Is a Damaged Metabolism Keeping You Overweight?
Do you have a damaged metabolism?
How many times have you heard something like this before:
“I just can't lose weight… I think I have a damaged metabolism!”
There seems to be a split between weight loss gurus as to if a damaged metabolism is as common as it is thought to be.
Some swear that a damaged metabolism is frequently the reason for their client’s weight loss struggles where others treat the “damaged metabolism” complaint as a convenient explanation for people’s lack of discipline.
In standard Fit & Free fashion, my stance on the topic of a “damaged metabolism” falls somewhere in the middle of this tug of war competition.
Is it possible for you to actually have a damaged metabolism?
Is a damaged metabolism as common as people tend to think it is?
Read this article and you’ll become the expert of your co-worker’s lunch break weight loss talk ;). Mr. Oz won’t won’t have nothin’ on yah!
What’s more, becoming better informed about the backend workings of a metabolism may lead you to identify your personal struggles with weight loss…
Apply what you learn today and you may find just what you needed to break the shackles keeping you from weight loss freedom!
The metabolism is defined as the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. (I would give credit but I got that straight from a physical dictionary...so you know it’s legit!)
The faster one’s metabolism is, the more energy the body burns in performing the many tasks related to staying alive. The slower it is, the less energy it burns performing these same tasks.
Funny enough, a slower metabolism is actually considered to be MORE efficient than a fast one. This is because a person with a slower metabolism requires less energy from food to survive…
This isn't to say that having a slow metabolism is preferred, but there are some statistics out there that show people who eat fewer calories live longer. Source
Although there may be some life extension benefits from a slower metabolism, the majority of people struggling with their metabolism likely experience multiple unwanted side effects.
These can be as simple as minor fatigue to as complicated as hypothyroidism (low metabolism is often a symptom for this).
People who have a slower metabolism often assume they have a damaged metabolism.
(I am sure you have a friend or acquaintance who constantly blame their weight on their "damaged" metabolism...)
You’ll soon learn why this is not necessarily the case…
Slow metabolisms aren’t necessarily due to health complications or damage… in fact, there are many reasons people suffer, or think they suffer, from a slowed metabolism that has nothing to do with health complications.
Metabolism Speeds Differ Between People
One reason you may have a slower metabolism may simply be due to genetics, not actual metabolic damage.
For instance, one study reported basal metabolic rates from as low as 1,027 calories per day to as high as 2,499 calories per day, with a mean BMR of 1,500 calories per day.
(Basal Metabolic Rate refers to the number of calories your body burns without physical activity… it’s simply the number of calories you need to perform bodily functions.)
Here is another study by Aberdeen Centre for Energy Regulation and Obesity that showed how BMR can vary between people with nearly identical levels of lean mass and fat mass.
The subjects all had similar body sizes (muscle, fat, etc.), however, the top 5% of subjects with higher BMRs metabolized energy almost 30% faster than the lowest 5%! That's basically an entire meal extra!
“Energy In” isn’t as simple as we think…
There are many reasons why the amount of energy you are taking in is not as accurate as you may have been lead to believe…
For one, The amount of calories on food labels can vary 20-25%!
Secondly, the way our body uses and processes calories is out of our control. You could eat 100 calories from food, but the amount of that energy used for energy or stored as fat can differ between people greatly.
Finally, we tend to store more fat from calories coming from processed foods than calories coming from whole foods…
This is one of the reasons why I promote eating a diet consisting of mostly healthy, whole foods.
The Body is Smarter Than You Think
Weight loss is all about consuming fewer calories than your body is using (which results in the body turning to fat stores for fuel), However, it’s slightly more complicated than “calories in vs. calories out”.
When ‘energy in’ goes down, ‘energy out’ goes down to match it.
When ‘energy in’ goes up, ‘energy out’ tends to go up too.
For example, when you eat fewer calories, your body responds by burning fewer calories through exercise, metabolic processes, etc.
The opposite occurs when you increase calories (the body’s energy expenditure goes up).
Understanding these different ways metabolisms can slow down, speed up, and differ from person to person is crucial for weight loss success.
Can Dieting Damage Your Metabolism?
A popular belief is that chronically dieting can cause damage to one’s metabolism.
While chronic dieting can lead to a host of negative side effects ( such as Low Testosterone and Hypothyroidism), actual damage to your metabolism is probably not one of them…
When you lose weight, your body undergoes adaptations in response to fat loss (to prevent that fat loss, in fact)...
For instance, simply being leaner can results in needing 5-15% less calories…
That’s right... just from being leaner and needing less energy!
Have you dieted down from a heavier body weight? If that’s the case, you may find that you need fewer calories than someone of similar weight to you…
This is because BMRs vary between people and dieting down naturally lowers your BMR.
In fact, someone who has dieted down to a certain weight may need 200-300 calories less than someone who has naturally been at that weight all their life! (source)
Yah… it sucks, but it’s just the way it is!
Your “damaged” metabolism is probably just the fact that your metabolism is slower than others.
But here's some good news...having a slower metabolism DOES NOT mean you can’t lose weight!
Weight Loss Tips for a Slow Metabolism
If you have a slower metabolism, there are some things you can do to help yourself out and make losing weight easier…
1.Eating enough protein. Protein is needed to build muscle and repair body tissues. It also takes the most energy of the three macronutrients to break down and use for energy. Increase your protein intake if you want to naturally burn about 100-200 more calories.
2. Eat more whole foods. I am a big fan of eating whole foods. Interestingly, we store more calories as fat from processed foods than whole foods. Whole foods also help you stay full and can prevent vitamin/mineral deficiencies
3. You may need to adjust your calories. Your stalled weight loss may simply be due to eating too many calories. Remember; your energy needs naturally decrease as you drop fat. Eventually, you’ll plateau and need to adjust your calories or food intake accordingly.
4. Start Weight Lifting. Lifting weights both increases your energy output AND increases the amount of muscle mass you have. Having more muscle mass will naturally increase your metabolism because muscle requires more energy and has been shown to increase resting metabolic rates in people.
Understanding how your individual metabolism works plays a crucial role in the success of your weight loss journey.
Your metabolism will slow down slightly as you become leaner, so be prepared to make changes to your diet and exercise regimen along the way.
If you have a naturally slower metabolism, realize that you CAN lose weight, you may just have to push a little harder than others...
If you do have a slow metabolism, I suggest using the tips I gave for increasing your metabolism naturally… this should help aid your weight loss efforts.
Have a question about this article or would like more info? feel free to email me!