If you’ve ever said or thought this then you’ll find the information herein both helpful and enlightening. For those admirably disciplined women who’ve fallen victim to such an accusation mistakenly or otherwise…kudos for all you do! In this; the first of a three part blog series; we’ll explore the factors involved in getting and staying “thin as a rail” in the real world. Women are by far the most flattering to each other of all the clients I’ve trained in my career. To say that anyone eats whatever they want and stays in perfect shape is certainly a complement to their superior genetic code; kind of like a guy calling another guy “Superman”. But are they actually failing to recognize these women’s commitment to their diets, lifestyle disciplines, and knowledge of fitness? It’s true that some women metabolize calories slightly more efficiently than others, but implying that they can eat “anything they want” all the time and not gain a pound is not only ridiculous; it’s a little insulting. So what gives some the edge over others who seem to gain a pound by merely “thinking” about chocolate?
Let’s first look at metabolism. This is the rate at which your body burns calories and rules the real world of “thin as a rail”. It differs from person to person (let’s say 1-4) depending on your muscle mass and activity. If you’re on the low end at a one or two (more common than not in today’s world) then standard diet practices don’t apply and won’t work so well for losing weight. This is why every persons meals are (or should be) individually designed for their body. Women’s resting metabolisms can very as much as 20-30% slower or faster than normal. So without even knowing it; diligent efforts may yield less or the exact opposite results than you expect! Adjusting your calories to accommodate your slower (or faster) metabolic rate will absolutely make the difference in your maintaining, gaining, and loosing weight. It also requires a clear understanding of calorie utilization and exercise. Seven times more common in women than men; many slower metabolisms are due to a biochemistry altered by years of poor eating habits, low activity, and lack of good sleep. A slightly slower metabolism (metabolism calculator) can be increased through more physical activity, resistance training, smaller more frequent meals, sleeping 8 hours a night, and good hydration. By taking in slightly less calories than you burn your body will use its respective stored fat! But be careful not to cut too many calories; your body is smart and will perceive famine; dropping your BMI and retaining fat for survival. Slow metabolisms due to thyroid gland issues (parathyroid glands over working while adrenal glands slowing down) like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis fall under the category of hypothyroidism. Thyroid conditions; treated by radioactive iodine, using T4/T3 drugs or by removal are then in need of controversial hormone replacement. More often genetic; about 3-5% of the population suffers from this and related thyroid disorders caused by medications, iodine deficiency, thyroid destruction, and pituitary or hypothalamic disease. If you’ve gained an unusual amount of weight (20lbs or more) while walking or running 5-10 miles per week and staying on a low calorie diet (1200 calories per day) and/or have this disease in your family then you should get tested by your doctor.
Somewhere around the slowest fast metabolism is where we actually want to be in order to avoid the “too fast metabolism” (Hyperthyroidism). It’s symptoms like high blood pressure, eye problems, fatigue, insomnia, emotional instability, muscle weakness, irritability, and diabetes can often be treated with anti-thyroid medications such as methimazole and propylthiouracil with results in as little as 2 weeks. Hyperthyroidism is relatively uncommon (two times less than hypothyroidism) and most of the 20-30 percent of our population’s hypothyroid cases are found in women above 65. This means most women are born with adequate metabolisms; modified by eating habits and lifestyles that slow them down. Good news being; most women are equipped with metabolisms sufficient for readily burning off fat and putting on muscle through regular dietary discipline and exercise well into their 50’s! Over the years I’ve recommended higher or lower calories for clients depending on a simple process of deduction enabling me to estimate their predicted metabolic rates. Of course the only way to know for sure is to get tested for a low metabolism by using an indirect calorimeter which is inexpensive (40-100 dollar test), very effective, and fast (10-15 minutes). Also see your doctor to test for a high metabolism as this may require very specific dietary changes. It’s your right, and could give you the confidence and understanding you need to commit to your program whole heartedly for a healthy, happier life. For woman with a slightly high or slightly low metabolism however (The majority who some think have it easy); it’s her education, discipline, and hard work that promotes her fans pontification, not her simple good fortune.
Plainly put; it’s your responsibility and duty to yourself to get the facts and follow through with the appropriate actions for making the most of your metabolism. Those of you with slightly fast metabolisms will want to eat the same or more complex carbohydrates than you burn to help stay healthy by nourishing your rapidly productive bodies while those with slower need to add muscle, aerobic activity, and cut back on your carbohydrate and fat calories (eating less than you burn) to burn off those extra pounds. Join me next blog for Lifestyle and how it effects “thin as a rail” in the real world!