Have you ever wondered how you can make your body burn calories faster? Can that really be done? Yes! With a long term commitment, you can actually speed up the rate at which your body burns calories (known as metabolism). In fact, there are many factors that affect your metabolic rate.

The 3 Basic Aspects of Metabolism (or total energy expenditure):

(1) Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) -
RMR is the amount of energy (calories) needed to run the vital functions of your body (i.e. breathing, heart beating). RMR is believed to account for about 65 to 75% of the calories your body burns in a day. Consider this -- As the percent of body fat increases, the RMR decreases, or you burn fewer calories at rest. Additionally, muscle deterioration will also decrease the RMR. Muscles deteriorate when you don't challenge them! To ultimately combat a decrease in RMR, build more muscle and shrink those fat stores.

(2) Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) -
TEF involves the work associated with digesting the food you eat. Yes, your body is actually burning calories as you eat them. Don't get too excited -- The amount of energy used here ranges from just 5 to 15%. Wondering how to burn more calories just by eating? The composition of your diet has an effect on this part of metabolism. When the ratio of carbohydrate to fat is high, metabolism is higher. The body has work harder to convert carbohydrates to fat than it does dietary fat which is already in a storable form. Thus, eating a diet low in fat is not only heart healthy, but will help you burn a few extra calories.

(3) Effect of Physical Activity -
This is the energy your body burns while performing daily activities, exercise, play, etc. On average, physical activity accounts for 20 to 40% of the calories burned by your body in one day. It is the component of metabolism that you have the most control over. It should be obvious that a person who is sedentary (inactive) versus a very active person will burn far fewer calories. Factors that affect calories burned, or metabolism, include the intensity of the activity, how long the activity is performed, and the frequency (or how often the activity is performed). This is probably a no-brainer, but the more intense the activity, the more calories are burned; the longer you do the activity, the more calories you are burning; and the more often you do the activity, the more calories are used up.

Unfortunately for us women, we tend to have less muscle mass than men. This is the way we are made, (no, guys, this is not an excuse, just the facts). Thus, women typically have a lower RMR than men. People under the age of 30 usually have a faster metabolic rate for the same reason - higher muscle mass. However, this does not have to hold true. Maintain your muscle mass by lifting weights three days a week. Studies have shown that in as little as three months of moderate weight training, RMR increases. Remember, that's your RESTING calorie burn!

The Effects of Food on Metabolism:

* Anything that speeds up the heart rate, such as stimulants, will temporarily increase your RMR. Examples of food stimulants include caffeine and spicy chili peppers (the key being spicy).

* Complex carbohydrates (i.e. bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables) contain about half the calories by weight of fat. Plus, it is more work for the body to convert carbohydrates to body fat.

* Alcohol is a concentrated calorie source and contains few nutrients. It actually reduces the body's ability to burn fat.

* The soluble fiber in oat products not only lowers cholesterol but enhances weight loss.

BONUS: Walking within 10 minutes of eating can actually boost your TEF helping your body burn 10% more calories than normal. Eating every 3 to 4 hours (6 to 7 small meals per day) will increase your TEF, thus your metabolism.

Power List of Ways to Increase Metabolism:

* Never ever skip meals, especially breakfast.
* After lunch and dinner, take a brief walk (10 to 15 minutes).
* Do NOT eat LESS than 1200 calories per day.
* Eat 50 to 60% of your calories from carbohydrates.
* Train with weights at least 3 days a week.
* Perform some form of aerobic exercise most days of the week.
* Drink plenty of water.
* Get Plenty of Sleep.

Author's Bio: 

Written by: Laura S. Garrett, RD -- Registered Dietitian & ACE Certified Personal Trainer --Keep Laura's advice at your fingertips, wherever you and your cell phone go with"Text ur R.D." -- Learn more at: NutrActive.com