Metabolism is the engine that keeps your body running. It is the amount of energy your body spends each day to maintain itself. Everyone's metabolism is regulated the same way -- through the composition of your body. If you are muscular, your body will expend more calories each day, and your metabolism will work at a higher rate. The more body fat you have, the slower your metabolism will run. If you are getting into shape, you can monitor your metabolism by keeping track of your basal metabolic rate.
You should calculate your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, before embarking on any new diet or exercise program so you can keep track of your results. The gold standard in BMR arithmetic is the Harris-Benedict formula, which takes into consideration both your daily energy expenditure and your activity level. The first step is to figure out how many calories your body needs each day to work as it is now. For women, follow this formula to calculate your BMR: 655 + ( 4.35 x current weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years ). Men will need to follow the following formula: 66 + ( 6.23 x current weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year ). There are also many BMR calculators available on health and fitness websites.
Daily Calorie Needs
To figure out how many calories your body needs to function each day, take the result from the above formula and multiply your BMR by the activity factor that best resembles your daily routine. If you get little to no exercise each day, multiply BMR x 1.2; if you perform light exercise one to three times per week (walking, yoga), multiply BMR x 1.375; if you play sports or exercise vigorously three to five times per week, multiply BMR x 1.55 and if you are extremely active, exercising intensely six to seven days each week, multiply BMR x 1.9. The number you get is the calories you must take in each day to remain at your current weight and keep your metabolism working at the same rate.
Many electronic devices can automatically track and monitor your metabolism. These devices run on batteries and clip onto your clothing or belt buckle. Some newer versions look like a bracelet, which you can wear around your wrist. A metabolism monitor tracks your daily activities (calories burned) and tracks metabolic progress through benchmarks. Many also vibrate slightly if you have been inactive for too long, giving the user a reminder to get up and move.
Changing Your Metabolism
You can change your metabolic rate by increasing or decreasing calories depending on your situation. Overweight people will want to decrease their calories by at least 750 to start losing body fat. Other tips to boost your metabolism include eating a low-fat, well-balanced diet rich with fruits, vegetables and whole grains; including at least four daily servings of calcium (milk, yogurt, spinach and low-fat cottage cheese); increasing your daily intake of omega-3 acids through consumption of fish, and exercising vigorously at least four times each week.