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The art and science of weight loss, part 4

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In the previous posts on this topic I have discussed the need for a sustained energy deficit in order to lose weight, the role of diet and exercise, and the importance of metabolic rate.  In this post I will discuss ways to boost your metabolic rate.

Metabolic rate is determined in a large part, by the amount of lean body mass (or muscle), that a person has.  As people lose weight, they tend to lose some muscle as well as fat, and this is one reason why metabolic rate drops with weight loss.  The way to prevent this is to exercise, and exercise in a way that will build muscle.

In order to build muscle it is necessary to do exercise that makes the muscles work against weight or some other resistance.  Low repetitions, at an intensity of at least 60-70% of maximum, seems to be the best way to build muscle.  It is also important to be consuming a diet high in protein (at least 0.3 x body weight in pounds = grams of protein per day) as protein is the building blocks of new muscle.

This kind of exercise can be done at the gym, with special machines, but in fact does not need any special equipment.  It is possible to create an effective exercise routine using your own body weight as resistance with specific exercises.  We would recommend professional advice before starting any exercise routine, in order to prevent injury.  At Oregon Weight Loss Surgery we work with physical therapists who are happy to see people for this indication.  These visits are often covered by insurance also.

Although exercise is the single most important intervention to boost metabolic rate, sometimes it isn’t enough.  Some people will require additional prescriptions of thermogenic (metabolism boosting) drugs for a short period of time.  Almost always these medications can e slowly stopped after a period of several months.  Green tea extract capsules can also provide some help in boosting metabolism.  Here at Oregon Weight Loss Surgery, Dr Raum has a vast experience in the use medications to boost metabolic rate.  We recommend consultation with him for all patients with a moderately or severely low metabolic rate.

In summary, exercise is not only important to burn calories and feel more energetic, it is also a critical part of maintaining a healthy metabolic rate.  Pharmacological support is also sometimes necessary, but this is almost always only temporary.

The next post in this series will discuss the effects of bariatric surgery, and how these operations act as a tool for weight loss.

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