Conventional wisdom, scientific fact and various diet gurus have allocated approximately 3 500 calories to a pound of body weight. When embarking on a weight loss program for example, one would have to consume 3 500 less calories than is usually consumed over a certain time period to lose one pound of weight. What must be borne in mind however is that this does not necessarily apply in the exact same manner as one continues to progress with the weight loss program. As it happens, unfortunately for the person on the program, that as the body becomes increasingly accustomed to consuming less food, calories are expended at a slower rate.
The phenomenon that has been described above is called diet induced adaptive thermo genesis. This phenomenon can be likened to a slowdown in metabolic rate or the rate at which the body burns calories. The mechanism has been equated to the human bodys innate tendency to protect itself against starvation.
The human body has identified the lower calorie intake and adapts by becoming ultra efficient by maximising on the amount of calories it is currently consuming albeit at a slower rate. The primary manner in which this is achieved is by actually protecting its fat stores or reserves and rather tapping in to lean tissue or muscle to provide it with the calories it will need to continue its day-today functioning. This will inevitably lead to a loss of muscle, and the associated slowing of the metabolic rate, which contribute to the slowing weight loss.
An increasing number of weight loss programs tend to adhere to a loss of not more than 2 pounds or 7 000 calories per week. They also stick to a general rule of thumb of never going below 1 200-1 000 calories per day. Another fact that should however be borne in mind when calculating the rate at which the body burns calories is the amount of muscle distribution in the individual in question.
It has already been established that in general, the more muscle that is distributed in an individual, the higher is the metabolic rate. This is easily explained by the fact that in general men have a higher rate of metabolism than women having a bearing on the fact that they have on average a higher proportion of muscle than women.
Also a twenty year old has a higher metabolism than an eighty year old person because of the fact that they have on average more muscle. Muscle tissue expends much more calories than fat, so when we lose muscle tissue, our metabolic rate becomes slower and fewer calories can be expended. Previous research studies have shown that the body loses a relatively large amount of muscle tissue when a relatively low calorie intake has been registered and once again the metabolic rate has been suppressed.
The good news is that there are various ways to ensure that muscle tissue is not lost when calorie intake has been lowered. The first step is to make sure that you have a sufficient calorie intake with a sensible diet of not less than 1200-1000 calories per day. The other alternative is to build muscle which will speed up your metabolism. Muscle building is enhanced by the increase in exercise levels. Various types of exercise help the body to speed up the metabolic rate in different ways.
The first type of exercise can be classed as aerobic exercise, which includes such activities as jogging, swimming and spinning. This type of exercise tends to tone muscle and burn fat. The lowering of the fat-to-muscle ratio does speed up the rate of metabolism for example to some extent. But the second type of exercise that is strength or resistance training will build muscle and lower the ratio much faster. Some studies document that for every extra pound of muscle that you have, you will lose an extra 50 calories per day!