Myth: My sluggish metabolism caused my weight gain


Is a slow metabolism to blame for my weight gain? – The truth about metabolism



Sluggish Metabolism

Sluggish Metabolism

Slow metabolism is probably not the answer.  Yes, there is such a thing as a slow metabolism, but a slow metabolism is rarely the cause fo weight gain or obesity.  Usually, obesity is a result of interactions between your genetics, diet, physical activity.  If you’re concerned about slow metabolism causing you increased weight, talk to your medical provider about healthy changes you can make.  If you still think you have a slow metabolism, your medical provider can check your metabolism with laboratory testing of your blood chemistry hormone levels.  Those rare conditions are rare but they still occur but do not be surprised when you find you do not have one.  

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.  Even when you’re at rest or sleep, your body needs energy for functions such as breathing, circulating blood, and repairing cells.  The number of calories your body uses for these basic functions, without exercise or exertion, is known as your basal metabolic rate.  The basal metabolic rate is dependent on your lean body mass (size and composition), genetic gender, and age. Muscle burns for calories than fat, males burn more calories than females, and younger people burn more calories.  Genetics play a huge role in your metabolism.  You have no control over any of these factors.

Rather than turn to a nebulous cause that we cannot control such as a slow metabolism, we should turn to factors that we can control.  Although you cannot control your age metabolism, gender, muscle mass, or genetics, we can control how much we eat, our physical activity, our level of sleep, and the medications we take. Some medications can cause weight gain and should be discussed with your medical provider.  I do not recommend stopping medications without that discussion.  We can easily reduce the amount of food we eat, increase our exercise and increase the amount of sleep we get to increase our weight loss or decrease our weight gain and improve our waist circumference.  All three of these items can influence the calories we burn and thus increase weight loss.  

The bottom line: You may have a slower than average metabolism, but there’s little that you can do to increase it outside of changing the foods you eat and the amount of exercise you obtain.  You can manipulate your metabolism to a degree, but you are better off manipulating the factors that will make the biggest impact and that is improving diet quality and It’sactivity.  Simple things such as reducing empty calories, increasing protein consumption, an increase in calories burned through exercise can make a huge difference in your waistline over time.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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