Weight-loss basics (12)
- Weight loss: Ready to change your habits?
- Weight-loss goals: Set yourself up for success
- Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics
- see all in Weight-loss basics
Diet plans (5)
- Weight loss: Choosing a diet that's right for you
- Low-carb diet: Can it help you lose weight?
- Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes
- see all in Diet plans
Mayo Clinic diet (6)
- Weight loss: Gain control of emotional eating
- Snacks: How they fit into your weight-loss plan
- The Mayo Clinic Diet: A weight-loss program for life
- see all in Mayo Clinic diet
Diet and exercise (9)
- Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour
- Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier
- Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health
- see all in Diet and exercise
Diet pills, supplements and surgery (6)
- Prescription weight-loss drugs: Can they help you?
- Over-the-counter weight-loss pills: Do they work?
- Alli weight-loss pill: Does it work?
- see all in Diet pills, supplements and surgery
Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories
A closer look at physical activity and metabolism
While you don't have much control over the speed of your metabolism, you can control how many calories you burn through your level of physical activity. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. In fact, some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active — and maybe more fidgety — than are others.
You can burn more calories with:
- Regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories and includes activities such as walking, bicycling and swimming. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase the time you spend on physical activity even more. If you can't set aside time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day. Remember, the more active you are, the greater the benefits.
- Strength training. Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, are important because they help counteract muscle loss associated with aging. And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.
- Lifestyle activities. Any extra movement helps burn calories. Look for ways to walk and move around a few minutes more each day than the day before. Taking the stairs more often and parking farther away at the store are simple ways to burn more calories. Even activities such as gardening, washing your car and housework burn calories and contribute to weight loss.
No magic bullet
Don't look to dietary supplements for help in burning calories or weight loss. Products that claim to speed up your metabolism are often more hype than help, and some may cause undesirable or even dangerous side effects. Dietary supplement manufacturers aren't required by the Food and Drug Administration to prove that their products are safe or effective, so view these products with caution and skepticism, and always let your doctors know about any supplements you take.
There's no magical way to lose weight. It comes down to physical activity and diet. Take in fewer calories than you burn, and you lose weight. But if you're worried about your metabolism or you can't seem to lose excess weight despite diet and exercise, talk to your doctor.Previous page
(2 of 2)
- Bray GA, et al. Pathogenesis of obesity. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Bray GA, et al. Etiology and natural history of obesity. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons; 2006:24.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Institute of Medicine. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10490. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- McArdle WD, et al. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance. 5th ed. Baltimore, Md.: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2001:188.
- Hensrud DD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 9, 2011.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.