Metabolism and losing weight
It’s not unusual to hear people blame their weight gain on a slow metabolism.
They’ve cut down on calories and take regular exercise yet they’re still not losing weight. The only other possible diagnosis, they expertly conclude, is a slow metabolism.
Body size, age, gender and genes all play a role in determining your metabolic rate.
Muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells, so people with a higher muscle to fat ratio tend to have a higher BMR.
As we get older, we tend to gain fat and lose muscle. This explains why the BMR tends to decrease with age.
In general, men tend to have a faster metabolism as they have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat than women, which is why their daily calorie allowance is higher.
An average man needs around 2,500kcal a day. For an average woman, this figure is around 2,000kcal a day. These values can vary depending on age and levels of physical activity, as well as other factors.
Your metabolism may be partly determined by your genes, although this is not yet fully understood. Genes definitely play a role in muscle size and your ability to grow muscles, both of which affect your metabolism.
Studies show that some overweight people may actually have a higher metabolism than their leaner counterparts. This is because they have larger bodies with bigger muscles and internal organs.
Research has also shown that people tend to eat more than they think they do. When asked to write down everything they’ve consumed in a day, many people tend to report eating far less than they actually do.
More often than not, the reason you’re putting on weight is not because of a slow metabolism, it’s because you’re eating too much. It may be hard to accept, but staying on top of the number of calories you eat is key to losing weight and keeping it off.
It is claimed that certain foods and drinks can boost your metabolism, including green tea, black coffee, spices and energy drinks. The evidence behind these claims is flimsy, the effect on your metabolism is marginal at best and each person will respond differently to each product.