For metabolic health measures, body composition beats weight

If you’ve ever thought about your weight in relation to your overall health (who hasn’t?), you’ve probably wondered how metabolism plays a role in the equation, or even what is metabolism.

Metabolism is the complex biochemical process that produces the energy your cells need to function and keep your body healthy. “Metabolism isn’t just about weight. In fact, it has more to do with how our body uses the food we eat and converts it into fuel for energy,” Scheller shares.

In medical terminology, metabolism is measured by basal metabolic rate (BMR). Essentially, your BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to perform essential functions (eg breathing, blood circulation, hormone regulation) even when at rest. In other words, the higher your BMR, the faster your metabolism.

The aspect that most influences BMR is your lean body mass (i.e. lean muscle mass), which is the weight of everything but body fat (i.e. body water, organs, skin, bones). The higher your lean body mass, the more energy your body needs at rest (and the higher your BMR).

Since fat is not as metabolically active as lean muscle mass, the alternative is also true: if a body composition has a higher fat percentage, it requires less energy. As a result, people with lower lean muscle mass have lower BMR and slower metabolism.

As you can see, improving your metabolic rate and increasing your metabolism is the key to losing fat and gaining muscle (and it’s definitely not as simple as “calories in, calories out” ).

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