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Do you have trouble losing weight? Are you constantly struggling to drop 10 to 20 pounds? Maybe it's not you but your metabolism.
Part of the problem for many people is they have a "broken metabolism," because they may not have been physically active enough for years, says James Hill, founding executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado in Denver.
He and obesity researcher Holly Wyatt have written State of Slim: Fix Your Metabolism and Drop 20 Pounds in 8 Weeks on the Colorado Diet with Christie Aschwanden, to help people fix their metabolisms.
The book suggests that people work up to doing 70 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, six days a week. The diet plan outlines a low-carb diet that dieters follow for two weeks and then they gradually increase the types of foods they eat as they increase their exercise.
Here's how the authors identify three metabolism-personality types and what these folks can do to trim down:
Their problem: These folks feel like they have to eat perfectly to lose weight. They religiously follow a diet - being hyper-vigilant about what they eat - and the pounds peel off, but the moment they start indulging they gain it back.
The solution: Easy gainers need to move their bodies more and learn to eat smarter so they don't have to spend every waking minute thinking about food.
Their problem: They eat very healthfully but never lose weight. They eat the right kinds of foods including whole-grain breads, fish, grilled chicken, lots of vegetables, berries, almonds, natural peanut butter, hummus and nuts. They steer clear of sugary soft drinks and processed foods, and only occasionally allow themselves indulgences such as low-fat frozen yogurt and pudding. They do a moderate amount of physical activity. They have mastered the art of weight maintenance but skipped the weight-loss step.
The solution: They need to get the weight off and the quickest way to do that is to reduce food intake for a few weeks. This might include phase 1 (a low-carb diet) and phase 2 (more foods added back to the eating plan) of the Colorado Diet, outlined in the book. After they lose the weight, they might only need to step up their physical activity a little since they already are regular exercisers.
Their problem: It's an unfortunate fact of life that as you get older, your muscle mass naturally begins to decrease - by 5% to 10% a decade after about age 40. Consequently the number of calories you burn decreases, and many tend to put on some fat. While exercise can help reduce loss of muscle with aging, exercise can't prevent it totally. It's a process that happens so gradually that you may not notice it until one day, you wake up with a pot belly.
The solution: A sluggish metabolism may feel like an added insult to an aging body, but unlike thinning hair, it's a problem you can do something about. The solution involves changes to both physical activity and diet. You have to ramp up your activity even more. You also have to eat smarter so your diet matches your changing metabolism.