Looking to increase your metabolism to lose weight? Don't fall
for these four myths
You've heard it before: "Try this energy
bar/shake/pill/whatever. It'll boost your metabolism!" If you've
ever had trouble losing weight, you might even have ordered
"whatever" off the infomercial. And it probably didn't work.
Messages and offers like these are the reasons many people don't
fully understand metabolism and what it means to weight loss.
Clearing up these misconceptions can put you on a path to boosting
your metabolism for real - no gimmick!
Myth 1: Metabolism is a "thing."
Even when you're sitting in a chair doing nothing, your body is
hard at work-breathing, pumping blood, growing new cells and
regulating hormones. The amount of energy (calories from food) that
your body requires to strictly function is called your basal
metabolic rate, according to g Clinic. Most people just refer to it
as "metabolism," and it's a process rather than a tangible body
part or hormone.
Myth 2: Some people are just lucky and have high
Your basal metabolic rate is based on your height, weight, sex
and age. "That means that two women of the same height, weight and
age are likely to have very similar metabolic rates," says Dawn
Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the
American Dietetic Association.
What can differ - and therefore affect metabolism - is activity
level and amount of muscle. "Activity has a huge impact," Blatner
says. It causes the body to burn calories for energy. The more you
do, the more calories you burn. What does muscle have to do with
it? "Muscle is what we call active tissue," Blatner says. "It
actually causes your body to burn calories even at rest."
Myth 3: Dieting increases metabolism.
Unless you're on a starvation diet, food has little effect on
metabolism. And that starvation diet will
actually slow down your metabolism, not speed it up, in an effort
by your body to cling to every calorie it gets to survive.
The positive effects you can have on metabolism through diet
come through digestion. "When you
eat foods that are whole [not processed], your body burns more
calories simply digesting it," Blatner says. "Also, spicy foods and
a responsible amount of caffeine can help, too."
Myth 4: Metabolism slows down as you age.
OK, this one is only half myth. Age does affect your basal
metabolic rate. And "it can start happening as soon as you stop
growing, so around 20 for women and 25 for men," Blatner says. "But
usually, people only start noticing it around age 30."
But the truth is that your metabolism isn't slowing down simply
because you had another birthday.
As you age, you gradually lose muscle mass, and the less muscle
you have, the fewer calories your body will burn at rest.
The good news is that you don't have to stand by and watch it
happen. "You can fight it," Blatner says, "by doing resistance
training two to three times a week." That includes using weights, a
resistance band or your own body weight, as with push-ups.
By Shelley Flannery