Anyone who has ever struggled with weight knows that it can be irritating when it seems that everyone around you can eat whatever they want without gaining a pound. But you just hear the words “cheeseburger” and the scale starts creeping up. The truth is linked to factors that you may or may not be taking into account.
Do you really understand metabolism? Many people talk about metabolism as though it is a single entity in your body, but it is a function that takes place in all cellular tissues. Each cell burns the calories that you consume as energy. When you discuss your metabolism, you are talking about the overall combination of tissues turning food into fuel. Most of the energy you burn actually happens when your body is at rest. You then burn more calories when you are active, like during exercise.
So why do people who have similar body types and eat the same foods not weigh the same? It is still something of a mystery. But there are some factors that can help you lose weight, even if the pounds drop off slower for you than for your spouse or friend.
Genetic background is commonly blamed for people being overweight or obese. And while genetics likely play a role, they are not the only factor. Rates of obesity began to soar in the 1980s, and scientists have realized in that 10 or 20 year period genetics could not have changed that much.
Factors that likely do play a role in why some people gain weight more easily than others are height, body fat, liver size, levels of the stress hormone cortisol and other factors that differ between individuals. The time you eat may also play a role in whether or not your body uses your caloric intake as fuel or stores it as fat. Even the diversity of the microbes in your gut play a role in breaking down and digesting your food. Some people may have healthier, more active bacteria that thrive, so food gets broken down more quickly rather than sitting around and leading to weight gain.
You may have also noticed that getting older seems to have slowed down your metabolism. Scientists are not sure why your energy needs drop even as you age, but it does help to explain why older people need to eat less.
Despite the promises of fad diets, you cannot speed up your metabolism. Your body tends to adapt to a certain size, so dropping weight from a crash diet can actually slow down your metabolism further. So try to maintain a steady weight by healthy eating habits and exercise.