Metabolism, in its simplest sense, is the rate at which your body burns calories. In a broader sense it is complex network of hormones and enzymes responsible for converting food into fuel, while also determining how efficiently you burn that fuel. Many people think of metabolism as how easily they lose or gain weight.

Surprising to many is that the largest component of your metabolism, approximately 70%, is your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR determines how many calories are needed just to keep you alive and functioning. It is the energy used by your body to perform basic functions, such as breathing, brain health, keeping the heart beating and maintaining body temperature. For example, your brain requires approximately 109 calories per pound and weighs approximately three pounds. This means that 327 calories per day are required to maintain your brain. Other examples include your heart and kidneys, which require 200 calories per pound (approximate weight of an adult human heart is 5/8 of a pound; approximate weight of kidneys is ¼ of a pound). Your BMR decreases as you age and differs from person to person. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is often used interchangeably with basal metabolic rate (BMR), though they are slightly different.

What influences my BMR?
Age – metabolism decreases five percent per decade after age 40
Amount of lean muscle – Muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. (For every pound of muscle you burn approximately 6 calories versus a pound of fat, which burns approximately 2 calories).
Gender – Males generally have a 10 to 15% faster BMR than females, as the male body has a larger percentage of lean muscle tissue.
Heredity – metabolic rate can be inherited from previous generations
Thyroid disorder – hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can slow down or speed up metabolism (these conditions occur in only 3 and .3 percent of the population)

How do I calculate my RMR?
To calculate your RMR, use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (may be more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation)

RMR = 9.99w + 6.25s – 4.92a + 166g-161
w = weight in kilograms; if you know your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms
s = height in centimeters (1 foot = 30.48 centimeters, 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters);
a = age in years
g = gender = 1 for males, 0 for females
For example, the equation for a 30 year old, 120 lb, 5’4 woman would be as follows:
9.99(54.54) + 6.25(162.5) – 4.92(30)+ 166(0)-161 = 1251.80

This means that this woman requires approximately 1251.8 calories to maintain her body’s vital functions and her weight at rest.

The Eating Disorder Connection: Bringing it all Together
Often people with eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa, restrict their caloric intake to below 1000 calories or even 500 calories per day. As illusrated in the example above, this is not even enough calories to maintain their basic body functions. Over time, if this calorie deficit continues, one’s body will begin shutting down.

Also, our bodies are very intelligent and if a continued calorie deficit is percieved, our metabolism will slow down to compensate for this deficit, meaning we are burning less calories than prior to the restriction. This starts a vicious cycle for someone with disordered eating behavior, as the result is that one usually has to restrict even more. There is hope though, after resuming a balanced diet sufficient to meet one’s caloric needs, one’s metabolism will also adjust once the threat of starvation is no longer present and your body begins to trust that it is getting the necessary nutrients.

When Eating Becomes a Problem

An eating disorder might seem humorous. Have you ever joked that you could “eat everything on this table?” For some people, though, overeating is no laughing matter. Overeating and binge eating disorders are complex illnesses that can be life-threatening. As a Santa Barbara psychologist, I have seen how they can completely overwhelm patients’ lives and wreak havoc on their bodies.

Although both issues are generally labeled as eating disorders, there are some differences between insatiable hunger and binge eating disorder. With insatiable hunger, patients feel like they are always hungry, no matter how recently or how much food they have eaten. Although there may be some type of physical cause for this feeling, it can also stem from anxiety. It could be based on feelings of low self-esteem, or might represent insatiable needs which were not met by parents or significant others. Therapy for anxiety can often uncover these underlying causes and alleviate the feeling of continual hunger.

According to The Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders, a binge eating disorder usually involves periodic occasions where sufferers will go on an eating binge and consume a large quantity of food in a short period of time. They feel like they have no control over their actions. Sufferers continue taking in food until they are uncomfortably full, and do not take any voluntary steps to purge the food from their bodies. Binge eating may be used as a means of hiding from emotions, filling a void inside, or coping with stresses and problems. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), it can manifest with a sense of depression about the overall situation and loss of control. Depression counseling may be one step in understanding why these patients feel so sad that they look to unhealthy eating habits for comfort.

In either case, long-term afflictions with the disorder can lead to serious health issues. The patient will likely be overweight and may suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases associated with overeating. For these sufferers, it is not as simple as going on a diet or working with a nutritionist to learn about healthy eating habits. They may need to see a psychologist for depression in order to work through their feelings of despair and to understand the unhealthy role food is playing in their lives.

Understanding Insatiable Hunger and Binge Eating Disorder

It can be difficult to accept the fact that you no longer have a healthy relationship with food. You may try to forget any episodes of unhealthy eating, and may attempt to hide any evidence. You may push away others who try to show concern or offer help. The first step in overcoming any type of disorder is realizing that you are acting in a way that is not healthy for your mind or your body. Some questions which might help determine if you or someone you love are dealing with insatiable hunger or a binge eating disorder include:

  • Do you recognize when you are full and are you capable of stopping eating?
  • Do you feel like you are always hungry, even after a physician has ruled out any possible medical causes?
  • Do you often eat more in comparison to others at the same meal?
  • Do you try to hide your eating, or evidence of how much you have eaten?
  • What are your eating habits like now compared to what they were a year or two ago?
  • How much food do you eat in a typical day?
  • Have your sleep patterns been interrupted by your eating habits?
  • How quickly do you eat?
  • How do you feel emotionally about the way you eat?
  • Have your eating habits affected your relationships with others?
  • To what extent is your life controlled by your eating?
  • Do you have secret “stashes” of food in various locations?

Your answers to these questions don’t necessarily indicate that you have an eating disorder, but they provide helpful guidelines. If you think there is cause for concern, it is always best to check with a medical doctor and a Santa Barbara therapist to confirm your suspicions. 

Overcoming an Insatiable Hunger or Binge Eating Disorder

The first thing to understand if you think you are dealing with an eating disorder is that you are not alone. There are many people in situations similar to yours, many people who can help you, and many people that love you. When you come to me for help with managing anxiety and/or your eating disorder I spend time getting to know you so we can explore the emotional roots of your condition together.

In addition to psychotherapy, I may recommend a consultation with your medical doctor to discuss antidepressants or other medication to help you deal with the emotional turmoil you are experiencing. It may also be helpful to seek alternative therapies to relieve stress and tension. The Deep Tissue Massage Center specializes in Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage which promotes full body stress relief, healthy function of muscle tissues, and speeds recovery. Points of Health Acupuncture helps you rejuvenate, relax, balance, and heal. Together we’ll help you regain control of your life.

If you feel you are being controlled by insatiable hunger or a binge eating disorder, contact my office immediately to set up a session, and let me help you find a path to a better life.

Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke
The Santa Barbara Therapist


About If you feel you need therapy for depression to help you overcome an insatiable hunger or binge


Psychotherapy can have benefits and risks. Therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, which may cause uncomfortable feelings like sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. It is not unusual to experience a period of increased emotional distress, as you will be exploring and addressing issues that you have previously worked hard to defend against. Successful psychotherapy has been shown to lead to better interpersonal relationships, solutions to specific problems, and an increased ability to regulate and tolerate states of emotional distress.

There are many reasons people choose psychotherapy.

If you find yourself struggling to deal with one of the issues below, you don’t have to suffer in silence and you shouldn’t have to manage alone.

Below are some helpful links:




Eating Disorders/Body Dysmorphia

Relationship/Interpersonal difficulties

Obsessive Compulsive Behavior


Addiction (substance abuse, etc.)

Grief and Loss

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual

Transgender Issues

Sexual Identity Issues: Gender Identity Disorder

Pervasive Developmental Disorders (AutismAsperger’s Disorder)

Marital distress

Sexual/Physical Abuse


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Alcoholism and Addiction – Santa Barbara Counseling Resources

Alcoholism and addiction are tricky diseases. They are very complicated to understand, and many people who have never been through them might never understand them. For people suffering from alcoholism and addiction, there are resources in Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas that can help. While AA and NA are great programs, not everyone will benefit from the ‘anonymous’ group camaraderie that these programs promote. Some people will do better with private counseling, while others will  need an inpatient program or intensive treatment facility to help them out.

If the addiction is too severe, there are medically supervised treatment programs that patients can attend in the surrounding Santa Barbara areas. This is important because there are a couple of drug addictions that have worse withdrawals than any of the effects that occur while taking the drug. Also, it is well known in the professional rehabilitation community that alcoholism is one of the few diseases where the withdrawal can actually kill you faster than the disease itself. Therefore, there are instances where medical supervision is necessary for alcoholism and addiction recovery, and the resources are out there for the people who need them.

Santa Barbara alcoholism and addiction resources are not all created equally. Some people will find a certain program or therapist to serve them better than others. Therefore, whether you are seeking treatment solutions for yourself or someone in your life, you need to make sure that the solution fits the person. If you’re not a group person, you will probably fare better in one-on-one treatment. If seeing other people and knowing their struggles are similar helps you make it through the day, a group treatment program might be effective. It’s all about finding what works for the person who is undergoing alcoholism or addiction treatment or counseling.

Alcoholism and addiction are serious mental and physical diseases that are about much more than the drugs and the alcohol. Professional rehabilitation specialists and counselors understand that there are underlying issues and the drugs and alcohol are only symptoms of the condition. People need to be sure to find resources that are trained in alcoholism and addiction recovery specifically so that they can get the best possible treatment that there is. Make sure that you take the time to check out all the options that you have and figure out what works best for your needs or the needs of the person that you are finding help for.

About The Author: For over 10 years, Dr. Adina has been studying drug addiction relapse, self injurious behaviors, alcoholism and addiction.  For more information, please visit

Drug Addiction Relapse – Helpful Resources are Out There

When you are dealing with a drug addiction relapse, you don’t have to go through it alone. If you are ready to get help and try a different path to recovery, there are Santa Barbara drug addiction resources that can help. Too often, people think that their drug addiction relapse means that they cannot recover fully, but that is not the case. Anyone who wants to get better can get better. You just need to find the resources that work for you and provide you with the drug treatment that you need. Everyone has a different idea of what will work for them, and you need to figure out what is best for you.

Some people can stop on their own or with the simple help of an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) program. Others will need therapy, treatment programs, or hospitalization to help them overcome their drug addiction relapse. It depends entirely on the person in question, and anyone who is suffering from a drug addiction reserves the right to choose what will work best for their specific needs. There is no limit to the types of programs that people can find, which is why it is important to do some research and see what is out there.

Santa Barbara drug addiction relapse therapy and treatment programs are designed for all kinds of people. As long as you can find a professional, reputable therapist or treatment program that you can feel comfortable with, that’s all that matters. You should also check out financial obligations, of course, because there are some programs that are more flexible about payment than others. If you’re paying for any or all of your drug addiction relapse treatment out of pocket, this can be critical to your treatment success.

If you are seeking drug addiction relapse treatment options for a friend or family member, you have to be certain that they’re ready to take this step. As much as people like to think that they are important enough to get the person to stop, an addict can only stop using for themselves and will not be successful until they want a better life for themselves, no matter how badly you want to help them. Understand that unless the person is open to treatment, your search is going to be quite fruitless. All in all, drug addiction relapse is not a life sentence and there are treatment options out there for the people who want them.

About The Author: If you are seeking a Santa Barbara therapist that goes beyond prescription drug addiction treatment, you may wish to inquire with a Santa Barbara counseling expert at