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Definition of Basal Metabolism

The metabolism understands everything that goes on inside your body to maintain and build tissue, produce energy and ensure that you stay healthy. Basal metabolism only refers to the basic or minimal amount of energy your body needs to survive when it is at rest. It does not include the extra energy needed to support even a small amount of activity once you are awake and moving.

Think of basal metabolism as the amount of calories your body burns for energy even when you are sleeping. This energy is used to support life-sustaining processes, from breathing and pumping blood to maintaining body temperature. Your body also needs constant energy to make sure it has the right amount of fluids and substances essential for metabolism. For example, your nerves and muscles cannot function without a specific concentration of potassium and sodium. Monitoring and regulating these two minerals accounts for about 20 to 40 percent of the energy used when you’re at rest, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Factors Affecting Basal Metabolism

  • Several factors influence your basal metabolism. Some people have a higher metabolic rate because of their genes.
  • Muscle burns three times more calories than fat, even when you’re sleeping, so the ratio of muscle to fat changes your metabolic rate.
  • Age makes a difference because the body loses muscle mass with aging, which slows down the metabolism.
  • When you don’t consume enough calories to meet your minimum energy needs, your metabolism slows down by as much as 30 percent. A fever increases the body’s metabolic rate by 7 percent for every 0.5 degree Celsius above normal body temperature.
  • When the thyroid gland does not produce the right amount of hormones, the metabolic rate can drop by 30 to 40 percent.

Change in Basal Metabolic Rate

  • Understanding basal metabolism provides a valuable tool: it shows that it can influence the metabolic rate through muscle mass and a balanced diet.
  • A restricted diet tells your body to conserve calories and lower your metabolism. For this reason, women should eat at least 1,200 calories, while men should consume a minimum of 1,800 calories per day.
  • Build or maintain muscle mass through resistance training, which works against external resistance activities such as weight lifting, stair climbing, sit-ups, push-ups and leg lifts.
    Check with your health care provider before beginning resistance training if you are currently inactive or have a health condition that limits your activity

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