The elusive metabolism everyone’s been talking actively about for the last ten years is an interesting subject, since it involves so many processes in our bodies. And since it has a lot to do with the way energy is spent and converted from food, the fitness industry simply couldn’t stay away conducting research as well as spawning myths about metabolism along the way. Here are some real cold facts about metabolism.
Real Metabolism Facts
Metabolism Is Genetic
Metabolism is determined by your genetics first and foremost. Then various things factor in. They include thyroid function, age, size, lean body mass, lifestyle, and different other variables. They all affect your metabolism, and they can be manipulated to improve it. Certain ‘metabolism-boosting’ foods like hot peppers and green tea, however, will only give you just a small temporary effect that wouldn’t make a significant change that could be maintained in any healthy way, meaning you won’t be able to get away eating more calories than you need. Exercise boosts metabolic rate in a much more significant and efficient way.
More Lean Body Mass Means Higher Metabolism
Since body composition determines metabolism in a great way, men tend to have higher metabolic rate than women. Fit people have it higher than unfit people who have more fat than lean body mass. So it’s not that thin people have higher metabolic rate because they’re thin. It’s probably because their lean body mass is higher than that of overweight people. Hence, you can improve your metabolism by simply reducing fat tissue and building up muscle through exercise and proper diet, but don’t expect miracles. You won’t be able to consume that many more calories. And you should also account for other factors like a thyroid function, height, and lifestyle in general.
Skipping Meals Won’t Slow Metabolism
For a long time skipping meals was considered a diet mistake that most definitely leads to slow metabolism, starvation mode, and everything that follows. In fact, dieters who have a problem sticking with their diet are advised to eat more often and not to skip meals simply because of a psychological factor. The hungrier you are, the less self-control you’re likely to exercise while eating. For some, hunger is simply unacceptable and psychologically taxing.
In actuality, skipping meals doesn’t kick off starvation mode. Body needs time to adjust and recalibrate, so unless you’re eating a diet that is severely low on calories for weeks, your body won’t come even close to getting into a starvation mode. You’ll just feel a bit more uncomfortable because you skipped a meal and you’re feeling hungry.
Eating At Night Won’t Make You Fat
Unless you are eating more calories than you’re burning, eating at night won’t do much of a difference. Some studies even show that eating before bed can help promote body recovery.
Eating 6 Times A Day Won’t Increase Metabolism
Gasp! But everybody tells you to eat as often as every two hours to keep your fragile metabolism from crashing. Well, there is no difference between eating 3 or 6 meals per day. Again it’s psychologically easier for people who tend to overeat to stick with their diet when they are allowed to eat more often. If eating 6 times a day seems like a chore to you, however, simply consolidate those meals into nice three bigger ones and enjoy life. TEF (Thermogenic Effect of Food) doesn’t depend on frequency of meals.
Metabolism Slows With Age Only If You Let It
So we have established that we can manipulate things that determine or affect metabolism. We can build muscle, be sure to get enough sleep and protein, and also exercise. So how does age affect metabolism? Remember that we keep losing muscle in a process called sarcopenia that occurs with age? Well, that is your answer. If you maintain muscle, you maintain your metabolic rate. The more muscle you lose, the slower your metabolism becomes. but again don’t forget to factor in other things like sleep and lifestyle.
With all the info on the net it’s really easy to get confused by absolutist claims. but it’s important to remember that we are continuously learning about anatomy and nothing is set in stone till it’s scientifically proven. The problem is that not many studies prove things, like a relation between frequent meals and reduction of obesity. Relation does not mean causation, and many a time people tend to overestimate the significance of one thing over the other.
Metabolism is genetic, but it can be improved and boosted. Again, as with many things change in activity and body composition tends to be the most effective of ways.