Nine: How does dieting in general affect it?
Well...nature takes a cruel turn here. Programmed to withstand starvation, our systems slow to conserve energy when we're not getting enough fuel. "As soon as you restrict your calories, your RMR goes down," says Nelson. Then, to add insult to evolutionary injury, as your body gets lighter, it requires less energy to move and maintain itself.
But don't give up: Instead, get up and go. Increasing your activity level seems to decrease appetite, says Nelson. And even modest resistance training can keep your RMR from dropping as you lose weight by building, and helping you hold on to, your lean tissue mass. You don't have to heft huge hunks of iron; reasonably strenuous training with machines or bands, or activities like Pilates, should work just fine.
Ten: Does metabolism really matter?
As far as weight loss goes, "the role of metabolism, RMR in particular, has been overrated," Smith says. Richard Weil, Exercise Physiologist at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, agrees: "People are just not expending enough energy. If you drive through McDonald's and eat your French fries in the automatic car wash while you call a guy on your cell phone to mow the lawn for you, you are never, ever going to lose weight." Rather than getting hung up on the rate of your metabolism, concentrate on making it work for a living. Ladies, start your engines!
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