The tried and proven formula for weight loss is more calories out than calories in plus exercise. But, not so fast!
First, it could be because of a slow metabolism rate. As we age, metabolism slows. We lose about 5-7 pounds of muscle mass every ten years after age 35. By age 60, most people have lost about 28 pounds of muscle and have replaced most of that with more fat. Muscles burn about seventy times more calories than fat cells. The more muscle, the higher metabolic rate we have and the more calories we burn even while sleeping.
Body fat is not a metabolically active tissue like muscle. It just sits on us doing nothing. The more fat we have sitting around, the slower our metabolic rate is.
So, increase your muscle mass by exercising and decrease your body fat.
Second, yo-yo dieting causes decreased muscle mass and increases body fat. Repeat dieters lose more muscle mass than those who eat nutritious and healthy small portion meals at least three times daily with a 100-150 calorie mid-afternoon and bedtime healthy snack. This regime keeps the metabolic fires burning up calories!
Even with fad diets that result in rapid weight loss, only approximately half of the pounds lost are fat. The rest is usually metabolically active active muscle and water. So, it’s no wonder that the pounds come back on with a vengeance causing more dieting, then weight gain, and more dieting and more loss of muscle mass.
Third, skipping meals is a big factor that slows our metabolic rate. If we go without eating for more than 12 hours, our metabolic rate slows down by about 40 percent! 40 percent! If you are like me, I thought skipping meals, especially breakfast, was a sure fire way to lose weight! But, that is a sure fire recipe for weight gain. Ughh! It’s compounded by consuming high carbs and food high in fats because of our hunger from missed meals. I used to think I could miss a meal and make up for it by eating a big dinner. Boy, was I wrong again! With a lowered metabolic rate from skipping meals, our body will not burn as many calories.
Through chronic weight loss diets and binge eating, our metabolism becomes so compromised that it is barely functioning. This means our body isn’t burning fuel the way it should be. Not burning those fuel-giving carbs packs on the weight.
Fourth, chronic stress lowers our metabolic rate and causes weight gain. Under stress, our body releases hormones called the fight or flight hormones. When our body is unable to fight or flee, these hormones leave us stewing in our own stress juices. Not good! Our blood pressure rises. Our heart rate speeds up, and our breathing becomes rapid and shallow.
Stress programs us for fat storage and contributes to insulin resistance meaning glucose in the blood is not being delivered properly to organs in the body. This can lead to Type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride which form plaque in the arteries leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Fifth, gender is also a factor. Women typically have a higher body fat percentage and a lower metabolic rate. They typically carry 7 to 8 percent more fat than men even at a healthy weight. Moreover, their metabolic rate declines at approximately 5 percent per decade starting at age twenty.
It’s not uncommon for women to have 50 percent body fat or more than men stemming from gender, lack of exercise, and metabolic compromise. Plus, it’s harder for a woman to lose weight than a man.
Sixth, perhaps the greatest cause of muscle loss is inactivity. The less active we are, the more body fat we keep and the more muscle we lose. By age 60, most people have lost about 28 pounds of muscle and have replaced that with even more fat.
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Various anti-depressants
- Insulin stimululating medicines
- Cholesterol lowering medications
- Certain blood pressure pills like beta-blockers
Many physicians treat diseases caused by obesity (like high blood pressure and high cholesterol) with the very medicines that also lower the metabolic rate and result in weight gain. (Note: I’m not recommending coming off these medications. I take blood pressure and cholesterol meds. I’ve talked with my doctor about coming off these. He says, “Not yet.” Always consult with your physician before you come off any meds).
Seventh, weight gain and no weight loss could be caused by a malfunctioning thyroid gland. Thyroid blood tests should be done regularly if you have a weight issue. Ask your doctor to perform TSH test to determine if you have a thyroid issue. Unfortunately again, gender plays a big part in thyroid problems. The majority of those suffering from thyroid issues are women. Sadly, many of them don’t know it and struggle to lose weight, but can’t figure out why the pounds won’t come off. Obesity adversely affects the thyroid too. The thyroid’s ability to produce hormones also declines with age.
So, if you’re trying to lose weight with little or no success, there could be other components involved besides calories in and calories out. To me, it seems our body has a mind of its own. I think the key is to learn about and understand our body-mind rather than kicking ourself when the fat refuses to budge. Body understanding and body awareness can lead to solutions for our weight problem. My endocrinologist (Type 1 diabetic here) has been vital in helping me understand and lose a few pounds. I have a long way to go, but I’m further along than I was three months ago. I think your doctor and a nutritionist along with self-education can and will solve our issues with weight.
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