Over the years, you’ve probably heard at least one person blame their weight on a “slow” metabolism. But have you ever stopped and wondered what that meant? Can a slow metabolism really cause you to gain weight? If so, can it be sped up to lose weight?
While there’s definitely a link between your metabolism and your weight, the truth is that a slow metabolism is very rarely the cause of excess weight. Ultimately, it’s what you eat and drink, and how much of it, along with how much exercise you get that determines your weight. Join us as we dig deeper into how your metabolism affects weight loss.
Your Metabolism and Your Weight
Your body is made up of an astounding number of systems that regulate it to meet your personal needs. While it may be tempting to blame excess weight on a slow metabolism, it’s extremely rare to gain weight due to a slow metabolism — and that’s usually associated with an underlying medical problem like Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism.
Metabolism is a set of constant chemical processes that go on in your body to keep you alive. This includes breathing, repairing cells, and digesting food. In simpler terms, your metabolism converts what you eat and drink into the energy your body needs to function. When you eat and drink more calories than your body needs, you gain weight. Similarly, when you use up more calories than you eat and drink, you lose weight.
Weight gain itself is simply an imbalance in this energy equation. What causes the imbalance, however, is a little more complicated. Genetic makeup, hormone levels, diet, stress, sleep, and physical activity all play a role in your weight. And while it’s true that some people seem to never gain weight no matter what they eat, the fact remains that to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. This can be done through diet, exercise, or a combination of both. Let’s take a closer look at how diet and physical exercise affect your metabolism.
The Effects of Diet and Exercise on Your Metabolism
While you can’t really control the speed of your metabolism, you can control how much energy you consume and how much you burn through physical activity. Put simply, the fewer calories you consume and the more active you are, the more energy you burn and the more weight you lose.
Cardiovascular exercise like walking, cycling, swimming, and running is by far the most efficient way to burn extra calories. Medical professionals recommend getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day to maintain a healthy weight, but you may need to increase the time you spend exercising if you want to lose more weight.
If you think you can’t set aside a whole half an hour a day to exercise, try breaking it into 10-minute segments throughout the day, you’d be surprised how easy that is! In general, any extra activity can help you lose weight. Simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or parking a little farther away than you normally would are great ways to add a bit of extra exercise to your day. Strength training, such as weightlifting, can also help you lose weight by building muscle. More muscle requires more energy, meaning your body will naturally burn more calories as long as you maintain muscle mass.
As far as diet goes, eating a more nutritionally balanced diet can help you consume fewer calories than you burn while still allowing you to feel satisfied after each meal. At Calgary Integrative Medicine, our weight loss clinic can help you create a diet plan perfectly tailored to your weight loss goals.
There’s No Magic Solution To Weight Loss
No matter how convenient it may seem, blaming excess weight on a slow metabolism won’t do you much good. Don’t be tempted by dietary supplements or products promising to speed up your metabolism either. These products are nothing more than hype, and some may even cause dangerous side effects. The truth is there’s no easy way to lose weight and weight loss needs to be based on a combination of physical exercise and diet. Reach out to Calgary Integrative Medicine today and schedule a consultation to find out how you can lose weight and keep it off long term.