Boosting Your Metabolism: Myths vs. Facts

Anyone who is trying to lose weight will be trying to watch their metabolism levels or increase their metabolism. Metabolism is the energy-burning machine in our bodies that helps us to burn calories. There are many myths about metabolism that dieters cling to, hoping this will help them fuel their dreams of a skinnier life. But they aren’t always accurate.

Metabolism is the bodily function that converts your food into the energy that you need to function throughout the day, but it is even working when you are sleeping. Still, if you are hoping for some metabolism boosters to lose weight, you’ll want to arm yourself with metabolism myths vs. facts to ensure your dieting plans go as you hope. Learn more about metabolism myths vs. facts right here.

Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism is the process whereby our bodies convert food into an energy source. We need energy to do everything during the day. When you eat right, you have more energy to do the things that you need to do during the day. Metabolism is not a specific chemical product in the body, but it is something your body does, like breathing.

It matters because our bodies consume energy according to the foods that we eat. We need metabolism for everything. We need it to breathe, and we need it to chew and digest food. For every function that your body performs, it needs energy. Your body will use metabolism to take the food that you eat, and then use it wisely for your bodily functions.

We can understand this by using simple calculations, as your metabolic rate is something that can be determined. Two factors that determine this are Basal Metabolic Rate and Total Energy Expenditure. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the rate where you add your weight and height, multiply it with a preset number, and then subtract your age. This is also known as your resting metabolic rate.

When you perform this calculation, you will learn how many calories you should consume daily to perform all of your metabolic functions. So you are typically going to see a number between 1 and 2,000 calories. The BMR is how many calories you consume. If you consume more, you may gain weight, less and you may lose weight. There are many BMR calculators online that can help you to determine your magic number.

The TEE, or total energy expenditure, also known as the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is a measure of how many calories you burn in a day by just breathing or performing daily tasks. It will use your BMR, your activity level, and the thermic effect of your diet to calculate your TEE. You can use TEE calculators online as well in order to determine or estimate how many calories you are burning every day.

Maintaining a healthy weight and staying healthy is key to every wellness program, and key to treating many conditions such as diabetes or heart problems. Understanding your BMR and TEE can help you to control the calories you consume so that you consume good calories, and burn them wisely. When you take control of your weight management in a healthy way, you will be able to maintain weight. You can use these calculators to lose weight, but maintaining a healthier weight is an easier and healthier goal to focus on.

a graphic depiction of fat and metabolism

Common Metabolism Myths

There are many myths about metabolism out there that lead dieters astray. When you are trying to pick through metabolism myths vs. facts, you want to look for credible information that is backed by experts and science. One of the beautiful things about metabolism is that it is a scientific process that can be managed using science. Follow the science to debunk some of the most common myths about metabolism compared to metabolism facts right here.

Thin People Have High Metabolism

It is a myth that thin people have high metabolism. Although metabolism is determined by weight, thinner people won’t have higher metabolisms all the time. More calories are burned using metabolic functions when someone has more muscle mass. Thinner people by definition do not have as much muscle mass as larger people with higher metabolic rates. Most studies on this will show that weight training exercises will help you to boost your metabolism and base metabolic rate at the long term level, over cardio exercise.

Breakfast Boost Metabolism

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that isn’t because of metabolism. Some people do say though that eating breakfast helps to burn more calories. The truth is that breakfast is important because it gives you the energy that you need to start the day in a healthy way. You are thinking more clearly and can focus on daily tasks easier.

Some studies have examined this however to determine that breakfast isn’t the be-all when it comes to boosting metabolism. One study found that over a 24-hour period, there was no difference at all with BMR for people who did not eat breakfast. Additionally, skipping breakfast may lead to more calories consumed later in the day, and this could also impact your BMR.

Eat More Often, Metabolize More Often

There is a myth that eating more meals that are smaller will help you to lose weight. There may be some truth to that for some people, but it has nothing to do with metabolism. Eating more and smaller meals will help you to keep your energy going and prevent temptations more often. This could help you to lose weight.

But your metabolism is determined by other factors. Your BMR will not speed up throughout the day unless it is low on a regular basis. The thermic effect of food is the process where our body uses energy to process and store nutrients. Our metabolism is proportional to how often we eat and what we eat. Numerous studies have looked at what can be done about this myth. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has concluded there just isn’t evidence there to support this theory.

Spicy Foods Can Make You Thin

There is a common myth that eating spicy foods will spike your metabolism and help you to lose weight. The science just isn’t there on this one though, at least not for the long term. Metabolic rate is a function of daily activity. If you eat spicy food every day, you may stand a chance with this one but it is not a realistic way to boost your metabolism.

The metabolic changes that are the result of spicy food are negligible if at all. They may pick up your metabolism slightly for an hour or so, but this rate increase does not last. When you are hoping for your metabolism to kick in after some Thai or Indian food, you may be disappointed. Try other ways to increase metabolism, particularly if these are foods you do not even enjoy.

Age Impacts Metabolic Rate

It is a common myth that you have a high metabolism when you are younger, and a low metabolism when you are older. Again, there is a wide body of evidence to indicate that this is not always the case. While age is a variable in determining BMR, there are other variables as well, including existing weight and basic thermal factors.

One study looked at the BMR of infants and toddlers, examining the myth that young people burn energy faster. It was found that newborns and infants were metabolizing energy at the same rate as their mothers, regardless of the age of the mothers in the study. This claim that your age has an impact does not have merit and is not backed by science.

Metabolism Facts

When you are trying to determine metabolism myths vs. facts, there are many studies that can help. One widely reported study noted that the easiest way to determine facts about metabolism was by examining different stages of life, and not the ages of life. This study published in Science showed there were four different areas or stages in life where metabolic energy was defined.

Other studies concur with this and have also suggested that there are specific ways the body uses energy. Understanding these ways is key to understanding how your own metabolic rates work. Your BMR will not fluctuate much from day to day, but how you consume energy will. When you have high metabolism, your body will burn energy quickly. When you have a slow metabolism, your body burns energy slowly. There are factors that go into determining how to increase metabolism.

Muscle Mass Impact on Metabolism

When you have more muscle, you will burn more calories. Work on weight-bearing exercises to help you to strengthen your existing muscles. You don’t need to give them power lifter status. But if you make your muscles stronger, your BMR will go up.

How to Boost Metabolism

There is a lot of scientific data that corroborates the theory that burning energy will increase your metabolic rate. Bring more physical activity into your daily activity and your metabolism will increase. That is because you are consuming more energy, which is what burns calories. The more energy you burn, the higher your metabolism will just need to be.

It’s a Family Thing

There is something to be said about the theory that metabolism runs in the family. You may see a family that is heavier or a family where most of the members are thin. This could be a little bit of nurture as well in the nature versus nurture debate, as families will tend to eat the same way. Still, genetics do play a role in determining your overall BMR and TEE. They will also play a role in whether you can build muscle mass and use it to burn calories.

Practical Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

When you are trying to beat metabolism myths vs. facts, the single most important piece of advice you can take is to engage in more physical activity. Be as active as you can if you want your metabolic rate to go up at any age. You also want to stay healthy with your eating, and eat as much as you can. Allow your body to use the fuel you put into it daily and frequently, without having it rely on existing fuel reserves.

When your body reverts to existing fuel reserves, your overall energy levels and activity levels will suffer. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of calories and energy that can help to improve your metabolic rate. Other things that you can do to increase metabolism include quitting smoking. You may find metabolism slowing down slightly, but you will also find that you feel better overall which is an important part of wellness.

Fight Metabolism Blues

Fight the metabolism blues by informing yourself on what is the truth about metabolism. There are many things that will speed up your metabolism, with physical activity being the most important element of that. Having healthy muscles that are strong and functioning will also help you to have a high metabolism. Fast metabolism is real, but you do have to work at it a little bit.

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Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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