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Genetics no bar to weight loss

By Reggie Palma

LAST UPDATED: 12:58 a.m. HST, Jun 12, 2010

To lose one pound in one week, a person has to get rid of 3,500 kilocalories. To do this, you can burn 500 calories a day, cut out 500 calories a day or find a combination of both. As simple as this sounds, there are many factors contributing to the ease or difficulty of losing or gaining weight.

Factors, from an individual's fat-cell count to varying levels of enzymes controlling metabolism and hunger, are a result of genetics. However, genetic predisposition is exactly that, a predisposition, not a destiny. You have the choice of being a slave to your metabolic genes or a commander of them.

Your environment, whether internal or external, plays a major role in the body shape your genes express. Think of the body as a machine that strives for balance. It doesn't like major environmental swings and constantly adjusts to achieve homeostasis, or balance.

When one decides to change calorie intake, for instance, the body will either accept the change or fight it by readjusting hormone levels that regulate metabolism. This is why some people lose weight easily, while others do not.

Both individuals will lose weight as long as they maintain a caloric deficit. Genetics will not prevent you from losing weight; it only will determine the ease at which it happens. For those who see results fast, congratulations, you are genetically blessed. For those who have tortoiselike results, remember that permanent change takes time to establish.

Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist, has been a personal trainer for 12 years and has a fourth-degree black belt in the Filipino martial art of kali. He can be reached at or 392-2314.

NOTE: Tips based on a person who wants to lose 30 pounds, leads a sedentary lifestyle, has little exercise experience and is a yo-yo dieter. This person also has a full-time job that imposes time limitations. Consult a physician before starting any diet or fitness regimen.


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