Can a slowed metabolism cause weight gain?
Do you know people who complain about having a slow metabolism and how they barely eat anything yet still gain weight? Or have you met people who complain about someone they know who can eat whatever he or she wants (including large portions of junk food!) due to a fast metabolism and apparently never gain weight? In both cases the individual usually ends by saying, “It’s not fair!” These scenarios raise a question: is metabolism really the culprit? And if so, is it possible to fire up your metabolism to burn more calories? Metabolism or metabolic rate is defined as the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. 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 (BMR). Your BMR is partly determined by the genes you inherit. One way to think about metabolism is to view your body as a car engine that is always running. When you’re sitting still or sleeping, your engine is idling like a car at a stop light. A certain amount of energy is being burned just to keep the engine running. Of course, for humans, the fuel source is not gasoline. It’s the calories found in foods we eat and beverages we drink – energy that may be used right away or stored (especially in the form of fat) for use later. How fast your body’s “engine” runs on average determines how many calories you burn. If your metabolism is “high” (fast), you will burn more calories at rest and during activity. A high metabolism means you’ll need to take in more calories to maintain your weight. That’s one reason why some people can eat more than others without gaining weight. A person with a “low” (slow) metabolism will burn fewer calories at rest and during activity and therefore has to eat less to avoid becoming overweight. It’s part truth and part myth that metabolism is the key to weight. The rising tide of obesity in this world can’t be blamed entirely on an inherited tendency to have a slow metabolism. Something environmental (changes in diet and exercising too little) are much more likely culprits.