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Sunday
May162010

Metabolism & Weight Loss

“I eat a good diet. I just have a slow metabolism.” Metabolism is frequently blamed for one’s inability to achieve weight management goals. There is much more to an individual’s metabolism than simply the number of calories they burn. The definition of metabolism is the sum total of the chemical processes that occur in living organisms, resulting in growth, production of energy, elimination of waste material, etc.1 Thousands of reactions take place to build, repair, produce energy, eliminate wastes and detoxify the body. Many of those reactions can affect the ability to lose or gain weight. Understanding what helps and harms your metabolism is step one. Taking action is step two.

Most people think of their metabolism as how many calories they burn in a day. The number of calories burned can be an indication as to whether or not an individual’s metabolism is functioning optimally. Common ways metabolic rate can be increased include acute levels of stress, recovery from intense exercise and increasing the percentage of calories that come from protein. Chronic stress, extreme dieting and overtraining may slow your metabolism. Although these are easily modifiable factors, others may require more investigation such as issues with hormonal imbalances and environmental toxins.

CaloriePoint (Resting Metabolic Rate Assessment)

At a very basic level, metabolism can be measured to assess how many calories an individual burns each day. A CaloriePoint determines the number of calories an individual burns at rest. Using certain activity factors, an assumption of how many calories an individual burns can be assessed. This can be a powerful, eye-opening experience. Individuals who’ve struggled to lose weight in the past, or who have yo-yo dieted and/or exercised excessively, may be surprised at how slow their metabolic rate is. Others, who assume their metabolic rate is slow find out it’s higher than average and come to the realization they are eating too much, or the wrong types of food.

One benefit in measuring metabolic rate is being able to adjust dietary intake based on how many calories you burn during the day. Although there is more to weight management than calories in, calories out, modifying how much food you eat to compliment your metabolic rate is still important. An even greater value in measuring resting metabolic rate is the ability to measure it regularly over time. As you change your diet and exercise program, or even modify your lifestyle, it can change your metabolic rate. Without measuring it regularly, it is difficult to see what kind of impact those changes have.

If one’s metabolic rate is outside of a normal range, it may be worthwhile to have additional lab work completed. Also, for those who are within a “normal” range, if you feel like you’re doing everything right, but things aren’t changing according to plan, other assessments may be worth considering.

Other Factors Affecting Metabolism

If you have been following a diet consisting of plenty of vegetables, fruit and protein, controlling carbohydrates based on your activity and eating an appropriate amount of total calories, and you are not seeing the results you’d expect to, there may be another factor impacting your ability to lose weight. Seven factors that impact the ability to manage weight include inflammation, nutrient deficiency, insulin resistance, digestion, environmental toxins, stress and sleep, and hormonal imbalance. We’ll explore each of these in detail in future articles and on the new Weight Loss site on myLT.

There are a variety of lab tests that can be done to understand if the factors above may be contributing to weight gain. Food allergies and intolerances, chronic stress, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation are common issues people face today. Food allergy panels can help uncover digestive issues. Blood tests for inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein can help uncover issues related to chronic inflammation and blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c can indicate issues with blood sugar management.

Summary

Metabolism’s role in weight management can be far more complicated than many people assume. Reducing calories alone often does not produce the results they hope for. Making changes to incorporate higher-quality food, an appropriate exercise program and high-quality nutritional supplements is important. However, modifying other lifestyle and environmental factors may be necessary to achieve optimal health and fitness. Start with an understanding of your current metabolic rate and modify your nutrition and exercise to compliment the results. If you still don’t see the results you’re looking for, one of the seven other factors may play a role.

In health,

Tom Nikkola

Resources:

1. Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. HarperCollins Publishers

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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