In this article I want to explore a curious topic that few people think about: Should we blame “slow” metabolism for our weight problems? Many of us find excuses with their slow metabolism. You’ve heard those words before, right? I will share some of the Myths and Tips about Slow Metabolism.
Many people believe that the slow metabolism is the invisible and invincible enemy of overweight individuals. And the secret weapon that benefits those who eat whatever they want and don’t gain is their fast metabolism!
Unfortunately, in most cases, metabolic processes are wrongly understood. The myths around metabolism are probably more than those of the Loch Ness monster. To be able to change the view of our metabolism, we need to learn more about it!
What is metabolism?
If I have to give definition without going into unnecessary details, metabolism represents the sum of all biochemical reactions that occur in our bodies.It is responsible for whether the adopted energy (calories) from food will be stored (anabolism) or released (catabolism). That is why some people blame their metabolism for their weight gain and inability to lose fat.
Myth # 1: Slow metabolism is the “cause” for overweight and you’re the “victim”!
It is important to understand that the main reason for obesity in the first place is excess calories – they are the ones that are stored in our body as fat! Weight gain is due to the fact that you consume more calories (energy) than your body needs (i.e. caloric surplus) rather than slow metabolism itself! We should not forget that when it comes to weight reduction it is always subject and depends on the law of calorie balance!
Myth # 2: Overweight people must have a slow metabolism!
It may be a surprise to some of you but research shows that overweight people actually have a faster metabolism compared to thin people. At first glance, this seems impossible and absurd but if you think for a second you will see that it is perfectly normal and logical.
More body mass is actually a precondition to burn more calories during the time of rest and during exercise. The more you weigh the greater are your energy needs to maintain basic bodily functions. In other words, people who are overweight have an increased base metabolism (the minimum requirement for energy needed by the body to survive). Also, they tend to burn more calories during the workout.
Myth # 3: Genes are the ones who determine the metabolic rate!
Busting this myth is more difficult because it contains some truth. Some people just are born with a fast metabolism and others with slow. Yes, that’s a fact!
On the other hand, claims that genes are the ones that determine the speed of our metabolism is a myth! Let me explain.
We all have different metabolism but its speed is determined mainly by body weight, muscle mass and physical activity, rather than genetics.
Genetic differences in basic metabolism of two individuals with the same body weight and body type are minimal. Most studies made in this direction have shown that they are only 3-8%.
Let’s say that Jane and Joanne are the same height and weight and always sports together (same physical activity). Even if they are “born with a different metabolism” – Jane’s metabolism is going to be faster than Joanne’s. Here’s how it might look like the difference calculated the minimum and maximum calories for the day.
Jane: Basic metabolism – 1475 calories; Total daily energy expenditure (including physical activity) – 2200 calories
Joanne: Basic metabolism – 1350 calories; Total daily energy expenditure (including physical activity) – 2000 calories
Joanne would be relatively correct saying that she has “inherited” a slower metabolism. But is this a real problem to overcome? Of course not!
Why then is so hard to get rid of the extra weight?
Again disturbed calorific balance! As we have seen, it is the root cause of the problem. Therefore, it is the way to solve it!
My personal experience shows that people often consume more calories than they think. When they record what they ate during the day, most miss a lot of foods and beverages. Also, most people are not aware of the energy value of foods, which prevents them from seeing a clear picture of what is the right amount of calories they take. With the athletes, there is the opposite phenomenon, they are usually aware of the calories that they consume but often decide to take a risk, “Well, a slice of pizza = 300 calories, so what, I still do sports! Tomorrow will burn them in the gym! “
It is these added 200-300 calories that forget or deliberately consume. In most cases we sabotage our efforts to lose weight – it’s not bad metabolism to blame. Of course, the law of calorie balance is not enough if you want to succeed. The factors that affect weight loss are many and include motivation, goal setting, the proper ratio of macronutrients, psychological attitude, etc. But it all starts with the simple calculation of calories in (the total calories consumed) and calories out (the total caloric expenditure).
Is there a way to speed up your metabolism?
The answer is definitely yes. Many things in life are not subject to control but our metabolism is not among them! As already mentioned the first thing you should focus your attention is nutrition.
- Proper nutrition!
Be careful not to fall into the trap of extreme diets that require very low caloric intake. The results come almost as fast as they go!
When preparing your meal plan the first thing you should do is to ensure that your daily caloric intake is tailored to your needs.
Secondly, make sure that each meal contains protein-rich foods! Proteins will protect you from losing muscle mass. Also, they have a high thermogenic effect, i.e your body will burn more calories to process them.
Thirdly, the remaining calories for the day have to be distributed between carbohydrates (not refined, but from natural sources) and good fats.
Certain foods and drinks (hot peppers, ginger, caffeine, green tea) have won the praise of thermogenic but unfortunately, their effect is not so significant. I would advise you not to waste your time in search of “miraculous foods.”
Either way, any positive changes meal plan would be very effective if you do not combine them with physical activity. You may lose weight but it doesn’t mean you will look good. Combining proper meal plan with physical activity and good recovery will deliver best results.
- Strength training for preserving/increasing muscle mass!
One of the most common causes leading to a slow metabolism is the presence of more fat compared to lean muscle mass.
If you’ve ever wondered why men have a faster metabolism than women, I should tell you our “secret” – we have more lean muscle mass.
Maybe you were asking another question: Why do most middle-aged people appear to have problems with weight gain without making any significant changes in their lifestyle? One of the reasons is because muscle mass naturally decreases with age.
Why strict diets that promise the rapid loss of excess weight and instantly metabolism improvement are turning into your enemy?
I will not surprise anyone when I tell you the answer – muscle mass! The first weight loss which we manage to get rid of following a strict diet primarily consist of liquids. The second – muscle mass and only then (possibly, if the damage to the muscle is not very big) – fats.
Decreased muscle mass >>> slower metabolism >>> inability to deal with overweight
Increased muscle mass >>> faster metabolism >>> more calories burned
Strength training is the one that will help you avoid the inevitable loss of muscle mass when you restrict your calorie intake!
If you pay enough attention you muscles will gradually prevail over fat in your body. Your metabolism will speed up and you will be able to burn more calories even when you relax and do nothing.
If you have the following attitude: “I will give everything in when working out and then will return to a sedentary lifestyle!” – Will surely play a bad joke!
- To activate your metabolism, activate yourself!
Say goodbye forever to a sedentary lifestyle, think about all the things in your life that keep you from being active and those which could help you to be more active. Each additional movement into your daily routine helps you burn calories.
Have you heard of Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise? In this way your metabolism constantly working in your favour: when you are at home and clean instead of watching TV; you walk instead of drive; stand instead of sit, etc. Generally speaking, whenever you choose activity over the sedentary life you do not leave the choice up to your metabolism. Instead, you control the environment.