Factors affecting metabolic rate
Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the minimum calorie requirement that you require to remain alive. You could also call it as the minimum energy you need to remain in bed all day since metabolism is at work, incessantly, while you are sleeping too.
This is because when we are asleep, a series of complex biochemical reactions are taking place to keep the body alive, like breathing and blood circulation to organs. Thus, calories are burnt round the clock by several body processes and BMR could be responsible for burning up to 70% of the total calories.
It is the single factor that determines how many calories you need to maintain, gain or lose weight.
BMR can vary depending on several factors including:
Genetics: the rate of metabolism can be faster or slower according to genetic factors.
Gender: men tend to have more muscles and less body fat. This makes the BMR higher in men than women.
Age: BMR will drop with age. It reduced by 2% every decade after you have reached 20 years of age.
Body weight: BMR depends on body weight. If you are heavy, you have a higher BMR. For instance, the BMR of obese women is 25% higher than women who are lean and slim.
Similarly, metabolic rate can vary according to many other factors like body surface area, body fat percentage, etc. In fact, the lower fat percentage you have in your body, the higher your metabolic rate.
That is the reason, why men generally have a 10 to 15% faster metabolic rate than women. Diet, body temperature or health conditions, environmental temperature, glandular functions, etc are other factors that can affect the metabolic rate of a person.
Though it is commonly believed that men have higher metabolic rate than women, and at any given body weight, men will typically have less fat and more lean body mass, there could be other hormonal causes which result in this difference.
Differences and sensitivity to hormones like leptin, thyroid, insulin and the catecholamines are thought to be responsible for the difference in the BMR between men and women.
With all the factors taken into account, women typically run about 3% lower BMR than men. Even hormones like estrogen and progesterone can affect the BMR.
Thus while BMR can vary and depend on a wide range of factors, men would typically have higher metabolic rate than women due to less fat and more muscles and lean body mass in their bodies.
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