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Is a Slow Metabolism the Reason You Can’t Lose Weight?

Is it a Slow Metabolism?

I hate to say it but there is a lot of bad information being spread around social media, the internet, and yes, our beloved mom groups. You’ve probably heard someone blame their weight problems on having a slow metabolism, but the thing is that metabolism is rarely the culprit. 

I can’t help but cringe when I begin to read some of the poor advice women (and men) are soliciting to others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of spreading good information but it seems a lot has been misinterpreted, leaving many of you confused. 

Have you ever heard or read that one or more of the below will boost your slow metabolism or suddenly cause weight to fall right off of you?!?

  • Eat 6 meals a day.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. 
  • No carbs after 7 p.m.
  • Eliminate food ‘X’  from your diet (i.e. dairy, gluten, etc.)
  • Take this “magic pill”
  • Drink this tea or shake. 
  • Fasted cardio. 
  • HIIT training.
  • Intermittent Fasting. 
  • Juice Cleanse. 
  • Detox. 
  • Sauna. 
  • Waist Trainers.
  • Keto.

You get the point…. This could go on forever but it won’t because I’m about to clear this up for you once and for all. 

It is important to note that this list nor extreme calorie deficits (low-calorie diets) will “boost” your metabolism. In fact, creating large calorie deficits can be dangerous and can set you up for failure in the long run. Dieting in extremes is not only unrealistic but potentially harmful. 

Our bodies are uniquely programmed to “fight back” in times of famine. When the body is under “attack” and forced to function on extremely low calories for an extended period of time, the body adapts by reducing energy expenditure (i.e. blinking slower, moving slower, etc.). The body will slow down some of its most complex and unique functions such as increased mitochondrial efficiency (fewer calories burned to produce the same amount of adenosine triphosphate commonly called ATP), decreases energy expenditure which lowers BMR, and elevation of hormones that control hunger which could cause undesirable weight rebound. 

In summary, this means the body will adapt to extremely low-calorie diets and your former deficit will become your body’s homeostasis (maintenance calories). This causes calories to be reduced further in order to see weight loss results.

Let me explain by starting with a couple of basics…

What is metabolism?

The process in which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. This includes involuntary actions (even those done at rest) such as breathing, blinking, circulating blood, and repairing cells/tissues. The energy your body uses for these functions is called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). 

Your metabolism is based on a few factors (generally speaking):

  1. Body Size and Composition: Individuals that weigh more or have a greater amount of muscle mass will, in turn, burn more calories (even at rest). This means they will likely have a greater BMR than a smaller person. 
  2. Gender: Males typically have a lower body fat percentage and greater muscle mass over women which means they burn more calories. 
  3. Age: Muscle mass begins to decline as you grow older which slows down the rate at which you burn calories. Don’t freak or get discouraged here, guys! You can fix this by hitting the weight room and increasing your muscle mass! 

Many people believe a slow metabolism is to blame for their struggles with weight loss but more often than not the issue is one or more of the below:

  • Eating too many calories
  • Not consuming enough protein 
  • Low activity level 
  • Unhealthy habits
  • Hormone imbalance (which can affect energy expenditure)
  • Lack of sleep 
  • Genetics/Family History 
  • In more rare cases, certain medications (consult with your doctor if you have concerns about weight loss or gain from medication(s) you are taking)

Oftentimes, my clients realize they are significantly underestimating their caloric intake and their physical expenditure. If you are struggling to lose weight and have tried everything in the book then it’s time to sit down and analyze your habits in detail. DO NOT look to extreme and dangerous methods to reach your goals, but rather tighten up your diet and begin logging your consumption (accurately). 

I have found tremendous success among my clients using macro tracker apps like MyFitnessPal or MyMacros. Log everything you put into your mouth and you will become more aware of how much you are eating, and with that, you will see progress physically and on the scale in a matter of weeks! Be patient! Be consistent! And be thorough! Change does not come overnight!

You know how the saying goes… “Nothing in life is free?” Well, the same thing goes for calories. They count whether you want to count them or not. 😉

Every little snack, splurge, jolly rancher, mint, piece of gum, and a lick of the spoon add up. It all comes down to CALORIES IN VS. CALORIES OUT meaning how much you consume versus how much you burn. I don’t tell you this to scare you but to encourage you to look a little deeper into your habits before blaming your metabolism for your weight loss struggles.

My 3 recommendations for burning more calories:

  1. Cardiovascular exercise
    • 30 minutes a day of some form of cardio (swimming, biking, running, walking, stationary cardio machine, etc)
  2. Strength training
    • Hit the weight room at least twice per week. Strength training is so important to weight loss as muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue! Check out this full-body high-intensity workout I have put together for you to try HERE.
  1. Lifestyle activities 
    • Any extra bit counts! Take the stairs, park further away, go for an evening walk, etc! Get out & get moving!

Feeling overwhelmed or confused? I get it. This is a lot of information to take in! But that’s what I’m here to help with. I’ve created a series of free guides that will help you look and feel your best. Click here to find out which guide would be perfect for you

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