Simple Ways to Boost Your Metabolic Rate

Question: I hear the phrase “metabolism” related to weight loss all the time in my gym. Can you tell me what it means and how to use it for losing a few pounds?


Shreveport, La.

Answer: Metabolism is the sum of all chemical processes in the body that provide energy for the maintenance of life, says Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. It is often measured in calories per minute per kilogram of body weight, which, of course, will vary according to size and activity.


Metabolism is lowest when just waking from a restful sleep. It is highest during intense activities. The more muscle mass one has, the higher their metabolism will be, both at rest and during exercise.

Basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the caloric expenditure needed to maintain basal body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, muscle tone, etc., and our basal metabolism accounts for about 75% of the calories we expend daily.

There are ways to boost our BMR, thus burning more calories every day. Review these simple examples and try to include them into your healthy lifestyle.

* Weight train two or three days a week. Strong muscles will increase your metabolism.


* Do aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, etc.) for 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

* Incorporate “intervals” (one to two minutes of more intense exercise) into your aerobic training sessions.

* Don’t eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day. If you do, your metabolism will slow, and you’ll burn fewer calories.

* Be generally active. For example, park as far from the store as you can. Use the stairs rather than the elevator.

Note: Check with your doctor before making any changes in your exercise program.


Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. To submit a fitness-related question, e-mail She cannot respond to every query.