Most people have some idea of what the metabolism is, but there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the metabolism.
We hear a lot of people blame the fat they have gained or their inability to gain weight due to their metabolism, but there is a a lot more than meets the eye.
Metabolism is the process by which our body is constantly creating or using energy to build up or breaking down molecules and tissues. This means everything from breathing to getting out of bed in the morning is powered by our metabolism.
A quicker metabolism does burn through fuel in a higher rate, and a slower metabolism requires less fuel (calories) to keep your body running.
Before you feel doomed because you think you have a slow metabolism you should know there are things you can do to improve your metabolism, but it may not be the things that you think.
There are a lot of myths about our metabolism are important to know. In this blog we will covering the top 5 Myths about the metabolism.
1. You Are Stuck With Your Metabolism
While it is true that some of your metabolic rate is determined by your genetics, many lifestyle factors that you have control of contribute largely to the speed of your metabolism. One of the best things you can do to boost your metabolic rate is to build muscle mass.
Muscle mass is very dense in the cellular powerhouses (mitochondria) which convert energy into usable energy. The more muscle mass you have the more energy your body burns in the form of calories to maintain that muscle.
It is true that muscle mass tends to decrease with age, but you are able to counteract this by lifting weights on a regular basis to maintain or build muscle.
Sleep is one of the most important factors for building muscle,losing body fat and helping the body recover from stressors.
Sleep deprivation decreases the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, and you will tend to exhibit greater hunger with less willpower around foods. Late night ice cream anyone ?
Protein consumption is also important, as it aids in the building up of tissues but specifically provides the building blocks for muscles to repair and grow to accommodate the stress of strength training and exercise.
I’m not talking extreme levels of protein intake but somewhere between 0.8 - 1.3 grams per pound of bodyweight.
2. Eating Late At Night Makes You Gain Fat
For years everyone has heard don’t eat past 8pm if you are trying to lose weight, because your metabolism slows down past a certain time at night. In reality your metabolism doesn’t slow down until you are asleep.
There are a number of factors such as your energy expenditure, hormones, food quality and macronutrient breakdown that determines whether a food gets turned into fat or not.
I don’t know about you but I have never heard of anyone staying up late at night to eat an entire tray of kale chips, it’s the cookies, ice cream and other poor quality foods that people go to when they are up late.
Shift the focus from the time of night that you are eating to the quality and volume of food that you are eating. Ice cream at lunch is just as likely to make you gain fat as ice cream before bed.
Make sure you are not mindlessly eating processed foods because it is late at night and you are bored. Eating a high quality meal late at night is no worse for you than eating that meal at any other time throughout the day.
Some people do notice that digestively they feel better when they don’t eat before bed but that has little to do with gaining fat and more about not being uncomfortable when they go to bed.
3. Smaller More Frequent Meals Boosts Your Metabolism
Everyone has heard the advice that you can elevate your metabolism by eating smaller more frequent meals like a fire you need to keep putting fuel on to keep it burning.
It turns out it doesn’t matter how many meals you have throughout the day to your body or metabolism.
The impact of six smaller meals is the exact same as two much larger meals on the metabolism assuming the calories and macronutrient breakdown of the foods remains the same. The total numbers for the day are what matter most not meal to meal.
Eating every three to fours is popular because it allows people to have better control of their hunger and cravings.
Instead of waiting until you are ravenous to eat making sure to eat at more regular times helps people to keep a better routine and make better portion /food choices.
There are people who will benefit from having the smaller more frequent meals such as those with blood sugar, adrenal or digestive problems or some people who are prone to intense food cravings.
For most other folks though the focus should be on the quantity and quality of the foods they are consuming. Whether you eat 1,000 calories of steak in one sitting or spread throughout the day it has the same effect.
4. Skipping Breakfast Slows Your Metabolism
People have long been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it kick starts the metabolism.
There have been multiple studies that looked at those who ate breakfast compared to those who didn’t, they found it had no impact on the resting metabolic rates of all the subjects.
A lot of the evidence for eating breakfast was due to a past study that showed those who ate breakfast weighed less than those who skipped breakfast.
What wasn’t included in the study was the fact that people who regularly skipped breakfast engaged in much unhealthier habits overall which contributed to their weight.
There is nothing magical or particularly special about breakfast. However if you stick to protein, fats and vegetables at breakfast and ditch cereals and bagels your capacity to keep burning fat will be greater.
5. You Can OutSmart Your Metabolism By Just Eating Less
The problem with trying to outsmart the metabolism and eat below the basic needs is when the body slows the metabolism to save energy, and you burn fewer calories throughout the day.
In this stage fat loss becomes a lot more difficult because you are burning less calories while resting, but also while you are at the gym training or going for a walk.
You assume not losing means you need to eat less, so you decrease the calories even further. As a result energy, libido and sleep suffer because you do not have enough energy to meet basic needs.
Your body recognizes the shortage of energy and knows this would be a poor time to have offspring so your sex hormones are decreased and the stress hormone cortisol disrupts your normal circadian rhythm for sleep.
When people race their metabolism to the bottom eating less and less it ends up a disaster and you can cause damage to your health on multiple levels.
In reality you need to take some time eating more high quality food or incorporate a weekly spike in calories to let the body know that times are still good, and you are healthy.
There is no magic bullet when it comes to raising your metabolic rate, you won’t find your answers in one particular meal or bottle.
Focus on eating enough good quality foods on a daily basis split into as many meals as you would like and fits your schedule.
Lift weights with the goal of build muscle mass, and make sure to get enough sleep to allow for that muscle to build and repair. Consume enough protein and calories to support muscle growth ands recovery from intense exercise.
Make sure to eat enough carbohydrates and fats to support a healthy hormonal profile and a well functioning thyroid which translates into a healthy metabolism.
If you find yourself reaching for food late at night ask yourself if you are actually hungry or just bored. Realize it’s not the time of day/night you consume a food that matters but the quality and quantity.
The goal is to eat as much food as possible while still losing fat, look at other areas of your life like sleep, stress management and your non exercise physical activity throughout the day to maximize instead of immediately eating less food right away.
Once you have all those lifestyle factors in a routine pick a few days where you are less active and create small deficit by eating a little less and adjust based on your goals and how you look, feel and perform.
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These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.