By Dr. Brian K. Bailey


While millions of people starve to death in many parts of the world, the United States has the dubious honor of being the fattest country on the globe:

Dieting is responsible for more than 400 deaths each year. And, according to two recent government surveys (by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the unhealthy numbers show no signs of lightening up: We're eating 231 more calories a day than we were 16 years ago, and the average weight of people aged 25 to 30 has increased by a whopping 10 pounds.

A recent Harris Poll, reported in USA Today in early 1997, stated that 74% of Americans, age 25 or older, are overweight and 24% of adults are obese-over their recommended weight by 20% or more. Approximately 13% of children and teenagers are over weight. We have an entire generation of kids who are going to be obese adults. Bariatric physicians estimate that for every 10% you are over your ideal weight you shorten your life by 10%. In fact, one third more people are obese now than a decade ago. Although the extra pounds could be explained by exercise-induced muscle (which, inch for inch, weighs more than fat), it's not likely. The latest excuse for being fat is "the fat gene". Well, our genes haven't changed over the last 20 years, however the way we fit into our jeans has changed. "The people in this country are still geared toward overeating," says Margaret McDowell, R.D., at the National Center for Health Statistics. If you don't want your over-eating to get the best of you, consider raising your basal metabolic rate.

Your basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body utilizes energy while at rest. Put another way, it has to do with how efficiently your body burns calories. As you may recall from your physiology classes, calories are the measuring unit of heat energy. For the purposes of this chapter, when your metabolism is higher, you burn more fat and have an easier time losing weight (fat) or maintaining your ideal body weight.

Calculating your basal metabolic rate



weight X 4.3 = A

weight X 6.2 = A

height X 4.3 = B

height X 12.7 = B

A + B + 655 = C

A + B + 65 = C

age X 4.7 = D

age X 6.8 = D

C - D = BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)


This is the number of calories your body burns when it is resting. Your BMR may be higher or lower than what you have calculated. This chapter describes ways to increase your BMR.

Statistics reveal that most people are not happy with their weight or the shape of their body. Chances are you fit into this category. Half of the women and a fourth of the men in this country are currently trying to lose weight and reshape their bodies. A sad fact is that a majority of these people are going about it in the wrong way, like swimming upstream. Most people try and loose weight by dieting which usually involves eating certain foods and cutting back on calories.

Diets Don't Work!

According to Dean Ornish, M.D. in his book Eat More, Weigh Less two out of three people who go on a diet will re-gain the weight in 1 year or less and 97% will re-gain the weight in 5 years. To make matters worse, a majority of dieters who loose weight will gain back even more fat than they had before they started the diet. They have violated the most important rule in creating and maintaining a healthy, fast metabolism; they lost lean body mass or muscle. Breaking this first rule is the reason most people get fatter as they age. Decreased activity leads to muscle loss. Why is lean muscle tissue so important?

1. Muscle burns fat-Muscle is a highly metabolic tissue; it burns five times as many calories as most other body tissues pound for pound. The addition of 10 pounds of muscle to your body can burn 600 calories per day. You would have to run 6 miles a day, seven days a week to burn the same number of calories. Ten extra pounds of muscle can burn a pound of fat in one week; that's 52 pounds of fat a year.

The best way to increase lean muscle mass is through resistance training which means weight lifting. I design a simple weight training program for my clients that involves only 30 minutes, 3 times a week for about six months that adds 10 pounds of muscle. Isn't that fantastic? The wonderful news about increasing your metabolism through increasing your muscle mass is that you don't have to restrict your calorie intake.

2. Grazing decreases fat storage-The second way to increase your metabolism is to eat several small meals a day. This keeps your metabolism stoked.

The typical dieter will often skip meals and, as research points out, the worst meal to skip, if you want to increase your metabolism, is breakfast.

This temporary fasting state sends a signal to the body that food is scarce. As a result, the stress hormones (including cortisone) increase and the body begins "lightening the load" and shedding its muscle tissue. Decreasing this metabolically active tissue will decrease the body's need for food. By the next feeding, the pancreas is sensitized and will sharply increase blood insulin levels which is the body's signal to make fat. Grazing (eating small meals every 2-3 hours) will decrease cholesterol 15%, decrease cortisol 17%, and decrease insulin 28%. Eating in this way will virtually prevent carbohydrates and proteins from being converted into fat. Have you ever wondered how the Sumo wrestlers get so big; they fast, and then gorge themselves with food.



Fig. 1 This graph illustrates how 700 Calories can be stored as fat by eating three meals. No calories stored as fat by eating six meals, the same Calories.


Three meals a day

Breakfast of 700 Calories is 100 over the threshold

Lunch of 800 Calories is 200 over the threshold

Dinner of 1,000 Calories is 400 over the threshold

100 + 200 + 400 = 700 Calories stored as fat


Six meals a day

Three meals at 600 Calories plus two at 300 and one at 100 with none over the fat storing threshold produces no fat storage.


Meal size-To prevent fat storage, keep your meal size under 600 Calories. To physically understand this, imagine rolling all the food on your plate into a ball. This ball should be no bigger than your fist. This is assuming a fat content of less than 30%. If the percentage of fat is higher, then eat less.


"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

-Albert Einstein


3. Choose the right foods that burn more fat-Foods that increase metabolism are vegetables (preferably raw), whole grains, legumes and fruits. Fruits should be eaten for breakfast or between meals. When you eat fruits with or after meals, the fructose is more likely to be converted to fat by the liver.

Whole, natural foods usually have a low glycemic index. A low glycemic index means that blood sugar is not rapidly elevated after a meal. High glycemic index foods, such as sugary foods, put your blood sugar on a rollercoaster. When blood sugar rises too rapidly, insulin is secreted in an overabundance.

This excess insulin stimulates fat production and storage. The superfluous insulin will cause too much sugar to be stored resulting in low blood sugar. Low blood sugar, in turn, will then cause stress hormone release, depression, fatigue and hunger.

The high fiber in the recommended plant-based diet will actually slow digestion and absorption for a more even blood sugar level. Fiber will also bind with some fat and prevent its absorption. High fiber foods are beneficial for speeding up bowel transit time. This will take some stress off the liver as less toxins will form. The body can then more efficiently metabolize fats.

Foods that slow metabolism are sugars, non-complex carbohydrates and fats. Fats not only have twice the calories, gram for gram, as carbohydrates and proteins, they also use only 2% of their calories to be stored as fat. Protein and complex carbohydrates, however, will burn about 25% of their calories to be stored as fat. For example, if you eat 3,000 calories a day and decrease the percentage of fat from 40% to 20%, then you can loose 1 pound of fat in about 3 weeks-while at the same time eating 20% more food from carbohydrates and protein. The bottom line is EATING FAT MAKES YOU FAT!

For those of you who drink alcohol, listen up. One of the greatest ways to sabotage fat loss is alcohol consumption. Aside from having 7 calories per gram, alcohol will shift metabolism in favor of fat deposition, burdening the liver and stimulating your appetite.

4. Fight fat with fat-Sounds paradoxical, doesn't it? Not all fats make you fat, unless you eat too much. Omega-3 fatty acids can actually increase your metabolic rate. They also rid the body of excess fluids and can increase your energy level. The best source of Omega-3 fatty acids is from fresh organic flax seed or oil available in health foods stores; deep sea fish is another source. Omega-6 fatty acids (especially gamma linolenic acid or GLA) are also essential to health and a healthy metabolism but are less likely to be deficient in a healthy diet. Good sources of GLA and Omega-6 fatty acids are borage seed oil, black current oil and primrose oil.

5. Supplements can increase fat metabolism-Good nutrition is extremely important in maintaining and boosting your metabolism The best nutrition comes from whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and fruits. If you eat processed, non-organic foods, if you lead a stressful life or live in a polluted environment, then it would behoove you to include some supplements that have a positive effect on your metabolism.

Superfoods such as algaes, wheat and barley grasses, and kelp can add special nutrients not always found in a healthy diet or other supplements. The plethora of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids will increase the efficiency of oxidation and raise metabolic rate, energy and activity level. The protein in these superfoods can increase metabolism 30% compared to 10% of a purely carbohydrate meal. Protein will also decrease fatigue often experienced after a low protein lunch or other meal.

Percentage of Calories from Protein

Most fruits 5-8%

Whole grains 10-20%

Legumes 25-30%

Most vegetables 30-50%

Mori-Nu Tofu "Lite" >60%

Proteins are made of amino acids one amino acid that is very important in fat metabolism is carnitine. Carnitine actually carries fatty acids into the cell's "furnace" or mitochondria. Carnitine is especially helpful for vegetarians who may not be getting enough methionine and lysine (carnitine is made from these two amino acids). Taking a gram of carnitine a day can prevent a deficiency.

If your diet is like most Americans, the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), you are likely deficient in chromium and should supplement with about 400 mcg per day. This will help your body loose more fat and retain muscle tissue.

I use CoQ-10, DHEA, Citrimax and other supplements for my clients specific needs fat burning.

6. Some herbs can stoke your metabolic fire. Herbal combinations are currently very popular for increasing thermogenesis. The three main herbs used in a variety of formulas are mahuang (ephedra), guarana or kola nut and white willow bark. Ephedra contains ephedrine; guarana and kola nut contain caffeine; white willow bark contain salicylate like aspirin. These three, in the right proportions, have been shown to increase thermogenesis (heat production) and burn calories. Anyone with high blood pressure, heart problems or other medical problems should consult with their physician before taking these herbs.

Other herbs serve as adaptogens to balance the body's homeostatic systems and help you adapt to stress. These include ginseng (Siberian and Korean), astragulus, gotu kola, schizandra and licorice root.

7. Spices can burn calories and decrease sugar cravings. Some of the spices that increase metabolism are ginger, cayenne pepper and mustard. For example, dry mustard can increase metabolism percent for up to 3 hours with less than 1 teaspoon. In a British study, eating 3/5 teaspoon hot pepper sauce raised the metabolism 25 percent, burning an extra 45 calories in three hours. In an Australian animal test, ginger increased the metabolism 20 percent. The spices that help control blood sugar and sugar cravings are cinnamon, clove and bay leaf. (Note: The minerals chromium and vanadium also help control blood sugar levels and sugar cravings.) Spices and herbs can stimulate the potency of insulin so you require less of the hormone to process sugar, says Richard Anderson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This could be very important for people with Type II diabetes. Anderson's tests found sage and oregano double insulin activity; turmeric and cloves triple the activity; cinnamon is most potent, Dose: amounts common in foods. Cinnamon also may lower blood pressure, according to new research at George Washington University.

8. Water washes away fat. Water is very important in helping to maintain a healthy metabolic rate. Author of The Snowbird Diet, Donald S. Robertson, M.D. states: "incedible as it may seem, water is quite possibly the single most important catalyst in losing weight and keeping it off. Although most of us take it for granted, water may be the only true 'magic' potion for permanent weight loss." He continues explaing how water suppresses appetite, clears toxins, helps mobilize fats etc. he recommends 3 quarts of cold water every day.

High water intake will reduce fat deposits by taking a load off the liver. The liver's main functions are detoxification and metabolism. The kidneys can get rid of toxins and spare the liver if they have sufficient water. This allows the liver to metabolize more fat. Adequate water will also decrease bloating and edema caused by fluid accumulation. Water does this by flushing out sodium and toxins. A high water intake also helps relieve constipation by keeping your stools soft. Simply DRINKING ONE GALLON OF WATER throughout the day, that's cooled to 40 degrees, WILL BURN 300 CALORIES, the equivalent of running three miles.

9. Moderate doses of sunlight increase metabolism. The sun has been getting alot of bad press lately. Actually, sunlight in moderation is very good for the body in a variety of ways, including increasing your metabolism as documented in the excellent book, Sunlight, by Zane Kime, M.D. (World Health Publications, 1980) in it he writes, "There is conclusive evidence that exposure to sunlight produces a metabolic effect in the body very similar to that produced by physical training, and is definitely followed by a measured improvement in physical fitness." In chapter 2 of Sunlight Dr. Kime explains in scientific detail how sunlight increases metabolism, he sites scientific journals and studies.

He also explains in this book how a vegan (no dairy or egg vegetarian diet) diet will greatly decrease the risk of skin cancer.

10. Saunas can burn hundreds of calories in minutes. Dry saunas will give your body an aerobic workout with the cooler infrared saunas burning up to 900 calories in one 30 minute session, according to research. A typical hot air dry sauna will burn approximately 300 calories in 30 minutes at a temperature of 180-235 F. An infrared sauna, on the other hand, will burn approximately 900 calories in the same 30 minutes at only 110-130 F. Infrared energy is used to keep premature babies warm so it is perfectly safe. The reason this low temperature, comfortable sauna burns more than three times as many calories as a conventional dry sauna has to do with its deep heat penetration. It invokes two to three times the sweat volume of a hot air sauna. One gram of sweat requires the body to burn 0.586 Kcal. Like aerobic exercise, your metabolism remains higher for hours after an infrared sauna.

11. Aerobic exercise can increase or decrease metabolism. The best exercise for permanent fat loss is resistance training (lifting weights) because it increases muscle which burns more calories. Low intensity aerobic exercise such as walking is also an excellent way to burn fat efficiently. Furthermore, it will even increase your metabolic rate for hours after exercising. According to Dean Ornish, M.D., in his book Eat More, Weigh Less, intense exercise (beyond your target heart rate) may actually decrease your metabolism in the long run because you burn valuable muscle tissue.

In a study, Dr. John Duncan took 102 sedentary women and divided them into three groups. Each group walked three miles, five days a week for six months. The first group walked 5 mph, the second group 4 mph, and the third group 3 mph. He found that the slowest walking group lost the most weight. Running, or any aerobic exercise that raises heart rate above 80% of maximum (220-age x 0.8) will cause you to burn more muscle and less fat. An exercise heart rate kept closer to 60% of maximum (220-age x 0.6) or 108 beats per minute for a 40 year old person, will burn mostly fat. This is why walking is superior to running as a fat burning exercise. Perhaps the worst problem with excessive exercise is the dropout level. More people will burnout and quit exercise altogether if they overdo it.

12. The time of day you exercise can affect your metabolism. It has been found that the best time to exercise is before a meal simply because exercise suppresses appetite and increases metabolism. If you are interested in losing weight and increasing your metabolism, walk before a meal.

Diets or calorie restriction doesn't work in the long run. Increase your metabolism instead and you'll feel and look better while taking control of your weight.


Dr. Bailey appears regularly on TV and radio talk shows, he as written numerous magazine articles and he travels around the world speaking about optimal wellness of the body, mind and spirit. He also develops personalized wellness programs for individuals, families and corporations.


Dr. Bailey also does consultation worldwide over the phone, mail or by e-mail.


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For more information on losing fat see Dr. Baileys latest book.

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