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Myth: If you can’t lose weight, you’re eating too much

TRUTH:  There are a variety of factors that play a role in your weight and health.  The major components are: genetics, food quantity and quality, and physical activity level.  Of course, there are even more factors, such as age, gender, race, and quantity/quality of sleep, but let’s focus on the major factors for now.

Many overweight people feel that they lost the genetic lottery, causing a slow metabolism, and therefore, they cannot lose weight.  And you know what? They might be right.  Not 100% right but genetic research is starting to show that weight is hugely influenced by your genes.

Besides genetics, exercise is receiving a lot of attention for the effect it can have on weight control.  Many studies show that you can overcome a genetic predisposition to being overweight if you increase your exercise.

Obviously, food is still an important factor in body weight; the calories you eat are what your body has for energy.  No more and no less.  Maybe one day, we’ll evolve to be able to photosynthesize and make our own calories, but as of now, that’s not an option. So, if you eat fewer calories than you need, you’re going to lose weight.

My point is that just because you have trouble losing weight, it doesn’t mean you’re not trying.  Simply put, you can’t change you genetics but you can change your lifestyle.  Recent research suggests that increasing the amount that you exercise has a more powerful effecting on weight than dieting alone. 

BOTTOM LINE:  You are what you eat, sleep, do for physical activity, have as your genetic code, etc.  Genetics play a role in your body type and health but they’re not everything.  Food quantity and quality (among other things) tips the caloric equation but physical activity is critical in sustained weight loss.

Fad diets are not the most effective way to lose weight so if you’re having trouble losing, reconsider your options.  Eating a variety of healthy foods, coupled with exercise will certainly be more effective – and adopting a healthier lifestyle is clearly better in the short and long term than crash dieting.


  1. New York Times article: Gene’s Take Charge, Diets Fall by the Wayside
  2. Time article: Can Exercise Trump Genetics?

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