Have you ever wondered why some people make huge efforts cutting down on their calorie intake and still gain weight while others eat whatever they want and still don't have even a small amount of fat on their belly? Recent research suggests the answer is likely to be in the genes.
Simply put, the term refers to the way our body uses the calories we intake. Basically, calories are turned into energy and fat. At young age, most people tend to have a good metabolism, which means that most of the calories consumed get turned into energy and burned. That explains why it’s quite easy to stay fit without any diets when you are, let’s say, 20. But as we age, our metabolism worsens and more calories gradually start to turn into fat and get stored in the body.
Metabolism is regulated by the endocrine system – to be more specific, through the hormones that our endocrine system produces. As a result, a hormonal imbalance can seriously affect the body mass. For example, one of the main symptoms of a condition called hypothyroidism – where the thyroid produces too little hormones – is stable weight gain, which often leads to obesity. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism, the condition characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, can cause sudden weight loss while your appetite and calorie intake remain the same or even increase.
Thanks to new genetic research, scientists have now got a new insight into the weight gain problem. They claim that our genes determine how fat or thin we are. For instance, if it’s coded in your genes that the body should contain 30% of fat, your metabolism will function to reach and sustain this exact number.
Let’s say one day you decide to lose some weight. You adopt a low-calorie diet and start to exercise regularly. As anyone who has tried to lose weight knows, first results are rather easy to achieve. So you also are likely to start losing weight and be happy about it. But after some short time as the amount of the fat in your body decreases and becomes less than that 30%, the endocrine system will adjust your metabolism through the hormones produced. The first effect will be an increased apatite. The main effect, however, will be that, regardless of how small your calorie intake might be, the body will be trying to turn most of it not into energy but into fat to store. As a result, your progress will be considerably slowed down despite all the desperate measures you still take.
But don’t despair and think you’re doomed to be overweight. Researchers say that the percentage of body fat coded in the genes is not a constant. It changes through your life, and moreover, there is something you can do to help it change in the right direction. The answer is a healthy lifestyle. By exercising regularly and eating healthy for a prolonged period of time, as researchers claim, you can promote positive mutations in the genes or at least prevent negative ones.