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Rosemary Conley CBE

This week we are looking at the subject of metabolism. It is not uncommon for people to blame their excess weight on having a slow metabolism but in reality, it is extremely unlikely to be the case.

In this week’s Newsletter we hope to clarify some of the misconceptions about our metabolism in relation to our weight and Mary will explain in her Fitness section, how exercise can dramatically boost our metabolic rate and help us to slim down and stay that way.

Along the journey of my long career in diet and fitness I have had the privilege of working with some amazing people, including Professor Andrew Prentice who was introduced to me by Mary in 1995.

One of the occasions that Professor Andrew and I worked together was for a feature in one of my TV series, back in the day. The subject of the filming was to measure the metabolic rate, under clinical conditions, of a lady who honestly believed she had a slow metabolism. At the same time, my metabolic rate was measured too.

We all went along to a Nutrition Research Unit where Andrew was based. The very nice lady who had volunteered to have her metabolism measured was quite tall and probably three stone overweight and wasn’t an exerciser. She was convinced her metabolic rate (the number calories her body burned each day to keep her alive) was around 1100 a day. However, after being put in a special chamber that could measure her metabolic rate through the air she breathed in and out over a period of time, Andrew was able to tell her that her BMR (basal metabolic rate) was in fact 1850! She was visibly shocked as she came to the realisation that the only reason for her not losing weight was because she was simply eating too much and not exercising enough.

I was similarly tested. For my 5’2” height, my 8st weight and my age of about 50 at the time, a medical chart would have gauged my BMR at around 1250 a day, but because I was an exerciser, my BMR was in fact 1480!

When you read Mary’s explanation as to how we can increase our metabolic rate through strength exercises later in this Newsletter, I think you will be greatly motivated to do more exercise!

One point that should be made is that as we grow older, our metabolic rate will fall a little because of the natural ageing process however, some of that is due to the fact that our muscles reduce in size and strength because we are less active - another reason for exercising regularly!

If we want to lose weight, eating sufficient calories to enable your body to meet its basic metabolic needs (calories equal to our BMR) will ensure that we eat enough calories to be healthy, then, when we move about and exercise regularly, we will burn extra calories which is bound to create a weight loss. Happy days!

Why not have a look at our video Eat Healthily Forever and check out our Strength and Toning Exercises.

Recipe of the Week

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

This easy-to-cook, highly nutritious, curried soup is deliciously smooth with a real kick in the flavour and with Butternut Squashes in season right now it's a great time to try it.

Serves 4
Per serving: 77 kcal, 0.5% fat
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

1 small butternut squash
115g fresh young carrots, washed and sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
1-2 tsps medium curry powder (eg tandoori mix)
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock (Use two vegetable stockpots/cubes)
2 bay leaves (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For serving
1 tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt or sprinkle with chopped parsley

  1. Preheat a large non-stick frying pan and spray with Fry-Light Rapeseed Oil.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthways and remove the seeds with a spoon and discard. Using a sharp vegetable knife, peel away the thick skin and cut the flesh into chunks.
  3. Place the squash and the other vegetables in the hot pan and dry-fry for 4-5 minutes, until they soften and start to colour.
  4. Stir in the curry powder and cook out for 1 minute keeping the mixture moving to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pan. Add freshly ground black pepper.
  5. If you have a soup-maker, place the semi-cooked vegetables, the bay leaves and the stock all in together and cook for 20 minutes. Alternatively, place all the vegetables in a large saucepan and pour in the vegetable stock, stirring continuously, then add the bay leaves (if using) and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool slightly then remove the bay leaves. If using a soup-maker, pulse for 30 seconds, rest and repeat. Alternatively, place mixture in a liquidiser and liquidise until smooth.
  7. Check the seasoning and add more freshly ground black pepper if needed.
  8. Serve with a swirl of Greek yogurt if desired.
Butternut Squash is a type of winter squash related to pumpkins and gourds. It has a sweet, nutty taste with a tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It is a good source of fibre, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium; and it is a source of vitamin A.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

When I set out to write to you each week I have only one goal in mind - to encourage you all to move as much as you possibly can.

I use the word 'move' wisely, as a long time ago I discovered that some people really do hate the thought of formal exercise because they immediately imagine that ‘exercise’ means going for a run or joining a gym for example. However, 50 years on into my highly physical career, I have found people can be persuaded to exercise providing we can find the best way to motivate them.  So, this week I am going to focus on your metabolism as a way of inspiring you to be as active as possible and to motivate you to include as much 'formal' exercise as your lifestyle allows.

Put simply, the more we exercise the higher our metabolic rate and the easier it is to control our weight, with the added bonus of a very fit and toned body!

What is Metabolism?

Our metabolism is the use of energy in our body to keep us alive.  It involves such important things as providing the energy to enable our vital organs to work, for us to breathe, our body to repair cells and to digest food.  If we stayed in bed all day, we would burn around 1400 calories just by being alive. That is called our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) but as soon as we start moving, and add in plenty of activity and exercise, we can seriously increase that rate to such an extent that weight loss is easily achieved.

Now a word of warning here.  Many, many exercisers have made the BIG mistake in thinking their exercise was such hard work that they must have used up SO much energy (calories) that they can reward themselves with loads of extra food (calories)!  Instead, if we eat just enough food to cover our BMR, and use exercise as the best way to burn all that ‘energy’ in your body, (stored in the form of body fat), our body has to call on our fat stores for extra fuel and our weight has to gradually reduce.

On average our BMR uses up 1 calorie per minute amounting to 1440 calories per day.  Stick to that and then get moving!

Ways to Increase your Metabolism

  • Exercise regularly and you will maintain a higher metabolism.
  • Muscle is an energy-hungry tissue so uses up more calories than fat.  Following a whole-body Weights Programme like our Standing Weights Workout or Floor Weights Workout guarantees a significant increase in muscle size and strength as long as you are persistent and do it regularly.  If you do, high metabolism is guaranteed!
  • When you exercise generally, you may not need to do longer sessions, just add more intensity so you burn energy at a faster rate.  You will find faster ‘bursts’ occasionally on your walks will do just that!
  • Those who fidget a lot tend to be slimmer which demonstrates that 'moving more' generally throughout the day has a big impact on our metabolism.
  • Now, here’s the good news! An exercise session of around 30 minutes, creating a good amount of 'heat', gives you around 12 hours of a raised metabolism even after you have finished exercising.  So, sitting on the sofa after a good workout is still burning off those calories much faster than if you had done no exercise at all! Now that is good news.

So, if you have slackened off recently for whatever reason, (and we all have plenty of excuses to hand) get back on it.  Set yourself a goal that is achievable and get spending energy that guarantees a high metabolism.

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. On your daily walk add in an occasional blast of slow jogging, where you do little jogging steps at the same pace as if you were walking. 
    (A full description of how to do this is included in The 28-Day Immunity Plan book.)
  2. Do the exercises from The 28-Day Immunity Plan 3 times this week. Choose the appropriate week to suit your fitness level:
    1. Week 1 – Gentle Start 
    2. Week 2 – Progressing our Strength
    3. Week 3 – Challenging and Strengthening
    4. Week 4 – Advanced Workout
      Or do the Advanced Whole Body Strength Programme 3 times this week
  3. Once a day go up and down stairs 3 times consecutively. When you get that much out of breath and generate that amount of 'heat' you will achieve that higher metabolic rate.
Did you know…  

The UK government recommends that :

  • Men should not eat more than 30g of saturated fat a day.
  • Women should not eat more than 20g of saturated fat a day.

And Finally...

I hope this week’s Newsletter has inspired you into action. There is no doubt – if you want to speed up your metabolism then regular activity and strength exercises is the answer. Plus, exercise will keep you feeling and looking younger!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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