Blaming Your Slow Metabolism for Weight Gain? Here’s the Real Reason You Can’t Lose Fat

Juice cleanses come and go, but blaming metabolism for weight gain has been around for years. What if the real reason you can’t shake the weight is actually something you can fix — and not genetically determined?

The real reasons you can’t drop pounds are far less elusive than the tricky old metabolism. There are the seven reasons you’re struggling with weight, including the No. 1 thing you should pay attention to (page 7).

7. It isn’t just your metabolism

woman adjusting a scale

Metabolism is only part of the whole story. | Tetmc/iStock/Getty Images

The concept that metabolism is key to weight is part truth, part myth. While metabolism plays a role in how quickly you can drop the weight, genetics don’t change as quickly as we’re able to gain weight. Environmental factors — like those we’ll discuss in the upcoming pages — are far more important focuses to shake the fat.

According to Mayo Clinic, your metabolic speed influences how much energy you need but is rarely the cause of weight gain. However, it plays a role in how you manage one of the things that really can determine your weight gain (No. 1).

NextAge may be just a number, but it still affects your weight loss.

6. Age is a factor

Senior Couple with Water Bottles

As you age, your body will change. | Feverpitched/iStock/Getty Images

Yes, your metabolism may slow down with age. But more so, you are naturally less active — sitting in an office as opposed to playing on a team — and your body takes notice. “As you get older, you don’t need as many calories. Part of that is a little bit slower metabolism, but part of it is you’re not rushing around as much,” Donna Weihofen, R.D., M.S., told Everyday Health.

Weight loss becomes harder as you age for a multitude of reasons. Aging muscles, hormonal change, physical changes, and susceptibility to illness can all affect how you lose weight.

Next: Part of it is just genetics.

5. Your gender plays a role

senior man in sportswear kneeling alone in a gym

Men usually lose weight faster than women. | UberImages/iStock/Getty Images

Most men are able to drop weight faster than women — it’s a simple fact of nature. Men have more fat-burning muscle than women do as well as a fat distribution tendency that appears thinner. “Testosterone is a powerful hormone,” Chris Jordan, M.S., C.S.C.S. said, “and men have approximately 10 times more of it … Testosterone increases protein synthesis and lean body mass, which will then increase your resting metabolic rate. Meaning, guys will be burning more calories all day.”

However, there are still ways to even the playing field. Jordan recommends trying resistance training to build up your fat-burning muscle.

Next: Shut-eye means more than you know

4. Your sleep schedule is a mess

Young girl tired and lying on the bed

If you aren’t sleeping, your diet will probably suffer. | Tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images

A shotty sleep schedule acts as the catalyst in the weight gain chain reaction. If you’re lacking sleep you’ll be more likely to reach for sugary food, highly-caffeinated drinks, and skip your daily workout.

A University of Chicago study found that the sleep-deprived participants chose to eat foods with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours. When you’re lacking sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, which is what signals your brain that it’s time to eat. Leptin, which signals your brain when to stop eating, plummets when you’re sleep-deprived.

Next: Don’t make this mistake

3. You’re relying solely on exercise

happy people doing lunge exercise in gym

Focus less on the gym and more on staying active. | iStock.com/dolgachov

Proper exercise is a great way to build muscle, burn calories, and keep your body fit and healthy. However, it’s not the most crucial component of weight loss (like most think). Intense caloric burn is all good and well, but even engaging in a more active daily routine can make a difference.

Don’t stress if you can only fit in a 30-minute workout. It turns out that high-intensity interval workouts and recovery days are excellent for fat loss.

Next: This habit can deter your weight loss goals.

2. You’re drinking too much or too often

four different alcoholic drinks in glasses

Alcohol plays a huge factor in weight loss. | iStock/Getty Images

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram — second to fat, which contains 9 per gram — but it isn’t just alcohol’s calorie count that derails your weight loss. Most people drink alcohol combined with sugary juices and sodas. Drinking also lower your inhibitions — making you way more likely to indulge in greasy foods or sugary baked goods while drunk.

“Research has uncovered that alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly,” said Pamela M. Peeke, M.D. “That’s why you never hear about ‘beer hips,’ you hear about a ‘beer belly.'”

Next: The number one reason you can’t shed the pounds.

1. You discount how much diet matters

Healthy Lifestyle Diet

Your diet has a huge effect on weight loss. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

You’ve heard it before and we’re here to tell you again: 80% of weight loss is diet, and about 20% is exercise. “You can lose weight without exercise, but you cannot lose weight if your nutrition counteracts your energy expenditure through exercise,”Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S. said.

So while your metabolism may play a role in how quickly you shed the pounds, your best bet is to focus on your diet while supplementing with exercise. Check out our list of the best fat-burning foods to get started.

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