It's My Metabolism!
Some people have difficulty losing weight due to a slow metabolism. Metabolism is often misunderstood, though. Often it is blamed when other factors are the more likely to be the cause.
First, what is metabolism? It is usually defined as the conversion of calories into usable energy. How fast this process occurs is typically referred to as a person’s metabolism. Some people have a faster metabolism than others, so it makes sense that those who don’t expend a lot of calories as energy would be more likely to store food as fat. This is sometimes called the "survival gene" that allowed us to live off of stored energy during tough times.
It has become popular to say that we tend to gain weight as we age not because our metabolism slows down, but because we get less exercise and thus burn fewer calories. While it is true that most of us get less exercise as we get older, our metabolism does indeed slow. We lose muscle as we age. Since muscle burns more calories than fat does, fewer calories are burned at older ages, even with the same activity levels. This is the reason men tend to gain fat less easily than women; they have more muscle and less fat to begin with. There is also an age-related slowing of metabolism on the cellular level of as much as 2% per year. The effects of this slowing are often worsened by the less efficient calorie-burning of the overweight person.
It could also be that a heavy peron has an underactive thyroid that slows his metabolism. However, this is unlikely. A doctor should be able to tell you whether this is trued through some simple tests, but it is unnecessary to do this before you try changing your diet and exercise.
Some Ways to Speed Your Metabolism
Cardiovascular Exercise. Doing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days per week should burn enough calories for most people to lose weight with a good diet. As with other activities, the more active you are the faster rate you'll expend calories and the greater the effect on your metabolic rate.
Weight Lifting. Unlike with cardiovascular exercise, weight training keeps your metabolism elevated for many hours after you finish working out. Not only that, but with bigger muscles, you will burn more calories all day. That is an actual increase of your metabolism.
The Right Foods. Complex carbohydrates from whole grains and fresh vegetables and lean protein allow you to burn calories more efficiently than refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, and saturated and hydrogenated fat. Sugar is far more likely to be stored as fat than complex carbohydrates. Spicy food appears to boost metabolism. Caffeine does too.
Frequent Small Meals. Breakfast is a must. Studies show that eating smaller meals every 3 to 4 hours aids metabolism and fat loss. Any more than 4 hours between meals can actually cause you metabolism to slow because your body perceives scarcity and begins to conserve. Going without also frequently leads to overeating.
Drink water. Staying hydrated is essential to flushing the body of the toxins that are released when fat is burned. Inadequate water consumption can also lead to additional stress on the body, which further contributes to slowing the metabolism.
Reduce Stress. Stress can contribute to weight gain through stimulation of the release of cortisol, a hormone that slows metabolism. In addition, when we’re under stress, we tend to overeat! Not only that, but, under these circumstances, we tend to eat the wrong food!
Sleep More. Research shows that people who sleep for less than 7 hours per night are more likely to gain weight than people who sleep more. Research has also demonstrated that muscle is regenerated in the final two hours of sleep. Waking up two hours early could prevent that, as well as related metabolic improvements.
By Robert Braun