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Metabolism and weight loss

Metabolism and weight lossI’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again that to lose weight you must eat less and exercise more but the truth is that it’s more complicated than that. Here I hope to help you to understand more about your metabolism and weight loss. What your metabolism means and how it affects weight loss and or gain.
A person’s metabolism and weight loss is contingent upon a few different factors and can vary from person to person.

What is metabolism

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy that your body needs to function.

So think for about all the things you do during the day and night that requires energy, i.e. everything. Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate — what you might call metabolism.

There are various factors that affect your metabolism and weight loss, and will contribute to your energy expenditure which will dictate how you burn calories. Those things are:

  1. Age – as we age muscle decreases and fat increases which will create less calories that get burned.
  2. Gender – Men tend to have more testosterone than women and so have more muscle on them thereby burning more calories.
  3. Food thermogenesis – digestion, absorption, storing and all that the body does with the food you consume requires energy to do so.
  4. Exercise/movement – physical activity definitely burns calories but the type, duration and intensity you partake in varies greatly person to person and can make up a lot of what you burn during the day or very little depending on your lifestyle.
  5. Water – drinking at least 1 and a half liters of water for women on an empty stomach and at least 2 liters for men helps joints, blood flow and energy overall.

Weight loss and metabolism

There is some evidence that yo-yo dieting can slow your metabolism, which could be why some of those I’ve worked with over the years have a harder time losing much weight. They spent years going from one fad diet to another with little short term success but never long term. Eating very few calories and when the diet ends, the body fights to put the weight back on due to the short term deprivation and or starvation.

There are also other factors that affect metabolism and weight loss such as;

  1. Stress – Stress can come from many places including job, kids, husband, environmental, chemical, exercise, and foods. If you’re extremely stressed out by one or more of these factors it will be harder to lose weight.
  2. Sleep – If you don’t sleep well at night this can lead to stress on the body in the way of recovery…physical repair happens from 10pm-2am and from 2am -6am is psychological repair so if you aren’t sleeping the body cannot go through its repairing process.
  3. Foods you eat – If you are not eating enough during the day and at the best times for your body you could have blood sugar problems which in turn can lead to hormonal problems which help maintain healthy metabolism. If you eat foods that upset your stomach this can also affect your metabolism in a negative way.
  4. Genetics – there is some evidence now that obese parents will have obese children, is this a DNA issue? I’m not sure. Genetics will however, dictate your body type and how you gain or lose weight… For example, ectomorph, endomorph or mesomorph.
  5. Water – again I cannot stress enough the importance of drinking sufficient water throughout your day after all, your body is 70% water so, drink up!

Body typesSo you can see how weight loss is a complicated issue and not as simple as eating less and exercising more. It is about burning more calories than you use, yes, however the process to do that is not simply about the food you eat. It’s a lot of factors as mentioned above.

Metabolism and exercise

You can’t control how your body burns energy however you can try to burn more calories by being more active throughout your day including, simply fidgeting. Having a sedentary lifestyle decreases energy expenditure and calories that are burned or used up. Having a movement mindset rather than a sedentary one helps to burn more energy during the day and maintain a healthy weight. Those that are said to have a “fast” metabolism most likely just move more during the day and on the flip side those that have a “slow” one don’t move much. Watch people sometime and you can see those that walk fast tend to have a healthier weight whereas those that walk really slow or move slow tend to have more weight on them or be overweight. Some of the ways to help your metabolism with exercise are as follows:

  1. Strength training – lifting weights helps to add more muscle to your body which in turn helps to burn more calories at rest.
  2. Daily walking – walking helps to get the blood flow moving through stiff muscles, helps to de-stress and mental cognition which all contribute to burning more calories and helps metabolism.
  3. Movement mindset – really you don’t need to take the elevator 1-4 flights up to your apartment, you can take the stairs to help burn more calories, build leg muscles and better metabolic function. Park further away from store doors to walk more, stand up every 10 minutes and stretch if you have a computer job. Think about how you can move more during the day = movement mindset.

So, as you can see here there are many factors that contribute to metabolism and weight loss. It’s not simply a matter of eating less and exercising more the way you may think it is. Stress, sleep, exercise, genetics, hormonal function, age, and gender all play a role in how you burn energy/calories. Change your lifestyle and habits and stop trying to find the next fad diet or extreme exercise program. Small steps daily will create those long term results you crave.



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