Although the temperature gauge on your dashboard may not agree, spring is here! In Michigan this is when we make our last ditch efforts to lose that winter weight. Now, you don’t have much time to get the results you want, so I want to clear up some common misconceptions about your metabolism so you can focus on achieving your goals.
1). Eating small, frequent meals speeds up metabolism.
There is no research to support an individual’s metabolism being higher based upon the frequency of their meals throughout the day. However, eating small, frequent meals provides you with ample energy for physical activity, improves central nervous system function, and prevents you from over indulging later in the day due to elevated hunger levels. So it’s not wrong, just not essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
2). Thin people have a faster metabolism.
Nope. Thin people are doing something differently. His or her resting metabolic rate (RMR) is not much different than anyone else. That “something different” is either a greater amount of physical activity, lower calorie intake, or a combination of both. In fact, less overall body mass typically means a lower metabolism because there is less tissue for nutrients to allocate to.
3). Morning workouts “rev” up your metabolism for the rest of the day.
Careful with this one! People think that just because they had a tough workout in the morning they are able to eat whatever they want for the rest of the day. This is not true and metabolism will not be affected. You’ll expend the same amount of calories (depending on the intensity of the workout) in the morning, afternoon or evening. The best time to exercise is whatever fits into your schedule!
4). Spicy foods elevate metabolism.
True and false. Many common diet pills use ingredients from spicy foods, such as peppers, to solidify their research. These foods can elevate body temperature slightly, which may increase metabolism in small increments. However, this elevation is not enough to make a difference to aid in your weight loss journey. Do some of these diet pills “boost” your metabolism? Sure, but not nearly enough to justify the lofty price tag.
5). Calories consumed late at night are converted to fat while you sleep.
Wrong again! And I know a lot of you reading may have had success by cutting late night calories. But it wasn’t the time that mattered; it was the calories you were cutting. If you are in a 500 calorie deficit by 8pm and then eat 500 calories before you go to bed, you will not lose weight. If you are in a 500 calorie deficit by 8pm and go to bed without eating then yes, of course you will lose weight. It’s all about your total daily energy intake vs. energy output. Focus on the total number of calories and don’t worry so much about the time.
6). Your metabolism drops drastically with age.
Now here is an excuse most people are going to be angry to lose. Metabolism does not drastically slow with age. In fact, basal metabolism attributed to aging is no more that 1-2% per decade in healthy, active adults. The thing that does typically decrease with age is physical activity. When you were eating whatever you wanted as a teenager, it wasn’t your magical teen metabolism keeping you fit. It was the bike ride to and from school, gym class, walking the high school halls, athletic practice from 3-5pm, and then the games of capture the flag at your friend’s house. Today you woke up, ate, drove to work, sat at a desk for 8-12 hours, drove home, ate again and went to bed. See the difference?
7). This pill/food/drink will boost your metabolism.
There is no special pill, food, or “easy button” that is going to boost your metabolism enough to see quantifiable results. If there were, I would not be writing this blog. I wouldn’t even be employed! We would all be popping a pill each day, looking great, and eating whatever we want. Since this is not the case, you’re stuck reading this.
Most people believe their metabolism is just too slow. In reality, it is our skewed perception of how many calories we think we need to survive and our wishful thinking that 2-3 hours of physical activity per week is enough. Being fit requires hard work and healthy choices, not following the latest fad diets or cutting corners.
If all of these “quick fixes” I’ve referenced won’t help you lose weight, what’s the solution? Well, it’s not all doom and gloom! Be sure to read my next blog on “Maintaining a Healthy Metabolism” for tips on staying healthy for years to come.