The slow metabolism myth

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By Dr. David Gutman, Cleveland Nutrition

It’s the number one excuse people give for being overweight: “I have a slow metabolism.”And it’s a lie.

There are many reasons why people gain excess weight, but unless you have an underactive thyroid that you are refusing to treat, having a slow metabolism isn’t one of them.

In fact, many people are surprised to learn that the truth is the exact opposite. When you actually measure people’s metabolic rates, studies consistently and predictably find that, in general, the more you weigh, the higher your metabolic rate.

Think about it. Every cell in your body is alive and requires energy to survive, including fat cells. So the larger you are, the more calories you burn every day to sustain your larger body.

That’s why obese individuals who go on a diet lose weight more quickly than people only mildly overweight. That’s also the reason why weight loss slows down and may even plateau after a while. As you lose weight, your metabolic rate naturally slows down as well, as it should.

Interestingly, many studies show that having a slower metabolic rate is strongly associated with longevity. Like any machine, our bodies operate best when running at low-normal speed, but may wear out more quickly if constantly running on overdrive.

So, the trick is to figure out how to lower your metabolic rate while also achieving a normal weight, and the way to do that is by improving the quality of the food you eat, not by reducing the quantity.

The American diet is an obesity-causing diet. It is calorically dense and promotes fat storage. Your metabolism is not the problem. The food you’re metabolizing is.

Call me to schedule a free consultation. I am a lifestyle medicine physician who prescribes plant-based nutrition to help my patients lose weight and reverse chronic diseases. More plants, fewer medications.

To reach Cleveland Nutrition, call 216-328-8086. There are two office locations: 25200 Chagrin Blvd, Suite 109, in Beachwood; and 2660 W. Market Street, Suite 250, in Fairlawn. To learn more, visit