Is A Slow Metabolism Why You Can’t Lose Fat? Or Is That Just Your Bullshit Excuse?

By 10.09.15

As a trainer who works with clients via in person and online training, I specialize in helping people drop massive amounts of fat. Because everyone I work with is mainly looking to drop fat, I hear a lot about why people have struggled in the past.

Sometimes this means I get some pretty interesting excuses. Like the lady who told me she couldn’t lose weight because she was addicted to sugar.

Why was she addicted to sugar? Her grandfather worked on a sugar cane plantation, and she was genetically hardwired to be a sugar addict.

That’s not a joke.

Those absurd excuses are rare. By far and away the most common reason I hear from everyone I work with is one you’re probably familiar with.

The ol’ I’ve got a slow metabolism excuse runs rampant when it comes to failed weight loss explanations. I’d be willing to bet every penny in my bank account (approximately $3.56) that you’ve either given that excuse, or heard it from someone once before.

It sounds good after all. A slow metabolism would absolve you of any responsibility for not dropping fat, since metabolism is pretty fucking important when it comes to that whole weight loss thing.

Here’s the kicker about that excuse though: you don’t have a slow metabolism.

What we need to know about metabolism.

There’s a myth that persists in the health and fitness world that metabolism is this static thing that we can build up through eating small meals every few hours, strength training, and doing HIIT cardio.

The idea is that the faster our metabolism, the more calories we’re going to burn on a daily basis. So if we can ramp up our metabolism, we’ll drop more fat via burning more calories.

Those who claim to have a slow metabolism often talk about how they can’t drop weight because they’re metabolism is so slow, that it won’t allow them to burn enough calories to drop fat.

If you read the post about figuring out how many calories you need to eat each day, you might be seeing a flaw in this thinking.

You don’t have a slow BMR.

In that post I talked a bit about BMR, or basal metabolic rate. The amount of calories we burn every day just to sustain life. For bros or lady bros out there, this number usually winds up being somewhere around 1,500-2,000 calories every day.

That’s 1,500-2,000 calories per day burned just maintaining life. That’s not even taking into account calories burned through non-exercise activity, digesting food, or exercise.

Those who claim to have a slow metabolism are basically saying they have a BMR that isn’t functioning properly. By the very definition they’re admitting they have a difficult time maintaining life. It may feel that way when you’re experiencing a gigantic hang over, but that isn’t the case when it comes to real life.

BMR doesn’t just down regulate for people to an extent that makes weight loss impossible.

While we’re on the topic of metabolism, it’s worth noting that skinny people don’t have faster metabolisms.

One of the biggest myths about metabolism is that naturally skinny people have a faster metabolism, which allows them to stay skinnier no matter what they eat. In fact, skinny people actually have slower metabolisms than larger people.

Body weight, over all size, food intake, and other factors impact metabolism. If someone is larger, they’ll burn more calories to maintain life than someone that is smaller. Smaller people have less to influence things like BMR than larger people.

It’s not a joke when I say that very large people have faster metabolisms than you do. It doesn’t matter if most of their weight is fat or muscle. Overall size is a big indicator of metabolism.

Should you even care about metabolism?

Hell yes you should. You just shouldn’t be using metabolism as a scapegoat for your inability to drop fat. Metabolism isn’t some static thing that is a set number. A number of factors influence it. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your metabolism is functioning properly.

  • Sleep enough
  • Eat enough (eating too little down regulates metabolism)
  • Build muscle (muscle is more metabolically active than fat, not by a ton, but enough to make a difference)

If you’re not making progress, what should you do?

Get your eating in check. You may think you’re eating well, but chances are you’re probably not if you’re not making progress. Create a food journal and keep track of what you’re eating and drinking over the next five days. After those five days, evaluate your overall caloric intake, and compare it to our guide to see how you compare.


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