A slug­gish me­tab­o­lism can sab­o­tage your weight-loss ef­forts. Here’s how to up it for a new you

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WEal­l­know­some­onewho says they can’t look at a let­tuce leaf with­out gain­ing weight be­cause of their “slow me­tab­o­lism”. But how do you know if you have this prob­lem? And, if so, is there any­thing that can be done about it?

Adrian Pen­zhorn, a sports sci­en­tist and di­eti­cian at Food for Sport in Cape Town, says me­tab­o­lism definitely af­fects our weight but the good news is there are ways to im­prove it.

“Weight man­age­ment is a bal­ance of en­ergy be­tween the food we eat and how much en­ergy we use daily,” he ex­plains. This is af­fected by four fac­tors: 1. The amount of en­ergy you use while at rest or not mov­ing. This is called the basal meta­bolic rate (BMR).

2. Your en­ergy use while mov­ing around ev­ery day but not ex­er­cis­ing.

3. The en­ergy re­quired to digest, ab­sorb and use food. 4. The en­ergy used to ex­er­cise. Most of the kilo­joules that you burn ev­ery day de­pends on your BMR. If your BMR is high then you will burn more kilo­joules, even while rest­ing!

“BMR varies greatly from per­son to per­son,” Adrian says. “While it’s true that a faster meta­bolic rate re­sults in more en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture, ev­ery­one has the abil­ity to in­crease or de­crease their rate which will af­fect the speed at which they lose and gain weight,” he adds.

“Mus­cle is one of the largest con­sumers of en­ergy so the amount of mus­cle we have in­flu­ences our meta­bolic rate,” he says. The more mus­cle mass you have, the more en­ergy your body needs to keep go­ing.

This is also why your meta­bolic rate de­clines along with a loss in mus­cle mass as you age.

So the se­cret to in­creas­ing your meta­bolic rate is to re­place as much fat with mus­cle. And with the tips we of­fer as well as the eat­ing plan on the fol­low­ing pages you can drop be­tween two and four kilo­grams in three to four weeks, Adrian says.

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