I’ve got good news and bad news. If you’ve been blaming your metabolism for not being able to lose weight, you’re right. The bad news is your body is using its metabolism to fight your efforts to lose weight.
Thanks to shows like The Biggest Loser, scientists are making some surprising discoveries. Added to what they already know about weight gain and loss, it paints a grim picture for those looking for a quick way to drop some pounds – and keep them off.
We already know that as you get older, your body doesn’t need as many resting calories (the amount of food you need to just breathe) as when you were young. Plus, as you age, you tend to be less active – a double whammy that sets your body’s caloric needs even lower.
It’s also known that after dieting, the body re-sets its caloric needs closer to the lower amounts of foods you’ve been eating. So even a few indulgences after the diet is over the pounds can creep back on. Though most normal dieters’ metabolism will rebound a little, those who lose a lot of weight at once not only don’t see that rebound.
But the calorie needs of those who complete a diet are still often less than another person of the same weight, age and gender. Much less in the case of those who lose a lot of weight – like the people on The Biggest Loser. Not only that, but some of the hormones that control hunger are out of whack making extreme dieters feel hungry all the time.
While researchers study a fix for that, what do you do right now if you want to lose weight and keep it off? Forget the quick fixes. Extreme or quick weight loss can mess up your system. Plus the eating and exercise required to do that aren’t practical in the long run. Think slow and steady. That way, your body – and you – can adjust to.
Eat at the Weight You Want to Be
First thing to do is determine your resting metabolism rate – but not for the weight you’re at now. Use your target weight instead. When choosing your activity level, select Sedentary.
You’ll see two values – your BMR (resting rate) and the number of calories you can consume to maintain the weight you entered. Use the second number for your calorie counting.
NOTE: If you need to lose more than 20 pounds, divide the total you want to lose into 20 pound increments. So if you weigh 200 lbs now and want to get down to 160, use a target weight of 180. When you reach that, calculate again for 160 lbs.
Make Room for Mistakes
You have to get moving! And for life! Adding activity will give you some wiggle room for going over your daily calorie requirements…and that metabolism slowdown that comes with age.
Plan on AT LEAST 2-3 days of light activity each week. Light activity is a 20 minutes of leisurely walking, light household or outdoor chores or other low intensity (no sweating) exercise/movement. If you can be active enough to break a sweat 2 ½ hours a week, you’re at the moderate activity level.
I know, it’s tough to be patient but until there’s a magic (and safe) pill, it all comes down to watching what you eat and getting out of the chair.