Growing up, you may have heard a lot about metabolism, but really had no idea what it entailed. Most average women aren't well-versed on the subject, which is probably why there are so many myths about metabolism that need to be dismissed. It's not exactly a topic we learn in school, and it's not something we can easily gauge about ourselves, so it's no surprise that there a number of misconceptions when it comes to talking about metabolism.
"Our metabolism is basically our body converting food into energy," says Dr. Candice Seti, psychologist, personal trainer, and nutrition coach over email. "When people talk about a fast or slow metabolism, they are really referring to how many calories your body burns during this process to fuel your body's basic needs — this is also known as your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Some people have a higher RMR than others, and this is due to a lot of individual factors such as weight, body composition (fat [versus] lean muscle tissue), and gender."
Instead of listening to rumors or believing everything you read on the internet, it's time to get your facts straight about having a fast metabolism. Here are seven myths that finally need to be put to rest.
1. Eating Small Meals Speeds Up Your Metabolism
"The idea of eating a meal every three to four hours to ramp up ones metabolism isn't the best advice," says Cara Walsh, R.D. of Medifast California over email. "How frequently someone eats has little to do with the speed of their metabolism. Instead of frequency of meals and snacks, focus on the quantity and quality of the food you consume." One study from the British Journal of Nutrition found that when overweight dieters ate either three or six meals a day, with the same total number of calories, they lost the same amount of weight.
2. Everything Eaten At Night Turns To Fat
"Avoid eating late at night" is one of the most popular pieces of nutrition advice, but again, it's not about when you're eating, but how much you're consuming throughout the day and the quality of food you're ingesting. In fact, research from Florida State University found that eating a small bed time snack can actually boost your metabolic function — just make sure it's something healthy, of course.
3. Your Metabolism Slows Down As You Age
Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn't plummet when you get older. It does drop by two percent or more per decade, according to the Washington Post, but this is usually due to loss of muscle mass — when you're 60, you're much less likely to be as muscular as you were when you were 25.
4. Certain Foods Can Change Your Metabolism
We've heard that foods such as hot peppers or green tea can help speed up your metabolism, and although that's true, it's by a small amount, sometimes as low as two percent, according to research from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This, unfortunately, won't have an effect on your overall metabolism, as the impact is so minimal.
5. "Skinny" People Have A Fast Metabolism
"Many people know a person who is skinny and can eat whatever they want without gaining weight and assume that person has a fast metabolism," says Walsh. "But according to research, skinnier individuals almost always have a slower resting metabolism." The amount of calories burned daily is actually most closely related to your lean body mass, which includes muscles, bones, and organs, according to research from the journal Nature.
6. Eating Breakfast Jumpstarts Your Metabolism
Although eating breakfast can help you feel more energetic and alert throughout the day, it's not going to work any magic on your metabolism. A study from the Journal of American Nutrition found that eating breakfast had no impact on subjects' metabolic rate.
7. You're Stuck With What You've Got
"While genes certainly do have an effect on a person's metabolism, one can boost their metabolic rate by increasing lean muscle mass, as muscle burns more calories per hour than fat," says Walsh. This means exercising and building muscle can help effectively rev up your metabolic rate.
At the end of the day, if you try to eat well and exercise, the better you will feel, and the healthier your metabolism will be.
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