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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weighing in on fat issue by Jonathan Tan

Weighing in on fat issue
Posted on 19 October 2011 - 11:56am
Jonathan Tan

THERE are many reasons why you gain weight. Slow metabolism is one. However, it is rare and usually not the reason why you are overweight or obese.

That is usually a matter of diet and exercise.

Metabolism is the process in which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.

Some people need more calories to burn fuel while others have to work harder at it.

Similarly in cars, no two 1.5cc models from different marques are similar in fuel efficiency.

Even when you are at rest, your body needs energy for functions such as breathing, blood circulation and repairing cells.

The brain, the hardest working organ in your body together with the heart, which is also the strongest muscle in the body, require a massive amount of calories to enable them to function properly.

That’s why people with jobs that require deep concentration need to literally feed their brain to keep it alert all the time.

Usually, this stimulus comes in the form of carbohydrate-rich snacks like chocolate. Coffee is another stimulant that perks one up.

The number of calories your body uses for basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

The rate of energy your body needs is dependent on some predetermined factors like:

Your body size and composition
If you weigh more or have more muscle mass, you will burn more calories, even at rest. Overweight people are more likely to have a faster metabolic rate, not a slower one. One noticeable feature of overweight individuals is an elevated heart rate even at rest. The heart has to work overtime because of an extensive body mass which needs to be ‘fed’ with oxygen.

Your sex
Men, compared to women, probably have less body fat and more muscle mass, hence they tend to burn more calories. In order to retain body muscular composition, muscles need to be replenished with nutrients.

Your age
As you get older, your muscle mass decreases, which slows down the rate at which you burn calories.

Genetics and family history
Your genetic make-up can, in subtle ways, influence your likelihood to become obese through taste perception and appetite control, or in more direct ways such as how and where you accumulate fat.
If one of your parents is severely obese, your risk increases five-fold. Only rarely is excessive weight gain caused by a medical problem that slows down metabolism, such as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

Other reasons for weight gain filters down to two other factors – lifestyle choices and limited range of activities.

As we become more affluent, a natural tendency to reduce activity becomes more apparent. People strive to work harder either to maintain or increase lifestyle quality while health and fitness take a back seat. Alcohol consumption and overeating are usually associated with poor lifestyle habits. Trying to boost your metabolism probably will not lead to weight loss, at least not to the degree you will enjoy if you change your diet and lifestyle habits as well.

How much you weigh really depends on the number of calories you eat and how much physical activity you get.

The key factor here is to empower yourself to create an imbalance, whereby your body expends more calories than it consumes.

Most of us know what food we should eat and what we should avoid. Nevertheless, we continue to pile our plates with unhealthy fare.

And, keep in mind that as you age, you may need even fewer calories.
If you are concerned about your weight or feel that your metabolism is too slow, consult a doctor or a nutritionist.

Your doctor can check for medical causes and help you to change your lifestyle habits. A nutritionist, on the other hand, can tell you what food to avoid and help you to make healthy choices.

More importantly, get more active physically, and get some exercise.

Is weight gain with age inevitable? It can seem that way when your weight climbs despite dieting and even exercising.

A range of lifestyle choices, not just the number of calories in your diet, influences your weight as you age.

One factor that influences weight gain is the nature of your job and your designation. Almost all executive level jobs are associated with sitting in front of the computer.

A majority of the urban population is also highly connected to each other through the internet. As with watching TV, such activities spell less time for exercise.

If you do not actively resolve to make changes, weight gain will be inevitable. We sit too much, eat too much and worse of all, food quality through processing is deteriorating.

Get moving, get active, join a gym. Do something. Don’t ask questions to which you already know the answers.

No time to exercise? You will after you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, gout, arrhythmia (heart skips a beat), arm and chest numbness ... Do I need to mention more?

Let’s be fit!

Jonathan Tan has been in the fitness industry for the past 10 years as a personal trainer, fitness consultant and he’s currently club manager of the Sports Toto Fitness Centre at Berjaya Times Square. He can be contacted at

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