PT on the Net Research

Slow Metabolism


I have a client who has worked out religiously for the past three months and has increased body fat and inches. I have a feeling her metabolism is very slow. Do you have any suggestions on how to jump-start her metabolism?

Also, do you have any info on the anti-depressant drug, Paxil? She has been on that for a year. I was wondering if that had an impact on her metabolism and her ability to shed pounds.


This situation can be very frustrating for both your client and yourself. Nevertheless, there may be a simplistic process to this dilemma.

First, it is important for your client to understand that there are a few components to losing body fat. Many times, people develop a misconception that exercise gives them a "green light" to eat whatever they chose. As trainers, we need to explain the concept of "energy in, energy out". In order to lose body fat, your client needs to recognize that the amount of calories expended needs to exceed the amount of calories consumed. For a simple explanation on individual caloric needs, I recommend the book "Realities of Nutrition" by Deutsch & Morrill.

It is a fact that many people underestimate their calorie consumption. Do not assume that your client is accurately estimating her caloric intake. Also, altering the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) in her diet may help satiate her in the case that she is over-eating due to hunger. Concurrently, she may be over-eating due to depression or anxiety. You may want to discuss this with your client.

Secondly, resistance training will be critical in helping your client maintain or build her "fat burning" machinery – muscle. If your client’s goal is fat loss, you should incorporate a low to moderate whole body approach utilizing basic movement patterns. Some examples include:

Strengthening essential movements creates carry-over to the other 23 hours in the day in which your client is not with you. The result - MORE CALORIES BURNED!

Lastly, cardiovascular exercise will be imperative for your client to maintain a healthy fitness level, as well as increase her energy output. Research has shown that the body adapts to a cardio mode within six to eight weeks. Therefore, incorporating cross training into her cardio workout will keep the body from adapting to an activity. Keeping the body in an unaccustomed mode both physically and psychologically will be critical to her success.

As far as the drug Paxil (brand of paroxetine hydrochloride), it is an orally administered antidepressant that is used to treat social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (PD). During the pre-marketing evaluation of Paxil, there were subjects who had gained weight, as well as others who had lost weight. Due to the inconsistent effects of Paxil on human metabolism, contacting your client’s physician to discuss the drug would be ideal. If your client has been on the drug Paxil for a year and has just recently gained weight, it is my guess that the drug is not the culprit. However, check with the doctor!

Explaining the importance of your client's diet and exercise program may lead her to success. Review all of the factors explained above and alter the necessary components. Utilizing other professionals such as a nutritionist and your client's physician may be a key to your success in program design.