If you really love aerobics, start blending your aerobic exercise with some HIIT workouts, for better results. Add weight lifting into your routine. 

Metabolism myths

Don’t, however, just assume that you can boost your metabolism through exercise and then not have to give up your favorite foods to lose weight. You can really only lose minimal pounds through exercise alone. Dietary intervention is necessary if losing weight is your end game.

Also, don’t think that exercising is just going to make you eat more, because your metabolism will be working harder — leaving you starving on the sidelines. Studies have shown that those who work out regularly eat the same amounts on days they exercise as they do on days they don’t exercise. 

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