Those on a weight-loss program know that losing weight isn’t always permanent. Lost weight often comes back with a vengeance.
So why is long-term weight loss so challenging? A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the culprit is likely your resting metabolic rate.
What is resting metabolic rate, and how can you use it to lose weight and keep it off for good? Here’s what you need to know.
All About Your Resting Metabolic Rate
Resting metabolic rate, or RMR, denotes the biochemical activity that occurs in your body while you are not physically active. Resting metabolic activity is what keeps your body warm and, critically, what keeps you breathing.
In simpler terms, your RMR is about burning calories. Even while sedentary, your body continues to burn calories. In fact, 80 percent of the calories you burn per day are burned while you’re at rest, thanks to resting metabolic functions.
Weight loss is about consuming fewer calories than your body expends. Knowing your RMR is key to knowing how many calories your body burns on an average day and how many calories you should consume to lose weight.
Weight Loss Triggers A Drop In Your RMR
The NIH study tracked 14 contestants from the television show “The Biggest Loser” after the show ended. The contestants lost an average of 125 pounds during the show.
Six years after the show, however, the study found that 13 of the 14 contestants had regained much of their lost weight, despite diet and exercise.
The NIH study found that the contestants’ drastic weight loss produced a corresponding drop in their resting metabolic rates. Their bodies burned fewer calories while at rest than they did before their weight loss.
Put simply, weight loss results in a lower RMR. The “Biggest Loser” contestants experienced a 30 percent drop in their RMRs. That means their bodies were burning 30 percent fewer calories while at rest than before the weight loss.
Making up for such a large drop in RMR would require almost two hours per day of brisk walking, seven days per week.
Maintain Your RMR By Strengthening Your Soleus Muscles
Your soleus muscle, located in your calves, is often referred to as your body’s second heart. That’s because your soleus muscle is responsible for pumping blood from your lower body back up to your heart. The stronger the pump, the more blood gets delivered back to the heart, which results in a higher RMR.
With a stronger soleus muscle, you can boost your resting metabolic rate, helping you keep your weight off. Along with critical health steps, such as maintaining a good diet and a disciplined exercise regimen, training your soleus muscles is essential.
Because of our sedentary lifestyles, our calf muscles tend to weaken. The soleus muscles require training of long duration and low intensity. Practicing tai chi is an excellent way to achieve stronger soleus muscles. There are also devices that you can use to deliver mechanical vibrations to your soleus muscles while seated, causing them to undergo reflex contractions.
Staying healthy and in shape is a lifelong journey. While keeping lost weight off for good can be difficult, maintaining a good RMR is an important step.