What role does metabolism actually play in weight loss?

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  • sheldonklein
    sheldonklein Posts: 854 Member
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    I assume OP's question translates as, is there a significant variance in the BMRs of people with comparable statistics (gender, weight and height). I understand there is minor variance except for a handful of outliers, but I stand ready to be persuaded otherwise.
  • vismal
    vismal Posts: 2,463 Member
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    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.

    While I don't have an issue with the rest of your post, somatotypes have been widely debunked.
    Agree. There is no science to support somatotypes.

    To answer the OP. Metabolism varies from person to person. There is a normal range that most people fall in to. The vast majority of people who claim they have weight issues due to slow metabolism simply eat to much. The vast majority of "hard gainers" who claim they cannot gain weight due to metabolism simply don't eat enough. Regardless of how much they claim to eat or not eat, unless you observe them 24 hours a day, what they say is meaningless. People lie, they miscalculate, they over and under estimate. There are several studies to prove that people are notoriously bad at calorie counting and estimating the calories found in meals. While it's true that those who fall to the low or high end of normal may have a slightly more challenging weight loss/gain experience, they are not so far from the average that their calorie goal should be unreasonably low or high. There are also those that fall outside of a normal range. They are outliers. While they do occur, they are the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of people claiming that slow or fast metabolism is the reason their goals are alluding them are making excuses, and possibly convincing themselves that their failure is out of their control. This is an extremely common defense mechanism. It should also be noted that those who fall a fair margin beyond normal deviation probably have some medical condition(s) causing their extreme deviation. Many of the conditions that can cause this are treatable. These people probably make up less then 1% of the population.
  • lindsey1979
    lindsey1979 Posts: 2,395 Member
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    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.

    While I don't have an issue with the rest of your post, somatotypes have been widely debunked.

    Yes and no. Don't you think at the very least they demonstrate the spectrum of genetic predisposition -- that there are some people who are fairly naturally thin and that comes rather easily to them and there are other where gain (muscle and fat) comes fairly easy? I wouldn't get into the rest of the theory, but I think as far as that goes, it's true.

  • vismal
    vismal Posts: 2,463 Member
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    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.

    While I don't have an issue with the rest of your post, somatotypes have been widely debunked.

    Yes and no. Don't you think at the very least they demonstrate the spectrum of genetic predisposition -- that there are some people who are fairly naturally thin and that comes rather easily to them and there are other where gain (muscle and fat) comes fairly easy? I wouldn't get into the rest of the theory, but I think as far as that goes, it's true.
    I don't really. In my opinion 90% of "ectomorphs" simply eat less then they think, 90% of "endomorphs" eat more than they think, and the vast majority of "mesomorphs" eat an appropriate amount of calories and probably regularly work out. Take myself for example. Look at me 4 years ago and my body SCREAMS endomorph. Almost all the classic traits. Look at me now and people who didn't know me from before would claim I was a mesomorph. There is just no science to support it. Sure different people naturally burn more/less calories per day, but the vast majority fall into the "normal" range.

  • Alluminati
    Alluminati Posts: 6,208 Member
    edited September 2015
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    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.
    Yeah. I thought somatotypes weren't a thing.
  • queenliz99
    queenliz99 Posts: 15,317 Member
    edited September 2015
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    Alluminati wrote: »
    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.

    Yeah. I thought somatotypes weren't a thing.

    Yea confusing
  • Kalikel
    Kalikel Posts: 9,626 Member
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    Metabolism is just a concept, not a single thing. It's the end result of everything built up and broken down.

    If your body burns through calories faster or slower than a typical body, you'll be thinner or fatter than a typical person (similar - age, height, etc.) who eats the same amount.

    Thyroid hormone is one thing that most people have heard of that has a big effect on one's metabolism. Hyperthyroid people are often very skinny and hypothyroid people are frequently fat. You could have two people of the same height, weight, age, race, etc. and they could eat the same amount of calories and one would end up losing while the other gained. Theoretically, anyway.

    Lots of things affect how your body works.

    You look young. If you're really interested in it and want to learn about it, you should take some classes. If you enjoy learning this stuff, you might love those classes! :)
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,398 MFP Moderator
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    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.

    While I don't have an issue with the rest of your post, somatotypes have been widely debunked.

    Yes and no. Don't you think at the very least they demonstrate the spectrum of genetic predisposition -- that there are some people who are fairly naturally thin and that comes rather easily to them and there are other where gain (muscle and fat) comes fairly easy? I wouldn't get into the rest of the theory, but I think as far as that goes, it's true.

    For a large part people arent naturally thin, just like people are naturally fat. For a large part those who are more thin tend to develop or have learned good eating habits and eat the right types of food to enable that. On top of that, some people naturally are more active than others.

    OP, @vismal gave a lot of solid information. I would like to add the your bmr tends to account for roughly 75% of the calories you burn. Outside of bmr/rmr there is thermal effect of food (calories burn through digestion), thermal effect of activities (calories burned through exercise), and non exercise adaptive thermogenesis (calories burned from daily activity).

    Ultimately people try to put a lot of stake in metabolism but what they should concentrate on more is Total Daily Energy Expenditure as this is your maintenance point. This is the point you either eat at, form a deficit or a surplus based on your goals. You can find it by tracking calories for 4+ weeks.
  • sashayoung72
    sashayoung72 Posts: 441 Member
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    I always said I've got a slow metabolism but I lost an average of 2 lbs of week for 6 months, I think the people that I thought had fast metabolisms basically are more active. It's kinda like the old big boned thing that doesn't exist.
  • pinkiemarie252
    pinkiemarie252 Posts: 222 Member
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    From personal experience I will say that having a higher metabolism definitely helps me keep weight off-- so in other words when I'm lifting weight and keeping up my muscle mass, I burn a lot more calories which helps me stay thin. When I slack off and lose muscle mass, I notice that I burn fewer calories and it's easier to gain weight.
  • stevencloser
    stevencloser Posts: 8,911 Member
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    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11869-012-0193-4
    Analyzed many studies and the highest TDEE they found out of 6000 people was 13.5 MJ (3200 Calories) in a man and 10.4 MJ (2500 Calories) for a woman, far from what "a hardgainer" would claim they're eating.
  • stevencloser
    stevencloser Posts: 8,911 Member
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    vismal wrote: »
    I think a lot of this comes down to genetics and medical issues (if any are present). The classic ectomoph, mesomorph and endomorph people. As strong_curves talked about, there certainly are people that have a MUCH easier time maintaining a healthy weight (naturally thin folks) and those that have MUCH easier time building muscle (usually also gaining fat). It's a spectrum. On the extremes you see the elite athletes -- whether it's a marathon runner on one side or powerlifters on the other. They no doubt are genetic freaks -- just like any elite athlete. That's not to say they don't work hard -- of course, they do -- but they have certain genetics that allow them to reach that level. Not everyone could work as hard and get those same results -- it's just not how the world works.

    So, it's all about being the best YOU. Being the best version of your genetic potential. So you may struggle more with weight loss/management or you may struggle more with gaining weight/muscle. Depending on your issues, certain strategies may work better or worse for you --- whether that's adjusting macros (carbs especially), using an intermittent fasting regime like 16:8 or 5:2, calorie cycling, etc. Deficits work for those without medical issues, but how you create that deficit may yield dramatically different results depending on your individual circumstances. A lot of it is trial and error figuring out what works best for you. But, yes, there are undoubtedly differences between people.

    While I don't have an issue with the rest of your post, somatotypes have been widely debunked.

    Yes and no. Don't you think at the very least they demonstrate the spectrum of genetic predisposition -- that there are some people who are fairly naturally thin and that comes rather easily to them and there are other where gain (muscle and fat) comes fairly easy? I wouldn't get into the rest of the theory, but I think as far as that goes, it's true.
    I don't really. In my opinion 90% of "ectomorphs" simply eat less then they think, 90% of "endomorphs" eat more than they think, and the vast majority of "mesomorphs" eat an appropriate amount of calories and probably regularly work out. Take myself for example. Look at me 4 years ago and my body SCREAMS endomorph. Almost all the classic traits. Look at me now and people who didn't know me from before would claim I was a mesomorph. There is just no science to support it. Sure different people naturally burn more/less calories per day, but the vast majority fall into the "normal" range.

    I had the same experience. It's amazing how much longer your torso and limbs look when you're suddenly half as wide as before.
  • Pawsforme
    Pawsforme Posts: 645 Member
    edited September 2015
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    I know one lady who apparently really is an outlier. She's in her early 50's, has been naturally thin her entire life and admits to eating quite a lot. She eats more than her much bigger husband (and he confirms that). But IMO what really confirms her status as an outlier is that she's had several issues with medications over the years--both oral medicines and general anesthesia--that her doctors attribute to a higher than normal metabolism.
  • _Terrapin_
    _Terrapin_ Posts: 4,301 Member
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    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11869-012-0193-4
    Analyzed many studies and the highest TDEE they found out of 6000 people was 13.5 MJ (3200 Calories) in a man and 10.4 MJ (2500 Calories) for a woman, far from what "a hardgainer" would claim they're eating.

    You mean you don't go to a gym, hang out with the hard gainers to 'know' what they eat, make sure they aren't doing steroids? Yeah, me either. I have time for my own workouts. I typically am not approaching people at the gym and seeking their dietary items and their individual desires for artificial enhancement.
  • lindsey1979
    lindsey1979 Posts: 2,395 Member
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    Well, I guess one of the differentiations I take into account are what drives people to eat. For example I have two twin nieces -- they're growing up in the same environment and they have vastly different body types. Most people think that they're 2 years apart rather than the exact same age. One is probably in the 80+ percentile for weight and one is probably in the lower 20+ weight. And you started seeing significant differences around age 1.

    Undoubtedly the bigger one eats more than the little one. But why? What has driven that? They have the exact same parents, grow up in the same household, eating the same things (though obviously one has always eaten more)?

    There is at least one theory out there that it has to do with absorption of nutrients in food and/or the combination of so much of our food not being as nutrient dense as it used to be (at least in comparison to its caloric density). So, some eat more to get more nutrients because their body isn't absorbing/digesting them as effectively and along comes the extra calories. I don't know if there is any truth behind it, but definitely interesting to think about.

    I guess I've just seen too many people like my twin nieces in the world to think it is as seeming simple as vismal posits. Yes, the heavier people are eating more -- but why? What is going on to shift to so much on an overall population level? The rates of obesity now are greatly higher than they were 50 years ago but there hasn't been that much change in lifestyles and activity in 50 years. Yes, perhaps some, but not really that much. We have a heck of a LOT more fat kids now than we did even 20-30 years ago. My guess is something is going on in our food chain that is significantly shift this. I know there has been a significant increase in sugar consumption, but it's hard to believe it's just that.
  • queenliz99
    queenliz99 Posts: 15,317 Member
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    Well, I guess one of the differentiations I take into account are what drives people to eat. For example I have two twin nieces -- they're growing up in the same environment and they have vastly different body types. Most people think that they're 2 years apart rather than the exact same age. One is probably in the 80+ percentile for weight and one is probably in the lower 20+ weight. And you started seeing significant differences around age 1.

    Undoubtedly the bigger one eats more than the little one. But why? What has driven that? They have the exact same parents, grow up in the same household, eating the same things (though obviously one has always eaten more)?

    There is at least one theory out there that it has to do with absorption of nutrients in food and/or the combination of so much of our food not being as nutrient dense as it used to be (at least in comparison to its caloric density). So, some eat more to get more nutrients because their body isn't absorbing/digesting them as effectively and along comes the extra calories. I don't know if there is any truth behind it, but definitely interesting to think about.

    I guess I've just seen too many people like my twin nieces in the world to think it is as seeming simple as vismal posits. Yes, the heavier people are eating more -- but why? What is going on to shift to so much on an overall population level? The rates of obesity now are greatly higher than they were 50 years ago but there hasn't been that much change in lifestyles and activity in 50 years. Yes, perhaps some, but not really that much. We have a heck of a LOT more fat kids now than we did even 20-30 years ago. My guess is something is going on in our food chain that is significantly shift this. I know there has been a significant increase in sugar consumption, but it's hard to believe it's just that.

    Maybe they are not moving as much.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,608 Member
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    For those who say metabolism plays no part, you are wrong, it absolutely plays every part of the weight loss process, it is literally the reason you gain or lose weight.
    Well metabolism is a process. It ISN'T the main reason people gain or lose weight since body function metabolically is pretty consistent if essentials are met. CALORIE CONSUMPTION dictates weight gain/loss/maintenance.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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  • 3dogsrunning
    3dogsrunning Posts: 27,167 Member
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    Well, I guess one of the differentiations I take into account are what drives people to eat. For example I have two twin nieces -- they're growing up in the same environment and they have vastly different body types. Most people think that they're 2 years apart rather than the exact same age. One is probably in the 80+ percentile for weight and one is probably in the lower 20+ weight. And you started seeing significant differences around age 1.

    Undoubtedly the bigger one eats more than the little one. But why? What has driven that? They have the exact same parents, grow up in the same household, eating the same things (though obviously one has always eaten more)?

    There is at least one theory out there that it has to do with absorption of nutrients in food and/or the combination of so much of our food not being as nutrient dense as it used to be (at least in comparison to its caloric density). So, some eat more to get more nutrients because their body isn't absorbing/digesting them as effectively and along comes the extra calories. I don't know if there is any truth behind it, but definitely interesting to think about.

    I guess I've just seen too many people like my twin nieces in the world to think it is as seeming simple as vismal posits. Yes, the heavier people are eating more -- but why? What is going on to shift to so much on an overall population level? The rates of obesity now are greatly higher than they were 50 years ago but there hasn't been that much change in lifestyles and activity in 50 years. Yes, perhaps some, but not really that much. We have a heck of a LOT more fat kids now than we did even 20-30 years ago. My guess is something is going on in our food chain that is significantly shift this. I know there has been a significant increase in sugar consumption, but it's hard to believe it's just that.

    Not really that much difference in activity?
    I would strongly disagree.