A Metabolic Test & Perhaps a Taboo Reason Why You Can’t Lose Weight

You guys!

Oh my gosh. So many things to talk about…

I’ll narrow it down and pick my favorite.. which starts with THIS:

So at my future employer (read: gym) all new-hires are required to get all sorts of fancy-shmancy tests- for their own health purposes and in order to get a better idea of how the actual procedures go down in order to more accurately inform our clients of what everything consists of. So, Friday I went into the gym and got my Metabolic Test done.

For starters, I had to be in a fasted state. This is easier said than done since I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee 12 hours before the test, which meant that I had to get up around 6am, get to the gym and shadow trainers and try to function like less of a zombie and more of a human being until 11:30am for my test to begin. I couldn’t eat for the 12 hours before, and I couldn’t exercise 24 hours before the test. Rules, rules, rules. My caffeine-withdrawal induced migraine set in around 9am. Rough stuff.

I sat in a room for about 30 minutes, breathing into a mask thing that closed my nose and forced me to breath out of my mouth. The mask was hooked up with different wires to a computer that analyzed my oxygen- to put it simply. She shut the light off and I was instructed to relax. Easy enough.
Then it was to the treadmill. I was going to exercise to a sub-maximal level. Didn’t sound too hard- but after about 20 minutes, I quickly changed my mind. Half marathon training or not, running on a treadmill at a 10% incline is hard shit- not to mention I was getting woozy and light-headed from lack of food/caffeine. I had to wait until my body switched from using a mixture of fat/carbs/protein broken down by oxygen as a fuel source to pure Carbohydrates. This sounds a lot more pleasant than it actually is. I kept feeling like I was at MORE THAN A SUB-MAXIMAL LEVEL, but I had to wait for my body to get the message: START USING PURE CARBS!  Good thing there was a mask over my mouth- so many profanities would have been flying out if there wasn’t. The computer beeped, indicating that my RQ* was finally 1.0. Thank god. Cool down. Done. I survived- barely.

Then the results:
She asked me if I had a hard time losing weight. Uhm, yes. YES x’s FIVE HUNDRED GAZILLION FOREVER AND EVER!!
She asked me if I lift weights. Uhm, yes. YES! Except less enthusiastic than how hard it is for me to ever lose weight.
She asked me about how many calories I eat per day. I really don’t count, but I know it’s somewhere around 1,800.
She made an “ah-hah” sound.

She asked my future boss what his RMR** is. He said “1,800” and she said: “Christina’s RMR is almost double yours!”
Mmmmmm….what?

Let me back up and break it down. (Also, here is where I will let my utmost nerdy-ness shine through!)
*RQ or Respiratory Quotient:  The amount of Carbon Dioxide eliminated by the body divided by the amount of Oxygen used by the body. Depending on this number, you can tell what macronutrient the body is using for fuel at that moment.
~ 0.7 the body is burning fat. This happens at rest- yes, your body metabolizes fat when you are at rest.
~1.0 the body is using pure carbohydrates. This happens without the use of oxygen to break down the fuel source and the body can only use the readily available ATP. This can only happen for so long before the body reaches its lactic-acid threshold and is forced into fatigue and continuing activity is not possible. (read: hitting the wall.)
**RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate:   The amount of calories your body burns at rest- literally, if you were to lay in bed all day, how many calories are required for your body to perform its most basic functions like breathing and blinking.

So, ladies and gentlemen, somehow- my RMR is ~2,400. My body burns ~2,400 calories at rest.
So I should weigh 2 pounds, right?
Wrong.
If you look at the picture above, it says I should be eating about ~2,600 calories on my inactive days. This means on a day that I run 10+ miles, you can add about 1,000+ calories to that number. So we’re looking at a range of anywhere between 2,600-3,600 calories– if I run 10miles, not including more.
So I’ve been eating about 1,800… so why aren’t I wasting away?

My body is scared and it’s all my fault. 
I accidentally trained my metabolism to slow down and hang on to every last thing I feed it in order to “stay alive.”
My activity level exceeds the amount in which I feed my body- and by too much for it to result in weight loss. Simply put: my body is in starvation mode, it thinks we’re starving.
I think a lot of it has to do with my “previous life style” compared to now. Not eating as healthy as I do now and drinking a lot more= surplus of calories + not running and lifting all of the time= not-so fast of a metabolism and too many calories = not thin.
And then an increase in activity + decrease in calories without ever really losing any weight= scare metabolism into thinking we’re starving and hold on to everything it gets in order to sustain activity level & not die.

Pretty much, you should never eat less than 1,200 calories. EVER. Even if you need to lose weight. This is fact. Once you drop below that is about when starvation mode kicks in. According to my test results and my activity level, I am at a ~1,200+ caloric deficit, which is grounds for starvation-metabolism to kick in.

It sounds weird. I sound like a nut job. I KNOW, I KNOW.
Like I should be one, skinny little girl!
She said it herself, she said: “it sounds like a cruel joke, I know. Want to lose weight? Increase your caloric intake.”

But we ran out of time. I had to leave to get to the Park District on time and she said we’d talk about it later.
My mind marveled about all of the possibilities on the way home: unlimited pasta dinners! unlimited sushi! unlimited anything I ever want!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then I realized I hadn’t eaten in what felt like forever and that’s mostly why I was salivating. Once I ate, I knew that this did not mean that I can start shoving whatever I want into my mouth- nor would I want to- so I sent her an email. I don’t want to wait until summer to figure out what the HELL I’m supposed to do with this kind of information. She hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but I will keep you all posted!

I’m not saying that if you’re having a hard time losing weight- simply eat more, because no, no, no, and no. But if you’re active and healthy and honestly struggling with weight loss KNOWING FOR SURE that you are doing everything healthily and correctly, or maybe even if you’ve hit a plateau in your progress, I can guarantee that you may need to just increase your caloric intake. I am not a registered dietitian, so I cannot say for sure- nor can I say by how MUCH you should increase your caloric intake- but it is something to consider!

The thing is, is that I don’t feel hungry all of the time. I fill myself and am satisfied throughout the day. So this might actually be harder than it sounds. Don’t get me wrong- music to my ears hearing that maybe, just maybe I need to eat more and I’ll lose weight. SOUNDS LIKE A FREAKIN’ DREAM.
I’m just a little worried as to how exactly my body is going to react to more calories: if my metabolism has slowed down, then more calories, at least at first, is bound to result in weight gain.
Bleh. Sticky situation.
Especially considering the amount of food I thought I was buying before- look out, grocery store, I am coming for you!
So that’s THAT- FOR NOW.

And now it’s my bedtime but I’ll be back tomorrow to explain ANOTHER important piece of information that I learned today that seriously rocked my world. Let’s just say the title will be: “Why eating apples leaves you hungry.”

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One thought on “A Metabolic Test & Perhaps a Taboo Reason Why You Can’t Lose Weight

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