When the body converts what you eat and drink into energy, this is a biochemical process known as metabolism in which calories get combined with oxygen and releases the energy your body needs in order to function.

The speed of your metabolism is determined by your metabolic rate – also known as basal metabolic rate or BMR – and it can be fast or slow. Your basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories the body burns while it’s resting. If you have a low basal metabolic rate, you will burn fewer calories. If you have a high basal metabolic rate, you’ll burn more calories. That being said, there are many factors to consider when it comes to figuring out your metabolic rate, such as age, gender, genetics, as well as body composition.

If you have slow metabolism, you may have trouble losing weight. If your metabolism is too fast, then you may have a hard time gaining weight. Whether you have slow or fast metabolism, there are certain things you can do to improve your metabolic rate, such as making certain lifestyle changes; including changing your exercise habits and paying close attention to the foods you eat. If you’ve stuck to the same eating habits for several years, this could be a sign that your metabolism is slowing down, which is particularly common as we get older. As we age, our calorie-burning muscle turns into fat, which leads to slower metabolism. On the other hand, if your metabolism is fast, you’re burning more calories; especially if you workout, as you’re also building muscle. Genetics can also play a role in fast metabolism. People with fast metabolism also tend to be able to eat higher calorie and high-carb foods without gaining much weight. However, don’t let the fact that you have fast metabolism make you think that it’s okay to indulge in junk food every day and deter you from making healthy meal choices. A healthy diet should be part of everyone’s daily regimen regardless of their circumstances.

If you’re having trouble gaining weight or find you’re dropping too much weight/your metabolism is too fast, you will need to increase your calorie intake. Higher calorie foods consist of whole grains bagels or breads, cheese, milk, eggs, fatty fish (such as salmon), avocados, beans, peas, potatoes, nuts, seeds, and fruit juice. For those with a slower metabolism and looking to increase it, try different muscle strengthening exercises, such as weight lifting, or different body-resistance exercises like push-ups and squats. If you go for 30 minute walks, increase those walks to 60 minutes. Also make sure your calorie intake isn’t dropping too low. Calories should be at 1,200 for women, and 1,800 for men. Anything below that could cause your metabolism to pause. You can also increase your metabolism by incorporating more protein into your diet, drinking more water, and partaking in high-intensity fitness classes. Lack of sleep has also been linked to slow metabolism, so make sure you’re getting a good night’s rest each evening.

Remember, having a higher metabolism is important because it can not only help you lose weight, but improve your overall health, as well as give you more energy. Still, there are dangers to having metabolism that is too high or too low, so always speak with your physician about any concerns you have.