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Slow metabolism: Is it to blame for weight gain?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/slow-metabolism/AN00618
- With Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist
Donald Hensrud, M.D.read biographyclose window
Donald Hensrud, M.D.Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.
Dr. Donald D. Hensrud is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine with a joint appointment in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition at Mayo Clinic. He is an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Dr. Hensrud directed the Executive Health Program at Mayo Clinic for more than 10 years.
He received his B.S. from the University of North Dakota, M.D. from the University of Hawaii, M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota and M.S. in nutrition sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic and completed a clinical nutrition fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Hensrud is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, of which he is a past president.
His career interests have combined nutrition, weight management, and prevention. He is the author of many scientific articles and book chapters and was editor of Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody; The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, which won a 2005 James Beard Foundation award; The Mayo Clinic Plan: 10 Essential Steps to a Better Body & Healthier Life; and The Mayo Clinic Diet, published in January 2010.
Dr. Hensrud says healthy lifestyle habits in diet and physical activity are extremely important as evidenced by a large body of scientific evidence. He also says implementing these lifestyle habits is realistic, sustainable and enjoyable. A primary goal of his work is to help people achieve this.
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Slow metabolism: Is it to blame for weight gain?
Is it possible to be overweight because of a slow metabolism?
from Donald Hensrud, M.D.
Probably not. There is such a thing as a slow metabolism. But slow metabolism is rare, and it's usually not what's behind being overweight or obese — that's usually a matter of diet and exercise.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Even when you're at rest, your body needs energy for functions such as breathing, circulating blood and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses for these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Several factors determine your basal metabolic rate:
- Your body size and composition. If you weigh more or have more muscle mass, you will burn more calories, even at rest. So overweight people are more likely to have a faster metabolic rate — not a slower one.
- Your sex. If you're a man, you probably have less body fat and more muscle mass than does a woman of the same age, so you burn more calories.
- Your age. As you get older, your muscle mass decreases, which slows down the rate at which you burn calories.
Rather than slow metabolism, factors more likely to contribute to weight gain include:
- Eating too many calories
- Getting too little exercise
- Genetics and family history
- Certain medications
- Unhealthy habits, such as skipping breakfast or not getting enough sleep
If you're concerned about slow metabolism and your weight, talk to your doctor about healthy changes you can make. And if you still think you have slow metabolism, your doctor can check your metabolism or check for rare conditions that can cause problems with metabolism, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome.Next question
Breakfast: How does it help weight control?
- Bray GA, et al. Pathogenesis of obesity. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 11, 2011.
- Bray GA, et al. Etiology and natural history of obesity. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 11, 2011.
- Duyff RL. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2006.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Institute of Medicine. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309085373. Accessed July 11, 2011.
- Hensrud DD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 17, 2011.