The Connection between Metabolism and Weight Loss (or Gain!)
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Did you know that your metabolism controls your entire body and how it functions? You probably already knew that, but I learned about this when I found out that I had Thyroid Disease over eight years ago. Before that, I didn’t realize the importance of the body’s metabolic rate.
The thyroid, albeit a small unobtrusive gland, located on both sides of your wind pipe, produces a hormone that controls things like your body temperature, heart, digestive system, brain development, bone maintenance, energy levels, and caloric burn. The thyroid (and the thyroid hormone) and metabolism go hand in hand. One doesn’t exist without the other.
I realized years ago that I was feeling fatigued, that my weight had major issues, and that I was sensitive to cold. I had no idea that they were all related to an underactive thyroid. My weight issues made perfect sense when I connected the lack of energy to what was not working in my body. So to make a very long story short, once I got the thyroid under control with the proper hormone levels my metabolism started working in my favor. To put it plainly, metabolism is the process of your body converting everything you eat and drink into energy. Energy (or the lack thereof) ties directly into weight loss (or gain).
So, since our metabolic rate (energy levels) has much to do about our body issues, I thought I would share a little bit of information about that. I learned about how various factors can affect your metabolism like age, gender, and heredity. As we get older, our metabolism slows down. Since men have more muscle than women, their metabolism is faster than ours (it’s just not fair!). Sometimes we can inherit good genes and have a great metabolic rate and other times we just have to deal with the cards we are dealt. Essentially, we have many factors to contend with, and if you have other issues aside from age, gender, and heredity to deal with, then metabolism can be your worst enemy. But, I’m proof that you should not give up hope.
Some things that you can do to boost your metabolism are: drinking green tea, taking vitamin D supplements, eating right, exercising, and eating frequently – yes I did say eating frequently. Some people think that the key to boosting weight loss and metabolism are eating less frequently and less food (to a certain extent). Well, the truth is that will actually destroy your metabolism and sabotage your weight loss efforts. Experts say that we should eat something approximately every two hours to keep the metabolism going. Approximately six small meals per day is suggested.
Think about this scenario. Let’s say you decide Monday you will start your lifestyle change (not diet because diet is temporary). You plan out your meal plan based on what you think is best for you by modifying the amount of food you will eat throughout each day. You counted calories and you decided to go on a 1000 calorie a day meal plan (By the way, I don’t suggest this). You’ve done your shopping and are ready to go. You say you’re not going to snack because snacking is the devil! You’ve planned that you are going to eat two meals per day (skipping breakfast and only having coffee) at no more than 1000 calories. Monday is here and you start your day. You say to yourself I will only have my coffee, some lunch and dinner and you are determined to stick with that plan. You even start doing some walking for exercise. Tuesday is here – same thing…Wednesday – same thing, but you realize your energy is diminishing.
Thursday you decide to forgo the walking; you’re just too tired. “I’ll do some exercise tomorrow,” you say to yourself. Finally, you decide Saturday’s will be your weigh-in days. It’s Saturday and you can’t wait to get on the scale. Whoo Hoo, you lost five pounds! Fast forward you’re still doing the plan you put yourself on and you’re a month in. You’re still a bit tired, but are determined to make this work. It’s Saturday again and you discover that you haven’t lost any more weight. You’re not giving up, though. A week later and you discovered that you haven’t lost any weight again. You’ve plateaued. You’re frustrated. You can’t understand why you hit a plateau. Then, after doing some research on metabolism, you realize that you may have sabotaged yourself by limiting your calories to 1000 calories a day and only eating two times a day, skipping breakfast, which actually jump starts your metabolism.
So, why did the plateau occur? Well, when you restrict your calories, you can actually throw your body into starvation mode because it thinks that it needs to hold onto fat, protein, etc. for the preservation of the body’s basic functions. For this reason, we need to eat more times a day and incorporate some healthy snacks in between the regular meals. Just like a car is not going to run without gas (fuel), our bodies are not going to run without food and water (fuel).
Of course, the scenario I just laid before you is a dramatization. However, plateaus do happen. They happen for some people sooner than other people – it all depends on your body. In addition to diminished energy, just for your reference another reason to not restrict your calories too low is because your body needs a certain amount of calories for basic function on a daily basis. A health professional can figure out the best amount of daily calories for you. When I was losing weight, it was determined by my nutritionist that my daily caloric intake should be between 1200 and 1500 calories a day with an incorporation of daily exercise.
Don’t starve yourselves. There’s too much good food out there to enjoy! The best thing to do is reduce your calories to a healthy amount for your size and for the amount of weight you want to lose (I encourage you to see a health professional for that info), decrease your portion sizes, and incorporate some exercise into your daily routine and you have the recipe to attaining your weight loss goals. Again, don’t starve yourselves! The metabolism will work against you if you do that.
There is no cut and dry cookie-cutter approach to anyone’s plan to losing weight and seeing if the metabolism is the cause of low energy levels contributing to the lack of weight loss. There are a series of things to do to determine what the cause of a possible slowed metabolism is. I have to stress that you consult with your doctor and/or nutritionist for help in this area. You need to study your body and how it responds to different things, i.e. certain foods or stopping your food intake at a certain hour.
You might need blood work done to get your hormones checked. You might need to tweak your diet. You might need to relax a little and reduce your stress. You might need to get more sleep. You might need to exercise more often. The point is you have to test yourself to see what you need to do to solve the problem. Nothing is impossible with God on your side. He wants us to take care of our bodies and be successful at maintaining good health and wellness. Again, it can be done. I know you can do it!
Live, laugh, love, and pray.
God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness,
Antoinette Shar’ron Johnson
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LinkedIn: Antoinette Johnson, MAEd
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