Do other people appear to eat more calories than you, but stay slim whilst you gain weight? How annoying and unfair is that?! We have seen this in the case of Alice and Mia in the previous article. In that instance, the culprit was a gut bacterial imbalance. But another issue might be at work a faster metabolism.

Melissa’s story

Since she’d been a teenager, Melissa had been watching her weight. Her sister, who had never dieted in her life, ate more than she did and was a healthy size. So how come, Melissa, who had followed every diet out there since the age of sixteen, was overweight? She hadn’t even really been overweight when she started dieting.

She’d just wanted to be able to squeeze into a fabulous dress she bought for her cousin’s wedding. By the time Melissa came to me, she’d spent the last fifteen years yo-yo dieting, losing half a stone, then slowly regaining it plus a few extra pounds. Then she’d try another diet, with the same demoralizing results.

When I told her that dieting is associated with future weight gain, particularly in those who are in the healthy range of body weight to start with, Melissa was shocked. As she said, that really didn’t seem fair! But it made her realize that she had to stop dieting and find a way of eating healthily that would work for her long term.

Yo-yo dieting and weight cycling, I explained, may have slowed her metabolism. Having a slower metabolism, she didn’t burn as much fat. So, boosting her metabolism was a priority. The best way to do this is to exercise and build muscle. Melissa hated the gym or any organized sport.

However, she was going to have to be more physically active. I asked her what exercise she’d enjoyed as a child ice skating and swimming, but she hadn’t done either for years. She decided to give them a try, incorporating exercise into her life, as the key to sustaining any weight loss.

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How your metabolism affects your weight?

Your metabolism determines how much food you need to run your body and keep its vital processes going. We need energy, from our food, to keep our bodies alive. We use energy to breathe, to digest our food, to heal, and for every essential activity. Some people require more energy than others.

These people have a faster metabolism. In their case, the vital processes that go on in their body, such as breathing and digestion, use up more calories. If you have a slower metabolism, you require less energy (calories) to run your body. You, therefore, need less food. The slower your metabolism, the less you can eat before you start to gain weight.

Read More About Calories for Weight Loss

What determines your metabolic rate?

Most of the factors that determine your metabolic rate are linked to the amount of muscle you have. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is likely to be. This is why men tend to have a faster metabolism than women, as they generally have more muscle. As we get older, we often gain fat but lose muscle.

This slows our metabolic rate. Although there may be a genetic component to your metabolism, there is a complex interaction between your genes, the environment in which you live, and your behavior. Your genes alone are not going to make you overweight. You may be more predisposed than someone else to gain weight, but that does not mean it is inevitable.

You can still make choices about what you eat and how active you are. These choices will affect your weight and your metabolism. It is also important to stop yo-yo dieting. Whilst your metabolism may be slower than someone else’s, don’t be tempted to blame your excess weight on that. This is only one piece of the jigsaw, and blaming a slower metabolism stops you from empowering yourself to do anything to change this.

Quick questionnaire Is your metabolism contributing to your weight?

If you answer Yes to three or more questions, then your metabolism may be making it harder for you to lose weight.

  1. Do you put on weight, even when you are not eating much? (Be honest with yourself about how much you really eat. Many people consume far more than they realize.)
  2. Are you constantly tired?
  3. Do you suffer from depression or low mood?
  4. Are you sensitive to the cold?
  5. Do you have dry skin and hair or hair loss?
  6. Do your muscles ache?
  7. Do you suffer from constipation?
  8. Do you do less than thirty minutes of exercise, five days a week?

Key things you have learned in this article

If you have a faster metabolism, you can eat more without putting on weight.

  • If you have a slower metabolism, you gain weight more easily.
  • Several factors affect your metabolism, but most are linked to the amount of muscle you have. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is likely to be.

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