Is metabolism to blame?

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Many people claim they cannot lose weight because of a slow metabolism. Others argue they cannot gain weight due to a fast metabolism. But does metabolism really have anything to do with a person’s ability to lose or gain weight?

Metabolism is the process by which the body converts food and drink into energy. Even at rest, the body needs energy for functions such as breathing, circulating blood, and repairing cells. The number of calories used for these basic functions is known as basal metabolic rate.

Several factors determine a person’s basal metabolic rate. These include body size and composition, gender, and age. People who weigh more are more likely to have a faster metabolic rate—not a slower one—because a portion of excess weight is muscle tissue.

Men traditionally have less body fat and more muscle mass than women, and burn more calories. Additionally, muscle mass decreases with age, which slows down the rate at which a person burns calories.

Contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain, the Mayo Clinic states.

While people have minimal control over the speed of their basal metabolism, they can control how many calories they burn through their level of physical activity. The more active a person is, the more calories he burns. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states, some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active than others.

There is no easy way to lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, the foundation for weight loss continues to be based on physical activity and diet. Simply put, take in fewer calories than you burn to lose weight.