A new study confirms what many frustrated dieters already suspect: Your metabolism might make it tougher for you to lose weight than others.
“The results corroborate the idea that some people who are obese may have to work harder to lose weight due to metabolic differences,” said lead author Dr. Martin Reinhardt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch of the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
“But biology is not destiny. Balanced diet and regular physical activity over a long period can be very effective for weight loss,” he added in an institute news release.
The small laboratory study included 12 obese men and women who underwent tests to assess their body’s energy use in response to a day of fasting. This was followed by six weeks of reduce calorie intake.
After accounting for factors such as age, sex and race, the researchers found that participants who lost the least amount of weight during the six weeks of reducing calorie intake were those whose metabolism decreased the most during fasting.
These people have what the researchers called a “thrifty” metabolism, as opposed to the “spendthrift” metabolism in participants who lost the most weight and whose metabolism decreased the least during fasting.
“When people who are obese decrease the amount of food they eat, metabolic responses vary greatly, with a ‘thrifty’ metabolism possibly contributing to less weight lost,” study co-author Susanne Votruba, an investigator at the Phoenix research branch, said in the news release.
“While behavioral factors such as adherence to diet affect weight loss to an extent, our study suggests we should consider a larger picture that includes individual physiology – and that weight loss is one situation where being thrifty doesn’t pay,” she said.
The study was published May 11 in the journal Diabetes.
The “thrifty” metabolism develops, in part, from obesity, especially central obesity (gaining weight around the abdomen and hips). When we gain weight, the body stores the fat around all ours organs in addition to what you see under the skin. Fat cells can increase their storage capacity 10 fold and the body will make new fat cells as well. The number of fat cells can double and the increased number of cells remains life long, even after dramatic weight loss.
Lack of adequate exercise allows metabolic pathways to become dormant. Eventually, those pathways fail and we are almost totally dependent of anaerobic glycolysis for providing energy to the body. This creates the fatigue that makes exercise so hard.
Clinically, I find all the metabolic syndrome factors at play in morbid obesity. Patients are insulin resistant (if not already diabetic), thyroid function is low, serum lipids are elevated, and they often have high blood pressure. The Krebs citric acid cycle is impaired, usually by deficiencies of multiple enzymes and co-enzymes.
Fortunately, Dr. Martin Reinhardt is right, with a balanced diet and adequate exercise over a long period of time, you can rebuild those metabolic pathways. However, it really helps to have a qualified nutritionist try to fill in the gaps of missing enzymes and co-enzymes.
The Bottom Line:
To spark a “thrifty” metabolism you must have a balanced diet (5 veggies, 2 fruits, & 3 protein servings per day). You also need to exercise an average of 1 hour per day. Then you have to do that for a long period of time. It will work, but I suggest you get some qualified help to guide you through the process.
Source: May 11, 2015 National Institutes of Health