Understanding your Metabolism

Our metabolic rate determines the speed at which we ‘burn up’ our meals, and by raising this rate, we could lose weight faster, easily, and safely.

When we diet, by decreasing our calorie intake also radically, we cause our metabolism to slow down, which makes it progressively more difficult for us to get rid of weight. Most diets fail, yet we continue to try one after another, always hoping that each new regime will provide the ‘magic’ solution. If this sounds like your problem, there might be a simple answer. Let’s look at why most diets fail, and how strength training, combined with a wholesome food intake can accelerate your metabolism, which makes it easy for you to lose weight.

By drastically cutting our food consumption, our body’s natural instinct is to switch to a ‘starvation response.’ The fewer calories we eat, the more our bodies become effective at using these calories – leading to slower weight loss. This was once a helpful mechanism for our ancestors when food supplies were less predictable, but this ‘vicious circle’ can make life nearly impossible for the contemporary dieter.

When the body is consistently kept brief of calories, it breaks down muscle tissue to use as fuel. Our body, using water from our tissue cells, quickly washes this away causing an instantaneous reduction in weight through water loss. However, this weight loss will be short lived, and will quickly be regained when we take in the muscle we’ve lost will slow down our metabolism in the long run.

The cause of this is that every pound of muscle requires a certain number of calories each day just to maintain it. As a result, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re doing nothing, even sleeping! If you lose muscle, then your daily calorie requirement becomes less. By way of example, envision a dieter loses 10 pounds of muscle (along with maybe 20 pounds) of fat) on a strict diet. Now suppose that every pound of muscle was burning 50 calories a day. Collectively, those 10 pounds of muscle had been burning 500 calories each day. With this muscle tissue gone, the dieter must now consume 500 less calories per day so as to keep that weight-loss!

But of course people do not stick to their diets and if they return to their old eating habits, the weight they have lost, invariably comes back on. Unfortunately, whilst they lost both fat and muscle during the diet, all of the weight they regained was fat. So, even though they may weigh the same as they did when they began, they now have a good deal more fat and a lot less muscle than they did before the diet. Therefore, their metabolism is slower and their calorie requirements are less. Even if they return to their pre-diet eating habits, they still require 500 fewer calories per day due to the muscle loss. That is one reason dieters have a tendency toward regaining all of the lost weight, and conversely occasionally even gain weight later.

A good solution is an active lifestyle that includes aerobic exercise, a fantastic weight-training program, and a healthy diet containing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and plenty of lean protein. It is an excellent idea to eat ‘little and often’ — keeping your metabolism in high gear by eating 4 to 6 small meals a day, instead of one or two bigger ones. No food is forbidden, but sweets and high fat junk food are eaten less often, and in smaller amounts. A wholesome diet is a sensible and permanent way of eating — not a diet which you suffer through for a couple weeks and then give up!

The goal is to eat as many calories as possible, while losing body fat and maintaining or adding lean muscle at the exact same time. If your calories are already below normal, don’t restrict them further. Instead, maintain your current amount and instead try to become stronger and more active, so that you can gradually increase your calories to a normal healthy level. If your calorie intake is already in a healthy variety, decrease it only slightly, if necessary. A small reduction of approximately 250 calories a day, or 10-15 percent less than usual, is more inclined to protect your lean muscle, and less likely to trigger a go-slow in your metabolism.

If you follow this kind of routine, it’s possible to gain about one pound of muscle each week and lose about one pound of fat a week. The end result is that the number on the scale may not move much at all, it may even go up. Your clothes will feel looser, and you will feel great. Yet the numbers on the scale won’t move!! It is at this point that a lot of folks give up the weight training because they do not understand what is happening.

The reality is that when you are strength training it’s possible to get smaller and heavier at the exact same time, as muscle is a far denser tissue than fat. The fat takes up more space on the human body. At this point, it’s best to ignore the bathroom scales and rely on how you look and the way your clothes fit.

The conventional way of dieting may lead to a weak, tired body, exhausted by the continuous cycle of starvation and weight gain, not able to enjoy food. But by following these easy steps above, it is easy to reach your target – the slim, strong, healthy body of a naturally lean person who can enjoy their meals without guilt, for life!


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