Why the Slow Metabolism Excuse is Invalid
People love to reach for excuses when it comes to an inability to lose weight, and one of the most popular ones seems to be “my metabolism is just slow.”
I always hate these kinds of statements because the inference is that your metabolism is somehow permanently fixed and as a result, you’re doomed to spend your life in an overweight body.
There actually is really no such thing as a “slow” metabolism, and it’s usually not what’s behind being overweight or obese – that’s ultimately usually a result of interactions among genetics, diet, physical activity and other factors.
Metabolism, by definition, is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Even when you’re at rest, your body requires energy for essential body functions such as breathing, circulating blood and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses for these basic functions is what’s known as your basal metabolic rate. The difference between what is termed a slow and fast metabolism is how many calories you burn to support these basic bodily functions (aka your BMR).
There are several factors that play into your base metabolic rate:
1) Your body size and to a greater extent, your body composition. If you carry more muscle mass, you will burn more calories, even at rest, because muscle tissue is calorically active. Therefore, more muscular individuals tend to have faster metabolic rates because more of their total body weight is muscle. Individuals who are overweight and carry excess adipose tissue tend to burn fewer calories because unlike muscle, fat tissue is not metabolically active.
2) Your sex. This is simple, men almost always burn more calories than women.
3)Your age. As you get older, your muscle mass naturally decreases. This is largely why the rate at which your body burns calories slows with the passing years. And as it relates to women, shifts in hormones, particularly menopause will cause the body’s metabolism to be altered.
Obviously, you can’t control your sex or gender. But you CAN control your body composition and more importantly the lifestyle factors that contribute to it, such as dietary intake, physical activity, stress management, sleep quality and duration, hydration, and so on. I’ll touch on some of these factors below:
You Need Muscle
Lack of lean muscle. Although some people are resistant to hearing it, there’s a good bet that if your metabolism isn’t cranking as it should be, it’s partly to do with the fact that you likely don’t have enough muscle and/or are carrying too much bodyfat. Adequate lean muscle tissue accounts for 70% of your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and therefore accounts for the vast majority of the calories you burn every single day. It’s in your best interest to have a healthy amount of metabolically active muscle tissue because this helps ensure your body burns rather than stores the bulk of incoming calories. This is why strength training is an integral part of any weight loss program. It helps ensure you build the muscle tissue required for a healthy, efficient metabolism. Unfortunately, when most people approach weight loss they do so through two avenues: cutting calories and increasing cardio. They forget that MUSCLE sustenance is an integral component of long term metabolic efficiency.
Choosing the Wrong Foods
Over-eating has LESS of a negative metabolic impact than you might think. Yes, it can cause the metabolism to slow, but honestly, most people think they over-eat simply because they select poor quality foods. More often than not I’ve seen overweight or obese people be prone to under-eating total calories, but over consuming processed high fat, high sugar, low nutrient food, which has a negative impact on the body at a cellular level. So it’s a no brainer to say that if you’re overweight or carrying too much bodyfat, you may, therefore, be inefficient at utilizing incoming calories as fuel, but usually its food selection, lack of physical activity and lack of sufficient lean muscle tissue that causes the slow metabolism, not the daily caloric intake itself.
Cutting Too Many Calories
Restricting calories too severely. When you eat too few calories on a daily basis and continue this pattern for weeks and months, your body sits up and takes notice. As a result, it initiates a series of adaptations to your metabolism in order to “survive” the fact that it’s starving. One of these adaptations occurs within the thyroid, which is the master gland of the metabolism. When your caloric intake is low, it starts to slow down, and as a result, causes the metabolism to become sluggish as well. In fact, it’s been found that severe caloric restriction over the course of just a few days can decrease thyroid function or production by 38%. Your body needs enough energy-in the form of food and the calories it contains- to run those basic functions I mentioned earlier, and the problem with a lot of extremely low-calorie diets is that they restrict dietary intake below this basic level of caloric necessity. Continue this pattern long enough and you will wind up forcing your body to catabolize (consume) it’s own muscle tissue for fuel, and that, in turn, slows metabolism even more. In many ways, chronic under-eating is worse than over-eating in terms of what it does to healthy metabolic function.
Use Proper Supplementation
One good way to increase your metabolism it to take a high-quality fat burner. The fat burners of today have natural ingredients that will increase your bodies metabolism so you burn more calories day and night. They also have ingredients to make you feel more full so you eat less during the day. This is an excellent one two punch to help boost your metabolism and help you lose weight faster and easier than before. Add one of the best fat burners on the market to your training and you will not be disappointed in the results.
While genetics do affect metabolism, they are not the sole contributing factor. Nor is your metabolism fixed, or locked. It can change, positively or negatively based upon the decisions you make about how you live your life, how you eat, how you train and what supplements you use.
Don’t waste your time or energy thinking that you are somehow doomed to a slow metabolism from bad genetics. Instead, direct your focus to manage the contributing factors you can control- sleep, stress management, diet, and exercise.