Hi friends! We made it to Friday! Hip, hip, hooray! It seems as though I haven’t been discussing very much research based nutrition info over here lately but instead sharing a little more into my life, so today we’re going to mix things up a little bit and get back to the meat and potatoes (or lentils and sweet potatoes if you will) of this blog.
Quite a few times daily (literally, quite a few times daily), I talk with people who report they are overweight due to a slow metabolism. (And just to mention, most (if not all) have not been diagnosed with any disease that would affect their metabolism (for example, hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome).) This may sound familiar to you whether you have heard a friend say it or have said it yourself but is this statement really accurate? Let’s discuss…
Metabolism is a word used frequently, yet less often understood. As defined by the Mayo Clinic, metabolism is the body’s act of converting food/beverages to energy (aka calories). About 60-70 % of the calories we consume are used to keep our bodies alive and functioning (to keep our organs working properly, our heart pumping, our body temp regulated, etc.).
In most cases, people with a higher body weight actually have a faster metabolism and thus burn more calories than their lighter/smaller peers. This alone debunks the certainty that a slow metabolism is to blame.
Have you ever wondered why your weight seems to plateau after dieting/restricting calories and successfully losing weight? Your metabolism is the reason. The smaller your body is, the fewer calories you will need to maintain and/or continue with the weight loss process. Throughout the weight loss process, it is critical to readjust your caloric input/output in order to continue losing weight.
There are several things to consider before we blame our excess weight on a “slowed metabolism,” such as our food choices and activity level. Lucky for males, they tend to carry more muscle and less fat than females, therefore they tend to have a faster metabolic rate. That is the same for older versus younger individuals. As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and, therefore, our metabolism tends to slow over time as well.
So what can we do to improve our health and drop the pounds instead of constantly blaming our poor metabolism? Lots of things; here are a few!
- Get moving! Simply put, the more we move, the more we burn! All activity, even fidgeting, really adds up!
- Pump some iron! The more muscle you carry, the more calories you will burn at rest (yep, even when you’re sleeping!). While the increase might be small, any increase in metabolism is a good thing! According to 2001 study in Obesity Research Journal, fat burns about two calories per pound daily while muscle burns about 6 calories per pound daily.
- Get some sleep! The hormones that are responsible for your appetite (ghrelin and leptin) are all over the place when you don’t get enough sleep (yet another reason that I need to work on my sleeping goal!).
- Work out in the am! Following a tough workout, your metabolism soars. Let it soar during the time that you should be eating the most food (throughout the day).
- Break the fast… aka eat breakfast! Breakfast is a sure-fire way to jump-start your metabolism first thing in the morning. Who wouldn’t want to start the calorie burning right away!?
- Eat at least three meals daily (you read that right, at least three!)! You certainly don’t have to eat 5-6 smaller meals to have an efficient metabolism. Eating at least three meals consistently provides consistent energy to your blood stream, therefore, preventing a large drop in your blood sugar which might lead to overeating later. If you are the type that needs 5-6 smaller meals/snacks daily, go for it. All I am suggesting is avoiding eating less than three meals daily. Our bodies are actually a lot smarter than we think. In times of lack (strict dieting, starvation, etc.), our body knows to slow things down and preserve the energy (calories) that we do provide.
So what’s the big takeaway?
Be kind to yourself and and your incredible metabolism (which keeps your body alive and functioning every single day) by moving your body more and choosing healthy foods in moderation! Easier said than done? Not really!
Have a lovely weekend and a happy Easter my friends!