The American metabolism is sputtering. This past summer, researchers at the University of Florida crunched stacks of government health stats on thousands of Americans and found that during the previous two decades, the number of prediabetics (people with blood sugar so high they may soon become diabetic) had risen from one in 10 to nearly one in five adults. The really startling part: This was among people of normal weight. While their waistlines were average, their metabolisms — the body's system for burning sugar — were stalling.
We may equate diabetes with obesity, but in an age when sitting slumped at a keyboard is the norm and our food supply is drenched in added sugar, even average-weight men who think they're active can be in trouble. "I had a guy come in the other day — normal weight, a jogger — and he said, 'I don't get it, I'm prediabetic?' " says Dr. Tim Church, a metabolism researcher at the Pennington Bio-Medical Institute in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "I get it. He eats a ton of sugar, and he doesn't lift weights." Um, weights? What does that have to do with it? As it turns out, strength training is essential for a healthy metabolism, and it's the crucial piece that many of us may be missing.