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  1. #1
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Is low metabolism a myth?

    The other day I was working on my combine with one of my skinny friends. He's 5-10 150 lbs. I've always envied his "high metabolism" as he can eat as much or more than I.

    The job requires climbing 14' up and then 7' back down into the grain hopper. So we get in the hopper and while I'm figuring out what tools we need and how to do the job with the least amount of climbing, he's already went and got the first tool. So this goes on and on. Me trying to be efficient and planning the work out. He just reacting to whatever is needed right then.

    We finish the job and I buy him lunch. I'm watching him eat whatever he wants, while I'm forced to eat my 500 C snack. I'll admit feeling sorry for myself for having such a "low metabolism".

    Yesterday, I was confronted with another repair requiring climbing and many steps to complete. As I was planning the work out, it occurred to me that maybe I'm just too efficient for my own good. I took my friend's approach and just did each step as it presented itself. I got the work done. I got a good sweat going while doing it. I felt great afterward. It probably didn't take me any longer to accomplish. I was blessed with a "high metabolism".

    So to sum up. I'm going to try to be more inefficient in everyday tasks. I'm going to have a "high metabolism".

  2. #2
    The Fat Guy In The Back Tundra_Man's Avatar
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    Might be some of both. Obviously, the more physical activity you do the more calories you burn. However it's actually depressing when you do the math and discover how few calories are actually expended, especially when it's something you do frequently and the body has learned how to become efficient. Most of us greatly over-estimate how many calories we burn.

    I'm a clyde runner. I'll go out in the morning and run five miles. Then I go to work and if somebody brings bagels I can undo my efforts by eating just one.
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  3. #3
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    I have skinny co-workers who don't do any sort of physical activity and can eat whatever they want. (I work in an office.) So clearly it isn't always just the simple equation of calories in/calories out that we've always been told.
    If I ate the way my cubicle mate eats, I'd weigh 300 pounds.

  4. #4
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Hence the recent trend toward commercial outfits that offer to measure an individual's basal metabolic rate. We have a chain of weight-loss centers that have opened around Indy lately that measure this for you, and help you with dietary choices based on that and your activity level. I don't know how they measure it, so I can't say if it's based on sound or pseudo-science. But it's a path that seems to be gaining popularity.
    Craig in Indy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodabike View Post
    I have skinny co-workers who don't do any sort of physical activity and can eat whatever they want. (I work in an office.) So clearly it isn't always just the simple equation of calories in/calories out that we've always been told.
    But it is. His "out" (burning calories) just happens at a higher rate without any extraordinary physical activity. He likely has a high basal metabolism.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    So to sum up. I'm going to try to be more inefficient in everyday tasks. I'm going to have a "high metabolism".



    So you are not ridding your bike? Or trying to ride it inefficient every day?

    Hmmmm... strange way to do it. I hope it works for you
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodabike View Post
    I have skinny co-workers who don't do any sort of physical activity and can eat whatever they want. (I work in an office.) So clearly it isn't always just the simple equation of calories in/calories out that we've always been told.
    If I ate the way my cubicle mate eats, I'd weigh 300 pounds.
    It is simple calories in - calories burned = net weight gain.

    His Basal Metabolic rate happens to be higher than yours, is all. And, you have no idea what he/she does outside of work. He might be one of those people that runs 15 miles in the morning, and another 15 at night.

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    Hence the recent trend toward commercial outfits that offer to measure an individual's basal metabolic rate. We have a chain of weight-loss centers that have opened around Indy lately that measure this for you, and help you with dietary choices based on that and your activity level. I don't know how they measure it, so I can't say if it's based on sound or pseudo-science. But it's a path that seems to be gaining popularity.
    Depends on their methodology. There are several ways of accurately estimating BMR, but there are some rather bunk ways of doing it as well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_m...ate#Physiology

    So, it's easily calculable using body temperature, plus a couple of other factors (Body mass, etc). It boils down to (Pardon the pun) the amount of energy to raise a cubic centimeter of water by 1 degree Celsius.

  8. #8
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
    So to sum up. I'm going to try to be more inefficient in everyday tasks. I'm going to have a "high metabolism".



    So you are not ridding your bike? Or trying to ride it inefficient every day?

    Hmmmm... strange way to do it. I hope it works for you
    I'm not planning on changing my bicycling/treadmill/Pilates/resistance training program. What I'm going to try to do is quit planning how to do things with the least effort. I'll just be reactive. See---Do. Not See---Plan---Do. Make many trips instead of one. I'm not talking about running around town making many trips in my car. I'm saying it's OK to take single item down to the basement. I don't have to See an item that needs to be in the basement, Plan how many other items need to be down there, gather all the items and make one trip. Be inefficent in common tasks.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    My brother has always been able to eat all he wants and whatever he wants and has always been thin. Not me. My two sons are opposite this way as well. Older son has to watch his diet and deliberately exercise to keep his weight in check. Younger son eats what he wants when he wants and is less active than his brother yet is very thin. Being inefficient will help but I don't think it will magically transform you into a calorie-burning machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodabike View Post
    I have skinny co-workers who don't do any sort of physical activity and can eat whatever they want. (I work in an office.) So clearly it isn't always just the simple equation of calories in/calories out that we've always been told.
    If I ate the way my cubicle mate eats, I'd weigh 300 pounds.
    Yes, it is always the simple equation of calories in/calories out. Physics demands it. The problem is that people are really poor at measuring both. And as the OP points out, different people can do things at different degrees of efficiency.

    But people who want to deny the essential connection between what they put in and what they put out are simply deluding themselves.

    KeS

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    I was told by my doctor that fat people do NOT under any circumstances have a lower metabolism than skinny people. In fact, because we are fat, our bodies naturally burn far more calories which means we have a higher metabolism.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
    Might be some of both. Obviously, the more physical activity you do the more calories you burn. However it's actually depressing when you do the math and discover how few calories are actually expended, especially when it's something you do frequently and the body has learned how to become efficient. Most of us greatly over-estimate how many calories we burn.
    Indeed. I started cycling to work 1-2 days a week 13 weeks ago. I figured this was a brilliant way to fit more exercise into my schedule and the pounds should shed right off doing this. It was hard grueling work, 19 miles each way, nearly 40 miles a day. This morning I cycled into work and I realised that not only am I going far faster than I was when I started, but my heart rate is pathetically low compared to what it used to be, I'm pulling up hills a whole 7 gears higher than I used to be able to do them, and when I get to work... nothing on my body aches anymore.

    I don't even feel like I worked out at this point in time anymore. My body cannot possibly be burning as many calories as it used to when I did this. Now the only time I ever feel exhausted is when I do rides above 50 miles. This sucks. Good thing skiing season is coming; at least I can switch things up more easily when that begins.

  13. #13
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin_stevens View Post
    Yes, it is always the simple equation of calories in/calories out. Physics demands it. The problem is that people are really poor at measuring both. And as the OP points out, different people can do things at different degrees of efficiency.

    But people who want to deny the essential connection between what they put in and what they put out are simply deluding themselves.

    KeS
    There very well may be differences, but they are slight.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    I was told by my doctor that fat people do NOT under any circumstances have a lower metabolism than skinny people. In fact, because we are fat, our bodies naturally burn far more calories which means we have a higher metabolism.
    Whatever it is from the time I was a kid until I got into my late thirties I could eat as much of whatever I wanted and could barely gain a pound, I started gaining some weight in my late thirties and early forties but still didn't change my habits.

    I'm 6'6" and peaked at 242 pounds, I still eat pretty much whatever I want but I started biking and I'm down to 209 pounds now which is about where I was at the age of 19.
    My name is Steve and I don't have a bent fork anymore :)

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  15. #15
    Senior Member McCallum's Avatar
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    I wonder speaking of efficientence; if as fat people are body's are more efficient at useing tht Kcals we give it than skinny people. To put it another way; our body's use less of the Kcals we eat to do the same work and then store the leftovers as fat. So I guess I do wonder if the own test the BMR is a viable idea. If I ate the 2301 Kcals that my 177 lbs should burn at 13 Kcals/pound I would gain. I am currently eating about 1750 and maintaining that weight. So . . ?

    I would suggest starting with 13-15 Kcals/pound and cut or add to drop pounds as fast or slow as you want!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Chaco's Avatar
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    It always amusing to me how people can look at car engines and realize that the way car engines "metabolize" gasoline is not a simple equation. The mileage you get depends on the age of the car, the timing of the valves, the octane content of the gasoline, and dozens of other factors.

    Yet when it comes to the human body, which is thousands of times more complex than a car engine, metabolism is reduced to the simplistic equation of "calories in, calories out".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaco View Post
    It always amusing to me how people can look at car engines and realize that the way car engines "metabolize" gasoline is not a simple equation. The mileage you get depends on the age of the car, the timing of the valves, the octane content of the gasoline, and dozens of other factors.

    Yet when it comes to the human body, which is thousands of times more complex than a car engine, metabolism is reduced to the simplistic equation of "calories in, calories out".
    No matter how amusing you may think it is, your straw man violates the laws of conservation of energy.

    If you ingest more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Period. It flat out doesn't matter what's inside - if the energy in is more than the energy out, it MUST go somewhere.

    All the wishful thinking in the universe can't change that.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    No matter how amusing you may think it is, your straw man violates the laws of conservation of energy.

    If you ingest more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Period. It flat out doesn't matter what's inside - if the energy in is more than the energy out, it MUST go somewhere.

    All the wishful thinking in the universe can't change that.
    Mostly correct, but it's slightly more nuanced than that. Protein calories have a significantly different effect on your body than carbohydrate calories. If you eat the same amount of energy of proteins you will be better off than if you ate the carbs. Your body will have more muscle and you will burn more energy whilst resting. This is where the difficulty comes in because there's no easy way to measure that energy expenditure.

  19. #19
    Senior Member redvespablur's Avatar
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    Jethro, I think that is a valid observation - your co-worker is burning more calories by being inefficient and you probably could move your BMR up similarly by following his example.

    On a tangent I have been thinking of the "problem" of efficiency with my riding. Riding for racers and skinnies seem to be all about conservation of energy while I want to lose weight must fight the urge to be efficient and "go for it".

  20. #20
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    I was told by my doctor that fat people do NOT under any circumstances have a lower metabolism than skinny people. In fact, because we are fat, our bodies naturally burn far more calories which means we have a higher metabolism.
    Yup. People who weigh more burn more calories, even when at rest.

    But, it isn't just how much you weigh, it is your percentage of fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat.

    Most of the calories you burn are to maintain basic bodily functions and processing what you eat, for most maybe 70 to 80 percent. The rest will be burned in activity. Of course, athletes burn more in activity than non-athletes.

    It is rare to gain weight because of a metabolism issue.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 09-28-11 at 07:57 PM.

  21. #21
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redvespablur View Post
    Jethro, I think that is a valid observation - your co-worker is burning more calories by being inefficient and you probably could move your BMR up similarly by following his example.
    No, this isn't right. He has a higher base metabolic rate and is more energetic - possibly expending more energy in his normal activities but not necessarily inefficiently. It does take more calories to maintain the greater bulk, but I think the doctor is wrong if he said it means that large people have a higher metabolic rate.

  22. #22
    Neil_B
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    An interesting book is The Fat of the Land by Michael Fumento. The author discusses how the idea of different metabolic rates is used as an excuse/promotion of obesity. I don't have the book at hand, but if I remember correctly he quotes a study that the press made a fuss about showing a slower metabolic rate for black women. Fumento showed 8 minutes of vigorous walking a day was enough to make up the difference in calories burned. (If someone has the book, can you double check me, please?)

    As I posted above, there probably are differences, but too much is made of them.

  23. #23
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Not getting scientific here - I know that as I increased my efforts in workouts, I burned more calories. That much is obvious, right? But I also noticed that once this became a steady lifestyle for me, my appetite got more intense and I have been able to eat more and still maintain weight. At my heaviest, I never wanted breakfast. I just wasn't hungry. Now I eat 4-5 times a day. And I'm talking EAT - not a 100-200 calorie snack, but more like a very large bowl of cereal (2.5-3 servings) for breakfast, 2-3 servings of fruit, 2 sandwiches and maybe some ramen for lunch, 2 more servings of fruit, and dinner is generally a large protein (ie - steak, pork chops, chicken breast) with pasta, pierogi, vegetables, etc. I may even have another bowl of cereal later on if I'm up late. I haven't kept track of the numbers in some time, but it's probably pretty close to what I was eating when I was over 400 pounds.

    Long story short, (too late, I know), I believe my previously slow metabolism has been readjusted to burn better, if you will.
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

  24. #24
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    This morning is the beginning of day three of the new inefficient Jethro. Something is different. I slept better than I have in quite some time. I feel like I've already done my morning workout. This is far from what I expected. I expected to be sore and stiff. I feel energetic. It usually takes me awhile to get going in the morning. I'm ready to go right now.If this is a placebo effect, so be it. I like it. That's all that matters.

  25. #25
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayre Kulp View Post
    Not getting scientific here - I know that as I increased my efforts in workouts, I burned more calories. That much is obvious, right? But I also noticed that once this became a steady lifestyle for me, my appetite got more intense and I have been able to eat more and still maintain weight. At my heaviest, I never wanted breakfast. I just wasn't hungry. Now I eat 4-5 times a day. And I'm talking EAT - not a 100-200 calorie snack, but more like a very large bowl of cereal (2.5-3 servings) for breakfast, 2-3 servings of fruit, 2 sandwiches and maybe some ramen for lunch, 2 more servings of fruit, and dinner is generally a large protein (ie - steak, pork chops, chicken breast) with pasta, pierogi, vegetables, etc. I may even have another bowl of cereal later on if I'm up late. I haven't kept track of the numbers in some time, but it's probably pretty close to what I was eating when I was over 400 pounds.

    Long story short, (too late, I know), I believe my previously slow metabolism has been readjusted to burn better, if you will.
    You probably have a lot more muscle than you used to, which burns more calories. Add the exercise and you burn even more. If you are 30 years old, six feet tall, weigh 200 pounds and are very active you could burn about the same number of calories as a person who is the same age and height but weighs twice as much but is sedentary.

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