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We all have that one friend that can seemingly eat whatever they want and never put on weight.
It’s because they have a fast metabolism, right?
Maybe, but probably not as fast as you might think…..
This study showed the variability between different peoples metabolisms and the results are interesting.
They showed 68% of the population was within 6-8% of the average metabolic rate, whilst 96% of the population was within 10-16% of the average metabolic rate.
Let’s put this into perspective, using an arbitrary average calorie intake of 2000 calories per day:
68% of the population would within 1840 – 2160 calories per day
96% of the population would be within 1680 – 2320 calories per day
So whilst there could be some variability between 2 individuals, we’re not talking thousands of calories here. Certainly not “eat whatever you want” metabolisms.
It’s only a small number of the population that would fall outside of the norms.
That means, if you have a friend of a similar age, height, weight and activity level, you probably have similar metabolisms.
So why is it they can seemingly eat so much more than you and not gain weight?!
There are usually 2 main reasons for this…….
Daily Energy Expenditure
In the summary of the text the researchers determined:
“There is considerable variability in total daily energy expenditure, largely due to variations in non-exercise activity”
In other words, those who do more, burn more. It seems really simple but ultimately that is what is going to determine variabilities in metabolism.
If you move around a lot for work or are generally a busy person on your feet all day, you’re going to burn a lot more calories and have a “faster metabolism” than someone who sits at a desk all day.
As you can see from this chart, the stuff you do outside of traditional exercise (NEAT) makes up a large chunk of your daily energy expenditure.
This is why we recommend people move around as much as possible; Walk to work, do your chores, clean the car, just get up and move around. Whilst they are still in their infancy (and not entirely accurate), activity trackers can help to keep you accountable and make you realise how much you are really moving.
Meal Size & Frequency
How do you know if that isn’t the first meal that your friend or colleague has had today? The truth is, most of the time, you don’t.
Unless you live with someone and are around them 24 hours a day, you don’t see everything they eat and it becomes difficult to tell what their daily intake is.
You may see them wolf down a Mars bar every day (other chocolate bars are available) but if they end up meeting or even coming under their daily calorie allowance…. they won’t put on weight.
Using the example above, if you were to eat 1000 calories a day AND a Mars bar, you wouldn’t put on weight as you are under your 2000 calorie per day target.
Note: We obviously have the health implications of eating a daily Mars bar and don’t recommend it. This is just for the sake of the argument.
If you want to eat more at certain meals (dinner for example) then you could try;
- Reducing your meal frequency by having less snacks throughout the day OR
- Simply reducing the amount of calories you have in your current meals.
Think of it like a “budget”, you are effectively “saving” your calories to spend on a “big purchase” or in this case, higher calorie meal.
|DAY 1||DAY 2|
As you can see, same totals, different distribution throughout the day.
This is effectively what people who can seemingly eat anything are doing. Whether they know they are doing it is a different story but ultimately they are getting to the end of the day either at their maintenance calorie intake or below.
It’s easy to point the finger and blame it on someone’s metabolism but unless you know exactly what that persons activity level is and exactly what they eat when you aren’t around, you’ll never know.
The reality is though, there is little variance, like for like, between individuals metabolisms.
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