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Why We’re So Mixed Up About Metabolism

Posted by Nima Rafizadeh on
In the constant quest to lose weight, the word ‘metabolism’ or ‘metabolic rate’ comes up a lot. And when it does, it’s frequently as part of an excuse as to why someone can’t lose weight. Something like: “I can’t lose weight because my metabolism is too slow.” But that simple statement, heard so many times and seemingly making so much sense, is wrong in at least two major ways. But before we get into that, let’s start with the basics of what is ‘metabolism’. Every bit of food you eat has energy stored in it. The reason we must eat food constantly is because we need the energy that the food has to offer. Our brain signals that we are hungry because it detects that our energy is running low. But, after we eat food, something has to happen to it for our bodies to be able to get the energy from it. That process of converting food energy into energy our bodies can use is called metabolism. The idea of a fast or slow metabolism in based on each person’s basic, or basal, metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you need to sustain basic bodily functions when you are at rest. This includes things like your heart beat, breathing and hair growth. Those who need less food energy, or fewer calories of energy, to run basic bodily functions are considered to have a slower metabolic rate. Those who need more calories to run basic bodily functions are said to have a high metabolic rate. Now you know the two major ways in which the statement “I can’t lose weight because my metabolism is too slow” is incorrect.

Metabolism Myths:

  1. ‘Slow’ is the wrong way to describe a metabolic rate that needs fewer calories to give the body the energy it needs. In fact, we should be thinking of metabolic rates in terms of “efficient” and “inefficient”. A rate that burns fewer calories to get the same job done is more efficient. So slower metabolic rates are efficient and higher metabolic rate are inefficient.
  1. Whether your metabolic rate is fast, slow, efficient or inefficient has no bearing on whether it’s more or less difficult for you to maintain a healthy body weight. In the end, that will always come down to how many calories of energy you eat versus how much you burn.
Regardless of your metabolic rate, you can always take steps to reduce how much food energy you eat, use up more of it after you eat, and help to reduce your extra weight and some of its symptoms, including managing your cellulite. Use every chance you get to be more active and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

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