Monday, December 4, 2023

Experts reveal why we should look to our metabolism as an indicator of health

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Body mass index (BMI) has long been the go-to way of scrutinising whether we’re in shape or not.

But some believe it is firmly off the mark – and that there is a better means by which to measure fitness. 

British experts have revealed how Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) could actually be a strong indicator, with the hashtag #MetabolicHealth racking up 66 million views on TikTok.

While your BMI is a measure of healthy weight, Penny Weston, a fitness, wellness and nutrition expert, told FEMAIL your BMR is the number of calories your body needs to carry out its basic functions. 

Your BMR can be used to help you gain, lose, or maintain weight because you can work out how many calories you burn and therefore how many you should be consuming. 

British experts have revealed how Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) could actually be a strong indicator of overall health than BMI, with the hashtag #MetabolicHealth racking up 66 million views on TikTok  

Penny said: ‘BMI as a measurement is often criticised as it does not take into account muscle mass or bone density.’ 

While it isn’t possible to reset your metabolism but there are ways to increase your metabolic rate naturally, which include making changes to the way you eat, exercise and even sleep. 

According to Penny small things such as eating breakfast and doing exercise first thing on a morning can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day. 

Meanwhile Daria Tiesler, HPM Wellness founder and expert in Women’s’ Health and Performance, reiterated this by describing the conditions you are at risk of developing if you have a poor BMR. 

The Barcelona-based wellness entrepreneur detailed how conditions such as PCOS, cancer, type 2 diabetes, thyroid problems and sleep apnea are all conditions that are related to poor metabolic health.   

She explained: ‘Improving your metabolic rate can help improve your fitness in several ways.’ 

Here the experts revealed how to improve your BMR… 


The more you engage your muscles, the faster your metabolism becomes.

Penny explained that a 20 minute walk first thing in the morning will ‘make a huge difference.’ 


She also recommended lifting weights because building muscle can help increase your metabolism and therefore burn more calories every day, even when you are at rest. 

She said: ‘Lifting weights will also help retain muscle while reducing body fat.’

Other cardiovascular exercises such as running, swimming, aerobics and walking stimulate your metabolism and can even temporarily suppress your appetite post-workout.

Therefore she recommends trying exercises at home including burpees and mountain climbers, because these are high-intensity, full-body workouts that involve all of your major muscle groups. 


Penny recommended grazing on healthy snacks and eating five to six smaller meals throughout the day to keep a steady stream of energy in your body.

Healthy snacks include nuts, fruits, veggies and yogurt. 

However, she warned: ‘If you are snacking, just make sure your main meals are smaller as otherwise you will have too many calories.’

Penny said there are some foods that may help slightly increase your metabolic rate, such as protein-rich foods, like meat, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts, which require your body to use more energy to digest them.

She said: ‘Also try iron-rich foods like meat, seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds as minerals such as iron and selenium, which help your thyroid gland, which regulates your metabolism, to function.’


Penny also recommends making sure you get a good night’s sleep to help improve your metabolic rate.

She explained: ‘A lack of sleep can reduce the number of calories you burn and also affect your appetite-regulating hormones so when you are sleep-deprived, you often feel hungry and eat more.’

When people are sleep deprived they end up craving carbohydrates, which break down into sugars.

Not only is excessive carbohydrate detrimental to our waistlines but  a lack of sleep affects the body’s ability to regulate insulin, therefore putting you more at risk of type 2 Diabetes.  


Research has shown that an overactive nervous system and increased levels of cortisol can have a negative effect on our metabolic fitness.

The surge of cortisol released when you are under stress temporarily pauses regular bodily functions, slowing your metabolism. 

This surge will also increase your appetite but can cause cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods.  

A study published in the Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine found that relaxed breathing (breathing deeply and extending the exhale) had a positive short-term impact on glucose processing.

Tried and tested relaxation techniques from breathwork to yoga can indirectly give your metabolic health a positive boost.

Yoga instructor Ema Rice explained why she encourages everyone to think about their metabolism over BMI.

The Leeds-based yogi said: ‘Your metabolism is what converts what you consume into what your body needs, so when it is functioning well, your skin glows, your shines and your immune system is strong. 

‘When it doesn’t you can get a build up of toxins, which directly affects your health.’

Ema recommends yoga flow sequences, which contain more movement that normal practice to get your blood pumping. 

Sun Salutations or asanas that massage the organs in the abs, where digestion takes place, are all great for boosting metabolism. 

These positions include spinal twists and plough poses for example. 

She explained: ‘The movement from doing sun salutations gets the blood pumping, which means more blood travelling  to your organs to get them functioning better. 

‘The asanas with twists massage the organs in the endocrine system and digestive system, which helps to regulate them (the organs), improve circulation, and get rid of toxins. 

‘So it’s this improvement in the digestive and endocrine system that boosts the metabolism, meaning your body is breaking down what you consume and directing it to where your body needs it in the most effective time way.’

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