A UK television program undertook a study on what the secret of being slim was, focusing on metabolism as the mechanism to weight loss.
Two women who had very different body types took part in the documentary:
- Becky was very tall and slim, even a little underweight
- Jo was shorter than her friend and overweight
They believed that they were different weights because of their metabolism. Both fasted for 12 hours before having their metabolic rate accurately measured in the lab using a ventilation hood. They drank some special liquid to help measure their metabolism – the total amount of calories consumed as well as the total number of calories burned off over the week.
The results revealed that both had very similar and low activity levels, but in fact Jo ate 50% more than she needed. Becky was underweight, simply because she didn’t eat enough to supply her body with the energy it needs. Due to her extra weight, Jo had a a faster metabolism than slim Becky. This was because moving more weight requires more effort. Jo had a weight problem not because of a slow metabolism, but because of her eating habits.
The documentary showed that a slow metabolism is not always to blame for excess weight gain. It also suggested that overweight people tend to have a higher metabolism than those who are slim and underweight.
It seems that one fact remains: if we consume more calories than our body requires, we will put weight on.
The trick is to find new ways to eat so you consume fewer total calories than your body requires. But how can it seem that some people can eat loads and never gain weight? For example slimmer people might:
- eat little and often
- have low calorie meals
- have low calorie snacks
- leave food on the plate means less calories consumed
- be more active and energetic
Also, intake of food can sometimes become hidden through portion size. As a result, some overweight people may feel that they don’t eat much because they only have 2 or 3 meals each day, but in fact consume a lot of calories because the portions are so large. For example, one Chinese take-away meal can contain as much as 1500 calories – 3/4 the total recommended daily intake for women.
Good News for the Slow Metabolism
Many overweight people tend to have a higher metabolic rate, which can help to maintain weight loss when calories are reduced. However, it is also important to complement your natural metabolism by eating regularly and an effective exercise routine suited to your specific body type and lifestyle.