Do you know somebody who eats whatever they want and doesn’t gain weight? Yet, every time you just look at a piece of cake you gain two pounds. This is your metabolism at work. Metabolism refers to the number of calories the body burns. The calories your body burns at rest is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). A person’s resting metabolic rate accounts for 60% to 75% of their total calories expended daily. Simply put, people who gain weight easily have a lower metabolism. People who have trouble gaining weight have a higher metabolism.
Changing Your Metabolism
Though many people think they are stuck with their slow metabolism, this isn’t completely true. Weight training and proper nutrition will increase a person’s metabolism. Muscle is the biggest determining factor of a person’s metabolism. Muscle acts as the body’s furnace. The more muscle a person has, the more calories they will burn. Many studies have been done that concluded that resistance-trained (weight-lifting) individuals have a 10% – 25% higher RMR than those of sedentary people. Studies show that for every pound of muscle added to the body, 50 to 90 more calories are burned throughout the day. Just think, adding 10 more pounds of muscle will increase your RMR by 500 to 900 calories more a day.
The Ups and Downs of Yo-Yo Diets
Yo-Yo dieting is a sure fire way to slow down your metabolism. When people restrict calories dramatically, they can just as easily decrease the body’s metabolism by 10%. When a person loses weight too rapidly, their metabolism can plummet another 10%. The longer a person continues to crash diet, the more muscle the person will lose. Thus causing the metabolism to slow down even more. There are several reasons that the body’s metabolism slows down through this type of dieting. First, the body thinks it’s starving. In order to protect itself, the body slows down it’s metabolism. The body doesn’t know how long it will have to go on with a low calorie diet. The second reason is that when a person loses weight very quickly, most of it will be muscle. Remember, muscle is the body’s furnace. Less muscle equals a lower metabolism. In the end, people gain all the weight back along with increased body fat. Most yo-yo dieters gain even more weight than before.
Oprah is an example of this type of dieting. In 1988 Oprah lost 69 pounds using Optifast. Once she was off the diet and her metabolism was off-key, she proceeded to gain back all of the weight plus an additional 20 pounds. Not until working with personal trainer, Bob Green, did Oprah lost the weight with good technique. They accomplished this through weight training, aerobics and proper nutrition.
I Do Aerobics, Isn’t That All I Need?
Aerobic exercise typically burns 400 to 650 calories, while a weight-training workout burns less than half of that. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise has very little effect on RMR. The reason is because no muscle is being developed during aerobic exercise. A study done at North Dakota State found that subjects who trained with weights and aerobics lost an average of 10 pounds of fat and gained 13 pounds of fat free mass. The subjects also increased their RMR about 380 Kcal (calories) per day. The results of doing only weights or just aerobics alone paled in comparison. Both weight training and aerobics are needed to get your metabolism to work for you.