By Mackie Shilstone
Webster's New American Dictionary defines metabolism as "The process by which the cells or tissues of a living body transform food materials into their own vital substance." An individual's metabolic rate is roughly defined as the amount of time it takes the body to break down the most recently ingested food into vital substances and waste products.
People who have high rates of metabolism usually have fewer problems controlling their weight. We see this in many children and teenagers who have high levels of physical activity. They may stay at a comfortable weight level because they're burning off calories quickly. The food they're taking in is digested more rapidly and what remains in the body is building up more solid muscle mass than fat.
A complaint one often hears from people as they age is that their metabolism has slowed down. Their food is taking longer to digest and they're gaining weight at an unaccustomed rate.
All too frequently, many of those who are confronted with this problem accept it as a fact of life and they do little or nothing to stop the weight gain or shed their excess pounds. Nor do they change their eating habits or lifestyles. They don't think there's anything they can do to restore their old metabolic rate and they give up trying.
However, according to experts in the field, it is possible to increase your metabolism if you conscientiously apply yourself to solving the problem, but it takes a wholehearted, sustained effort. The answer lies in increasing the body's lean muscle mass while, at the same time, decreasing the amount of body fat. I recommend a diet of 25-50 calories per pound per day of the body's lean muscle mass. Methods are available to help you determine your lean muscle mass and your overall body composition.
Obesity is a serious problem in this country. There are no miracle cures. I recommend a carefully managed diet and exercise program to increase metabolism and reduce excess body fat. Consult your doctor or a licensed nutritionist for a weight-reduction plan that is specifically tailored for you.
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