Monday, May 4, 2009

My Metabolism is Too Slow For Weight Loss

I have been diagnosed with hypertension and need to lose weight. I am a 50 year old male. I dont have a thyroid problem, but I must have a slow metabolism as I have had a hard time losing weight since about my forties. I am quite active and don't eat that much, no junk at all. Last month I cut out all red meat and that seemed to trigger something as I have lost two pounds. That still doesnt seem like much. Is that below average for guys like me? I didn't change the calories totals just cut out red meat (I always ate lean red meat). Why would that make a difference? Thanks! Barry

Dear Barry,
Congratulations on your weight loss so far, and on your commitment to changing your diet to improve your health!

I haven't found people who actually have a slow metabolism, as much as people who eat more than they realize they are eating! We all tend to underestimate portion sizes and forget about snacks we munch on between meals.

Some of the weight you've lost recently may be due, in part, to just being more aware of the desire to lose weight... maybe you go to grab something and subconsciously think, "No, I am trying to lose weight--I'm not going to have that now because I'm not really hungry". I'm not sure why cutting meat out would have helped--are you having smaller portions of chicken/fish than you would beef? Do you have different side dishes with red meat that you are no longer having?

If I could make a single suggestion for weight loss that is the most effective, it would be to keep a food diary. Many studies over decades have shown that people who log their intake consistently lose more weight than those who don't, even if all of the subjects are on the same diet and exercise regimen!

Also consider keeping an exercise log... are you physically active in your job? Or do you also find a way to burn calories for 30 or 40 minutes during the day doing something you enjoy (whether it's biking, basketball, or working out at the gym). If you believe you are active, take a few days to wear a pedometer and see how many steps you take during a typical day--we often tend to overestimate how active we are, just as we underestimate how much we eat!

Finally, when it comes to weight loss, aim for slow and steady. You didn't mention how much you weigh, but healthy guidelines suggest we aim for 10% of our body weight in six months--that's just 25 pounds by October if you weigh 250 now. This may be a very different idea if you are like most people who want to lose 25 pounds in a month or two! But it's most important to change habits that will keep the weight off, so you're not stuck with the weight back on in eight months and looking for another way to diet.

Here's to your slow and steady success!

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