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Is your metabolism related to your weight loss?

By Fisayomi Aturamu

Sometimes, people say it's their metabolism that affects their problem with weight gain. People with 'good' metabolism are supposedly at an advantage because they tend to be slimmer. So is your metabolism related to your ability to lose weight? Let's find out:

Slim, pretty lady of African origin in shapely red coat
Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

What is metabolism?

Metabolism simply means the rate at which our body uses up energy to carry out its functions.

Think of your body as a car engine but instead of petrol it's fuel is the calories from what you consume.

Therefore, what you eat or drink provides the energy for use immediately or stored for later use in the form of fat. [1]


How is your metabolism connected to your weight?

To understand this connection, you have to first understand the basics of weight loss or gain - which is calorie intake.

Think of the word ‘calories’ as a fancy way of saying fuel you get from food or drinks.

Now picture your body as a car, if you put in fuel in your car but do not drive it around, the fuel stays in it.

However, if you drive it around town, the fuel is used up.

How long the fuel lasts and its use depends on the distance you travel, etc.

Essentially, if you take in more calories than you use, you would gain weight.


Fast vs Slow Metabolism - Is there such a thing?

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the energy that the body requires to function at rest.

Having a 'fast or slow metabolism' so to speak refers to how much energy the body requires to function at rest.

Various factors affect your BMR. A few are:

  • Sex – Women typically have more body fat than men
  • Age – People tend to lose muscle mass and gain fat as they get older
  • Physical activity – People with sedentary lifestyles do not have a high BMR compared to individuals that are physically active.


Myths vs Facts about metabolism

Myth #1:

I have always been overweight because I have a slow metabolism.

Fact: Of all the factors affecting metabolism, physical activity is the one that's easily controlled.

Engaging in more physical activities by exercising means you’d increase your BMR and burn more calories.

Combine this with a healthy diet; especially one lower in the number of calories expended daily, and you should lose weight.

However, certain conditions such as hormonal imbalances like polycystic ovarian disease, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease may make it difficult to lose weight.

Some medicines you take could increase weight gain, too.

Therefore, talk to your doctor before embarking on any weight loss program to ensure that it is right for you.

Myth #2:

All I need to do is get on that particular diet and I will definitely lose weight.

Fact: Each individual is different and what works for A might not work for B.

For example, women generally have more body fat than men.

Pregnancy and menopause also do a number on women’s bodies and cause some hormonal changes that may affect weight loss.

It is easier for younger people to lose weight and keep it off because as you get older you naturally lose muscle and gain fat.

Myth #3:

I have gained a lot of weight and that is because I sleep too much!

Fact: Sleep is actually good for you and to achieve your weight loss goal you need adequate sleep.

When you do not get enough sleep, your body produces excess cortisol, the stress hormone which could eventually lead to weight gain.

Myth #4:

I’ll lose weight once I start going to the gym!

Fact: Some people start working out but then overcompensate by eating a lot.

This would not guarantee weight loss. You have to be in a state of a calorie deficit to lose weight.

This can only be achieved by using up more calories through physical activities than you consume or eating less.

In fact, it is possible to 'gain weight' while going to the gym.

This is not necessarily a bad thing because if you are burning off fat while getting toned.

Your muscles may become enlarged from training them depending on the kind of workouts you do.


Balance is Key!

There are many fad diets out there that claim to boost your metabolism and help you lose weight.

Asides the fact that they can cause you unnecessary stress by wasting your time and money, some can cause serious health risks.

Therefore, always seek the opinion of your doctor and a qualified dietician before going on any diet.

And.....here are some basic tips you can incorporate into your lifestyle to help you stay healthy.

  1. Eat smaller meal portions at a time.
  2. Space out meals. At least four hours in between meals.
  3. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  4. Drink more water and cut out fizzy drinks.
  5. Cook healthy meals. Avoid processed foods, deep-fried foods, etc
  6. Eat only when hungry.
  7. Engage in physical activity that you love on a regular basis.
  8. Consider Fasting intermittently


And lastly...

Find a balance by combining healthy meals with regular exercise.

Establish what works for you diet-wise but emphasise eating healthier versions of meals that you love in smaller portions.

Develop (or discover) an exercise routine that gets you moving without being miserable.

This is not only guaranteed to help you lose weight but to also keep the weight off.

Your success is determined more by conscious planning allowing for slip-ups than by wishful thinking.

For overweight older children read this for some more tips.

Care to comment below and share your experiences?

Want to read more about this?

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through info@askawayhealth.org


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