by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

Metabolism is a process that involves biochemical and hormone reactions by which your body converts everything you eat and drink into energy. Age, Gender, Heredity and Body Size and Composition are all factors that affect metabolism. Metabolism directly impacts one’s fitness levels.

  • Age: For many, metabolism decreases 5 percent each decade after the age of 40. This is due to a loss in muscle mass. Muscle takes more energy to properly function, so it burns calories faster than fat or any other tissue.
  • Gender: Men usually have more muscle mass than women, and therefore metabolism is generally higher for men. Since women generally have less muscle mass, fat deposits tend to stay in the body longer, especially after the childbearing years.
  • Heredity: The way your metabolism works may be in your genes. Every function in your body is determined by your genes, including basal metabolism. The expression of those genes, like the rate in which your body burns fat, may be inherited; which means that it may run in your family.
  • Body size and composition: People with a larger body mass burn calories faster.

In addition to metabolism, Digestion and Physical Exercise determines the way your body metabolizes food and burns calories. The body needs essential nutrients—chemicals the body itself cannot synthesize—to maintain a steady metabolism. Major food groups like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins supply these essential nutrients. Minerals and vitamins do not contribute directly to the body’s metabolism, but they play an important role in metabolic pathways.

A healthy eating plan that includes a good balance of fresh foods from all food groups is key to having an adequate metabolism. Did you know that there are some foods that may increase your metabolism? This is because they contain important elements that are vital to maintain a steady metabolism, they take more calories to break down in the digestive system, or they contain protein.

Consider incorporating these nine foods into your metabolism-increasing diet:

  1. Green tea
  2. Coffee:
  3. Milk
  4. Egg whites
  5. Lean meats
  6. Water
  7. Chili peppers
  8. Whole grains
  9. Lentils

Others habits that may increase metabolism are:

  • Increasing daily physical activity
  • Exercise
  • Eating regularly