Dr. Quebbemann is a renown weight loss expert and he often receives interview
requests and invitations to speak on a variety of topics related to weight
loss. One topic that is often addressed by Dr. Quebbemann is metabolism.
He recently spent some time responding to some questions about it. Here
are some of his responses:
1. Medically speaking, what is “metabolism”? What role does
it play in weight loss?
Metabolism is the way our body takes in, modifies and uses the calories
we eat and drink. Our bodies carefully regulate our metabolism through
hormones and other mechanisms to ensure that we have enough energy to
survive and to be physically active.
Experts in metabolism distinguish two general types of metabolism, resting
metabolism, also called resting metabolic rate, or RMR, and active metabolic
rate. Your resting metabolic rate represents the calories your body burns
when you’re at rest during the day, where your active metabolic
rate, AMR, includes the calories you burn while active, whether brushing
your teeth, doing housework or weight lifting.
Since your weight depends on the balance between calories taken in by eating
and drinking, and calories burned throughout the day, your active and
resting metabolic rate will affect your weight.
If your overall metabolism is higher, you will burn more calories throughout
the day, and tend to accumulate less body fat. If your total daily energy
expenditure is greater than the calories in the food you eat, then you
will lose weight.
2. What are some of the things that people/patients often don’t know
A common misconception is that many people are overweight due to a low
metabolism; this just isn’t true. Experts in weight loss know that
excess weight and obesity is caused mainly by eating too many calories
and getting too little physical exercise.
However, metabolism is affected by muscle tone and by the amount of excess
body fat a person has. People with excess body fat generally have hormone
imbalances that affect their metabolism, slowing it down, and making it
more likely that they will gain even more weight.
3. What can cause metabolism to slow down?
The most common cause of a slower metabolism in America today is lack of exercise.
4. How does aging affect metabolism?
Age tends to result in a decrease in growth hormones as well as a change
in your sex hormones, all of which will decrease your metabolism. The
effect of aging on your metabolism varies from person to person and is
determined to a large extent by your genetics. However, remaining active,
and maintaining your muscle tone and aerobic conditioning will do a lot
to decrease the effects of aging on your metabolism, allowing you to keep
your metabolism high well into your older years.
5. What are some medical conditions that can cause metabolism to slow or speed up?
The most commonly recognized disease that causes your metabolism to slow
down is hypothyroidism. However, many other conditions will cause your
metabolism to slow, including decreased testosterone or “low-T”,
menopause, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome and even stress.
6. What are some foods that can affect metabolism?
The type of food you eat has only a small effect on your metabolism, but
some food requires a lot more energy to digest and absorb into your system.
Food that takes more calories to digest results in less calories being
available for your muscles to use, but also less calories that cause weight gain.
Foods that digest easily, such as high glycemic index foods like sugar
and processed carbs, cause a sudden spike in blood sugar and a subsequent
spike in production of insulin. If you’re burning off these calories
at a rapid pace, such as during a triathlon, your body will rapidly metabolize
sugar in your muscles and liver, generating energy. If you’re not
actively burning up these calories, the increase in the hormone insulin
in your body will result in accumulation of calories in the form of fat,
even within your muscles
A “double whammy” occurs when you eat high glycemic index food,
like frosted corn flakes, when you’re sitting around, resting, because
high blood sugar levels cause a decrease in growth hormone. Decreased
growth hormone further drives down your metabolism, limits your “energy
level” and decreases your ability to maintain lean muscle mass.
7. Can the manner in which you eat affect your metabolism (eating regularly
throughout the day vs. starving and gorging, for example)?
The way a person eats does have some effect on metabolism, but it’s
a small effect in general. Fasting for long periods will result in a decrease
in a person’s basal metabolic rate, but this is not a common problem.
Short term fasting, on a daily basis, such as skipping meals, will also
result in an intermittent decrease in resting metabolic rate.
8. Can exercise affect metabolism – for example, can your overall
metabolism be elevated by exercising regularly?
Mild, easy activity, such as relaxed walking, has little effect on your
hormones. More strenuous exercise, the kind that makes you sweat, causes
an increase in the levels of many hormones in your body, including Growth
Hormone and Testosterone, both in men and in women. This results in increased
calories being burned, not only during exercise, but also afterwards as
your muscles repair themselves and grow stronger and bigger. As a result,
not only does your metabolism dramatically increase during strenuous exercise,
but your basal metabolic rate increases, meaning you burn more calories
in between workouts as well.
A little known, but very important fact, is that excess body fat causes
your overall metabolism to decrease. Your muscles lose their normal ability
to metabolize the calories that you eat, and instead your those calories
get stored in your body as fat. So, as people lose muscle tone, and become
more overweight, their tendency to accumulate fat increases.
9. Is gender a factor in metabolism?
Gender is a definite factor in metabolism, but not much of a factor in
energy balance. Men have more testosterone which results in an increased
energy level and helps to build muscle, resulting in increased basal metabolic
rate, and increased calorie burning during exercise. This simply means
that men need more energy intake to balance out calories burned. However,
men are just as likely to consume more calories than they need, resulting
in an imbalance that causes weight gain.
10. Can hormonal issues affect metabolism, and how?
Hormones are molecules produced by our body that control everything from
when we sleep, to energy level, sex drive, hunger and also metabolism.
Diseases such as hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and Cushing’s
syndrome (too much cortisol) change your metabolism causing weight gain.
But, more commonly, hormone levels are changed slightly by how we live;
in other words our lifestyle and physical health significantly changes
our hormones. Increase stress, lack of exercise, poor muscle tone and
obesity will all cause an imbalance in testosterone, cortisol, insulin
and growth hormone resulting in abnormal mood swings, decreased sex drive,
low energy, and weight gain. Keeping fit, helps maintain a normal hormone
balance, preventing many of these problems.
If you are having difficulty achieving permanent weight loss, The N.E.W.
Program team is here to help!
Our team of physicians are experts in weight loss and have experience working through all obstacles
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