Keeping Your Metabolism Humming

August 15, 2017 in Health, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Probably most of you out there in Cyberland know that if your metabolism slows down, the pounds are going to creep up on the scale. (Metabolism refers to the rate at which calories are burned by your body to grow and heal and produce energy). It seems as though many people are giving up on the battle of the bulge. That might be psychologically healthy, especially if you’re trying to maintain a stick thin goal. But when you make the decision to throw up your hands and say something like: “I just eat what I like and will weigh what that brings;” what it may bring is not what you’re likely prepared to deal with. The fact is that overweight and obesity make it much more likely that you will develop chronic diseases earlier in life.

Certainly, there are a number of things that can knock our metabolism down; some of those are:

  • Aging. It happens to all of us. Our muscle mass is so gradually reduced that we hardly notice it. Except, if we keep eating the same as always; we begin to notice the pounds creeping up.
  • A decrease in activity. This can happen to anyone; but it is also a common function of both aging and also of gaining too much weight. If too much weight is gained it can become difficult to move easily. In addition, activity may drop off as a result of orthopedic, or other painful health issues. A decrease in activity means that you’re not only burning fewer calories, but the resulting inactivity also leads to a slower metabolism.
  • Taking certain medications like antidepressants; antipsychotics and corticosteroids, for example can cause weight gain. I’ve personally been through some challenging times since I was taken off the thyroid medication I was on for about 35 years. I was used to eating for a constant ramped up metabolism for all those years. Anything that messes with our metabolism, can affect our weight.

What can be done to support a healthy metabolism?

The really good news is that it is not necessary to be stick thin to reap the benefits of a healthier body. An often-quoted study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that people who lost 7 percent of their weight had a 58 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes; which is, of course one of the chronic diseases that I’ve alluded to above. If a person weighs 200 pounds that’s only 14 pounds. That doable!

Recently I counseled a good friend for weight loss. He was amazed that as he lost weight he no longer needed to take his medication for high blood pressure. It was a pleasant surprise for him. Since his father has high blood pressure, he thought that he was relegated to taking blood pressure meds for his life. After losing the weight and going off the meds he realized that his father’s high blood pressure might also be connected to his father’s overweight.

If you only cut calories and don’t do exercise, the result will be muscle loss. That’s where the slow metabolism problem begins. As soon as you start losing metabolically active muscle, you’re slowing your metabolism. So certainly the best strategy combines both the diet changes and calorie-burning, muscle-building exercise.

I’ve written hundreds of posts about losing weight; so today I’ll pass on adding another one. Suffice it to say, that eating a balanced Mediterranean-style diet, with half of the foods in a day being vegetables and fruit; a fourth being protein foods (protein foods from both animal and plant sources can fill this goal); and the last fourth being grains. Be careful with items like soda pop and other sugary items; highly processed foods and saturated fat, like butter, and avoid too much meat.

If your metabolism has cooled down, get it revving up by gradually increasing your exercise. If you want to lose some weight, the exercise will help by using some calories and, of course, protect your muscle mass from loss during the weight loss. You and your metabolism will be humming a happy tune.