Dr. Wiggins' Diet Tip of the Week
The Effect of Metabolic Rate on Weight Loss During Dieting
Dieters often complain that though they are eating less, they don’t seem to be losing the weight that they should. This problem is not in their imagination, it is related to a person’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and the human body’s natural defense against starvation. The BMR is the amount of calories a person burns on a daily basis just to “stay alive”. These calories are burned to maintain the body’s temperature of 98.6 Fahrenheit or so and to maintain the body’s tissues. For a 180 pound person who is 30 percent body fat, the body burns about 1600 calories a day at rest.
Here is the problem. When a person starts to diet, the body interprets this as starvation and acts to slow down the metabolism. The result is that the dieter does not lose weight or loses less than they should because the body just slowed down to compensate. The solution is for dieters to take steps to increase their metabolic rate and prevent it from falling during the time they are dieting. This will cause them to lose the weight they deserve to lose.
There are several ways to speed up the metabolism. Regular exercise speeds the metabolism all day - not just when you are dieting. Be careful though. Exercise that is too intense increases the appetite. Caffeine speeds the metabolism. Just don’t add too much sugar or cream to that coffee! Turning down the thermostat in your home (within reason, for example, from 72 degrees to 68) will also cause your metabolism to burn more calories to maintain your body temperature.
Pregnancy increases the metabolic rate by about 15 percent to support the growth of the infant. Though pregnant women generally should not diet, this tendency to increase the metabolic rate during pregnancy would quite possibly offset the tendency for the metabolism to slow down during dieting. If dieters could fool their body into thinking it is pregnant when it is not, this might more than compensate for any tendency for dieting to slow the metabolism.