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The Mystery of Metabolism - Discover Its True Meaning With Insights From Our Experts

Exercise Physiologist, Shirit Rosenberg explains how metabolism works and how regulating it can help you keep the weight off

how does metabolism works

By Shirit Kamil-Rosenberg, EdD, ACSM CEP

There is no secret recipe to losing weight and staying healthy. Although there are pills and fad diets that come and go, the best way to stay healthy and keep the weight off (if that is what you want) is to be consistent with your healthier life habits, such as exercise and eating well. One of the ways that consistency is beneficial is that it helps regulate your metabolism.

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is how your body uses the calories (energy) that it needs to sustain in 24 hours, also known as Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TEE).

Metabolism is Broken Down Into Several Components:

Basal Metabolism or basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy (calories) that your body is at rest/lying down.

Resting Metabolism or resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy or calories that you need while your body is awake but at a resting state (such as sitting and very basic activities). It is the amount of calories you need just to sustain your current energy during rest. BMR and RMR are sometimes used interchangeably but they are a little different. However, they constitute about 60-75% of your energy expenditure.

The Thermal Effect of Feeding is the amount of energy it takes for your body to digest, absorb, and metabolize the food you eat. Our in-house Dietitian-Nutritionist can discuss this more in detail at another time if that interests you.

The Thermic Effect of Activity is split into daily activity and structured physical activity:
  • The daily activity component was studied by Dr. James Levine and is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) where all the calories burned through daily activity, not including your exercise routine, eating, or sleeping. These activities include daily chores, walking to the grocery store, working, etc. The impact of NEAT is based on environment (such as your occupation and where you live (rural vs city) AND biological factors (such as your body composition (fat, muscle, weight, and gender). By increasing these everyday activities, you are helping to improve your metabolism.

  • The structured physical activity is the exercise activity thermogenesis where the calories burned are from the structured activities (all the classes from Ola Ka Ola). Muscle mass (or how much muscle you have), specifically through increasing your activity can significantly change your metabolism for the better.

Metabolism is complex with many components. It is important to know that there is a lot to consider. When you are not eating enough or getting the right nutrients, this will impact your metabolism, for the worse (thank you to our Dietitian-Nutritionist, Maryann Gallucci for such amazing tips). Building muscle helps you stay strong and if at all, maintain and possibly improve your metabolism.

By staying physically active, getting adequate sleep, and getting the nutrients that you need, there is a possibility to improve. Please be advised that metabolism is affected by many other components including stress, medications, and other possible health issues, if applicable. So continue to join the 30-minute exercise sessions here at Ola Ka Ola. It is beneficial in so many ways!


About Shirit Kamil-Rosenberg, EdD, ACSM CEP

A certified clinical exercise physiologist who has a doctorate in exercise physiology. Her
expertise is working with people with chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc.) and the benefits of physical activity. Shirit has worked in clinical and research settings working primarily with older adults instructing cardiac rehabilitation in the past as well as conducting cardiopulmonary and clinical stress tests. Her passion is to let people know and show the importance of physical activity to everyone. Shirit is married and has 4 children. She enjoys spending time with her family and staying active when possible. Ola Ka Ola fits her busy schedule by allowing her to take early classes and join on demand when possible.


Blundell, JE., King, NE. Physical activity and regulation of food intake: current evidence. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 31(11):p S573, 1999.
Levine, J.A. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): environment and biology. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 286: E675–E685, 2004;10.1152/ajpendo.00562.2003.0193-1849/04
Poehlman ET. A review: exercise and its influence on resting energy metabolism in man. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 21(5):515-25, 1989.


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