Wednesday, May 13, 2009

High metabolism is not the answer!

What is the right metabolism? Is there a best for everyone, or is it different for each person?

There are weight loss techniques which advocate the consumption of many "small" meals, six to eight, per day. The goal being to provide the metabolism with constant stimulation, which consequently speeds it up and forces the body to work much harder all the time. This work causes weight loss. And indeed, doing this could give someone some success, and fast. It makes sense.

This is the opposite approach that sumo wrestlers take to their diet, in which they try to gain as much weight as possible. Check out an interesting article Here.

I would guess that most Americans are on the Sumo Wrestler diet, especially the aspect of eating late at night. I personally used to consume one or two huge meals every night, one immediately before going to bed. However while it was at the expense of my energy levels next day (though I didn't realize it at the time), I never gained any weight from it. My metabolism was too high.

I was like many youths, the ones who can frequently be seen eating huge meals many times a day, maybe eight times or more. And it isn't even all good food, a lot of it is junk. I used to eat 1800 to 2500 calories of Tasty Kakes every day during lunch, and then later in the day go run six miles during cross country practice. People like this are the envy of today's society, the ones who can eat all they want and not gain any weight from it. There are countless obese people who would love to have this problem. Despite my athletic build, I probably ate more than many obese people.

However, despite the fact that this trait is praised because of its enabling of guiltless, though costly, gluttony, striving for or keeping a high metabolism is absolutely not good. And I care about you so I will tell you why.

Imagine your body is a car. Purposefully speeding up your metabolism is like placing a pile of bricks on the gas pedal and letting your car go speeding away. The engine of your car will wear out very quickly, and likewise your body will out wear if you make it work too hard.

You see, a "high metabolism" isn't a magical black hole in your body that makes you fit and trim. It is your body working too hard. And while it might be convenient and without immediate consequence at first, eventually it will catch up with you.

Whether you are a person trying to lose weight, or someone who enjoys being able to eat whatever they want and remain skinny, or someone who is underweight - whoever you are, this applies to you.

The sumo wrestlers are actually on the right track - low metabolism is key. However, they abuse it for purposes of gaining enourmous amounts of weight.

The healthiest long-term goal is to achieve a very low metabolism. Think about it - which is better for your heart, having a high or low blood pressure? We do not want our body to have to work hard. We want to make it as easy as possible for our body do carry out all of its functions.

There are mainly two problems in regard to this topic. The first occurs when people achieve, or are simply born with, a low metabolism, but then eat a very high number of calories every day. That is to say, they overeat. The consequense to this is weight gain and lack of energy. Long term, it could take some years off your life span and make the aging process much more extreme then it has to be. The second problem is equally damaging, though it isn't as visually obvious. It is when a person has a very high metabolism and overeats. They are still overeating, their body is just working it off. In many ways, an obese person and an underweight person have exactly the same problem.

There is no way to get around it - in order to achieve the best health, you will have to eat in moderation. And moderate portions are nothing like we often see today, let me tell you. It might be something that each person must learn for himself, but I think we can all agree that as a society we eat too much, and without stating an exact amount, most of us would do very well to eat a good deal less overall, and much much less processed junk foods.

It doesn't matter if you are an athlete running marathons or a sedentary couch potato. The ultimate goal is to have a very low metabolism and eat very little (or rather, the goal is to get your body to a place where it requires very little and then abstain from overeating). The paths for each of us to get there will certainly be different, however we must all realize what is best and make sure that the path we choose ends up taking us as close to that as possible.

Like I said, I used to eat a ton of food every day. A ton. During high school I would eat two lunches every day (not including the Tastykakes from the vending machine). I would actually be late to class from eating so much. But I was very athletic and in great shape. At 6 feet tall, I weighed about 160 pounds. Then during college I got into the weight lifting thing, and gained about 15 pounds of muscle. During this time I still had an outrageously high metabolism and ate many times a day. At year two of college I converted my diet to raw vegan. Over the course of about six months I lost about twenty pounds. That's a drop from 175 to 155. Looking back I can guess that this was because I was eating more easily digestible food but still had a high metabolism, so everything that I ate was quickly burned up. At first I didn't even lower calories that much, if at all. However, now it has been a year and my weight is back up to 170. I eat two to three meals a day, which aren't exactly small but are much smaller than they used to be. And they are raw foods, so its much MUCH easier to digest.

Why did I gain the weight back? Though I am not a professional, my insight tells me that my metabolism has slowed way down. Indeed, I actually have a little stomach fat again, and from eating mostly fruit only! So for a while I had to act on faith, but now my body seems to be finishing its chemical adjustment to the new diet - what I believed and hoped would happen finally has.

This serves merely as an example. With this article I do not wish push the raw vegan diet exactly, however it is important for us to realize three things about diet:

1) Moderation is always necessary. No diet can be healthy long-term if it advocates gluttony (eating whatever you want, whenever you want, however much you want). You cannot avoid it, some self-discipline will be involved. But let me assure you that developing this discipline will be much more rewarding and meaningful in the end, and it won't be hard forever.

2) The best diet will allow you to develop a slow metabolism and thrive on very little food. It might be a long process for you to discover what this diet is. I have discovered it to be raw foods, but that is the ultimate of diets. One can still achieve great success from a diet on a different place on the transitional scale. It all depends on how good you want to feel and what your personal views and experiences tell you.

3) The healthiest methods to improve one's physical condition take time and faith. It took me a whole year to readjust and recover from the miserable way I used to eat, and even now I don't think I'm fully adjusted. There might be "quick fixes", but if your goal is long term health and happiness, then no quick fix will be as satisfying and successful as a meaningful lifestyle change based on temperance and openness to the truth.


  1. I can’t afford to lose weight, I think. 5'6", 100 lbs or so. Baaaad.

  2. That's the thing though - if you are underweight then it might be caused by an overactive metabolism. In that case, switching to a healther diet (abstaining from toxic foods) might actually slow down your metabolism, heal your ability to assimilate nutrients, and cause you go gain weight to a "normal" level.