The Science of Weight Loss

One of the most common health and fitness goals is to lose weight, but how exactly does that process work in our bodies? To understand how weight loss works, it’s important to understand first how metabolism works. According to the Mayo Clinic, “metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Even when you're at rest, your body needs energy for all its ‘hidden’ functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate — what you might call metabolism.” Your metabolism can be affected by many different factors, including your age, gender, and body composition (individuals who are larger or have more muscle burn calories faster).[1]

However, metabolism is only one factor when it comes to weight loss. The rate at which you burn calories is also affected by the way your body processes food as well as your level of physical activity. The latter is the most variable when it comes to the rate at which you burn calories, which makes sense--if you’re sitting on the couch watching Netflix, you’re not going to burn as many calories as you would if you took a walk around the block.

As tempting as it might be to blame a slow metabolism for a lack of weight loss--and it can be a factor--ultimately, weight loss comes down to expending more calories than you consume. However, it can’t just be a dietary change; true and lasting weight loss requires a whole lifestyle change. When you just alter your diet, it is difficult to maintain that weight loss. According to Pritikin, “95% of diets fail [and] most [people] regain weight within five years.” For a more effective solution, you need to shift your whole mentality. Individuals who have lost weight and kept it off for five or more years have certain qualities in common: they get enough sleep, properly hydrate, they exercise for at least 60 minutes/day, they eat low-fat, low-calorie whole foods, and they eat out less than three times per week.[2] It might seem like a major shift, but if you want to lose weight, remember that it’s a change in the way you live your life. It will get easier over time! Make the science of weight loss work for you as you pursue your health and fitness goals.

*Vemma Nutrition Company recommends following a healthy approach to weight loss by consulting with your physician or health care professional prior to starting any new exercise or diet plan.


[1] “Can You Boost Your Metabolism?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508.

[2] Killoran, Eugenia. “The Science of Weight Loss Infographic.” Pritikin Weight Loss Resort, Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, 16 Aug. 2015, www.pritikin.com/your-health/health-benefits/healthy-weight-loss/the-science-of-weight-loss-infographic.html.