Anyone who has ever thought about their weight has probably also thought about their metabolism. Metabolism is the amount of calories burned by the body to support itself and the daily activities it performs. Some people have a high metabolism and they burn calories quickly with seemingly little effort, while others have a much slower metabolism and seem to gain weight just by looking at food. Because metabolism is the foundation of how we gain and lose weight, society has come up with many myths about how our metabolisms work.
Myth 1: You can boost your metabolism by just eating one large meal per day. This is false. To increase metabolism, you should actually eat several small meals each day. The reason the small meals benefit your metabolism is because eating several times a day maintains blood glucose levels, which can stave off hunger cravings and lower the amount of calories you take in every day. Eating one large meal a day can cause your body to go into starvation mode at other times of the day and therefore store more fat when you do eat. Because the body has excess fat, eating one large meal a day can actually cause weight gain instead of weight loss.
Myth 2: When you lose weight your metabolism speeds up. This is false. Your metabolism actually slows down by an estimated 2 -10 calories per day for each pound of fat lost. If you lose 10 pounds, you will need to decrease your calorie intake by approximately 100 calories to keep the weight off.
Thin vs. Fat
Myth 3: Thin people have a faster metabolism than those that are overweight. This is false. Overweight people have a faster metabolism because their bodies require more energy to run sufficiently, which means more calories are burned for the same tasks as someone who is thinner.
Myth 4: You can increase your metabolism by eating carbohydrates. This is false. The body utilizes more energy to digest protein than carbohydrates. In fact, protein requires almost double the calories in digestion as carbohydrates.
Myth 5: Your metabolism increases by eating spicy foods. This is true and false–your metabolism can speed up by 20% when you eat spicy foods, however, it is not a lasting increase. Shortly after the spices have been eaten, your metabolism will return to its normal rate.
Women vs. Men
Myth 6: Men and women have the same metabolism. This is false. Men generally have a higher metabolic rate because their bodies have more muscle. Women have less lean muscle, and therefore burn fewer calories, making their metabolism slower than a man’s. Muscle is the key factor in a faster metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat, therefore strength training is an important factor in increasing metabolism and losing weight.
While there are many myths about how to increase your metabolism, the core facts of metabolism are based on muscle mass. Most every other trick to increase your metabolism is a temporary fix, and won’t establish long lasting effects. Incorporate strength training in your workout routine to speed up your metabolism, regardless of your age.