Metabolism – Myths and Facts
Posted: Sep 21, 2017
Every individual has a different body composition, hence a different metabolism. Energy needed by the body to survive and function comes from the food that we eat. The process by which our body converts food to energy is known as Metabolism. Metabolism impacts each and every act of our body. A fast metabolism uses calories very quickly whereas a slow metabolism uses very few calories. Generally, it is slow metabolism which is blamed for weight related issues. However there are ways to boost your metabolism and maintain optimal health and weight.
There are many myths and facts spinning around metabolism. It has been a topic of hot discussion. However, with all the fad diets intended to speed up one’s metabolism, the facts often get distorted with fiction. We help you sort out the fact from the fiction here.
Myth 1: Metabolic rate cannot change
Fact: While it's true that genetics help determine our metabolic rates, we can boost our metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories compared to fat, which directly states that people with lean, high muscle mass need more calories to function than people with a higher percentage of body fat. Our muscle mass decreases as we age, and this contributes to a slower metabolic rate. This process can be counteracted by:
- Incorporating strength training which increases muscle mass and thus helps increase the metabolic rate
- Getting enough sleep and rest so that you feel energetic and have good productivity the next day. Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep and rest also slows down your metabolism. Also, individuals who are sleep-deprived tend to eat more at night especially carbohydrate rich foods. So, more sleep is important for a healthier metabolism.
Simple dietary modifications and physical activity can make big changes in how fast someone can utilise calories at rest.
Myth 2: Green tea & spicy foods will boost metabolism
Fact: A study found that caffeinated green tea improved weight loss and maintenance but there are other studies that do not show this effect. Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition stated that decaffeinated green tea extract could potentially help people to lose weight, however, one would need to drink 6-7 cups a day and also exercise to see the benefits. And for people suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or anxiety it would be advisable to consult a doctor before you brew the first cup of the caffeinated tea.
Similarly, eating spicy foods can also bump up the metabolism a little. However, the bump isn’t significant enough to constitute weight loss.
So, the fact still remains that exercise and eating a balanced diet packed with nutrients is the key to weight loss
Myth 3: Slow metabolism is the result of eating late night meals.
Facts: Late night eating has always been blamed for weight gain. But, it is not the late night snacking – rather the extra calories that lead to weight gain. Factors like hormones, food quality and energy expenditure impacts how our body stores fuel. There is little scientific evidence to back the claim that eating late at night causes weight gain. It is actually the mindless eating throughout the day - especially eating calories higher than energy expenditure that can lead to weight gain. Rather than being concerned about the time of eating, one should be more concerned about the total calorie intake vs the expenditure.
Myth 4: Starvation or low calorie diets can contribute to weight loss
Facts: As discussed earlier, creating an energy deficit leads to weight loss. This means ingesting fewer calories than the total body energy expenditure. Eating frequent and small meals with quantity and quality of food in check helps many people keep hunger level and cravings in control. This makes sure the intake of calories is in check. Often, low calorie diets and starvation have rebound effects on weight loss and hence additionally slow down the metabolism. This happens when on a low calorie or a starvation diet the body goes into a starvation mode and refuses to let go of the fat since the body is programmed for survival.
Myth 5: Overweight and obese individuals have a lower metabolism
Facts: The findings of a study carried out in the UK suggest that the gene KSR2 does play some role in people’s obesity and lower metabolic rates. However, it is not responsible for all cases of obesity. Other genes and environmental factors may also have an impact on obesity. So, there is little you can do about the genes that you are born with, but a change in the lifestyle and other environmental factors is definitely what you can work on. An increase in the lean muscle will help keep your metabolism alive and kicking.
Finally, there are certain conditions which can slow the body metabolism like going on and off "fad diets" or health conditions like hypothyroidism, pcod, etc. However, a good diet plan provided by weight loss centers in Mumbai can help you in weight loss if you have been struggling to knock off the excess weight. To get the most accurate and scientific information please contact the best dietitians in Mumbai to achieve your weight loss goals.
Arati Shah is an astute nutritionist having expertise in all types nutrition, she is one of the top 10 dietitians in Mumbai who can also guide one through corporate wellness programs with same efficacy