Metabolism myths

Published On: May 26, 2017 10:14 AM NPT

The word ‘metabolism’ is thrown around a lot whenever there is any discussion on any issues around weight. While some enthusiastically give it full credit for their enviable figures, there are others who simply throw up their hands and blame their excess weight on their slow metabolism. So by now we have clearly established the importance of metabolism. However, it seems there are still many facets of the process that remains a little sketchy for many people. 

For instance, what does hot sauce have to do with better metabolism? Is it really down to genes or do we have full control over it? The facts often get blurred with fiction. So this week, Dr Praniti Singh, nutritionist at Norvic International Hospital helps us set the record straight.

Claim: Metabolism largely depends on our genes 
The truth: It’s true an individual’s metabolism is genetically influenced. That’s why we all know somebody who regardless of how much they eat, never end up gaining weight. Whatever they eat gets expended as energy and you will also notice that these people are generally fidgety and more active. However, that’s not all there is to it. While genes do play a part, metabolism can change. You can improve it by eating right, paying attention to your diet and nutrition, and exercising. 

Claims: Food items like caffeine, chili and green tea can help boost metabolism.
The truth: There have been certain studies that back this claim. Some do believe that caffeine, spicy food and green tea in particular have helped them in their quest for weight loss. But at the same time, it is important to know that, this slight boost in metabolic rates isn’t enough to offset eating too many calories. There is no such magic food that will exponentially speed up metabolism.

So what helps improve our metabolism?
Hold out on chili pepper because the route to healthy weight loss is still through portion control and a balanced diet filled with nutrient rich foods.
Further, as you might have guessed (or dreaded) exercise is also crucial. The more lean muscles you build, the better your metabolism will fare. It’s the most reliable way to improve your metabolic rate. Muscle burns more calories per hour than fat, which means that people with lean, muscular bodies need more calories to function than people with a higher percentage of body fat.

Claim: Very low calorie diets and skipping meals can jumpstart weight loss and thus assist metabolism.
The truth: This is something I warn all my patients who come to me for weight loss. They complain about how even when they don’t eat anything, they are overweight. This is the biggest myth out there.

When you are not giving your body enough to eat, the body knows that it is not going to get any kind of energy. So whatever you are eating it will keep storing everything that comes its way as fat. Moreover, it will also then start breaking down your muscles because it has to get energy from somewhere since your organs need it to function. It’s called resting metabolic rate. This is also when protein starts breaking down and it all leads to your metabolism declining. So skipping meals and incredibly rigid low calorie diets basically bring on the opposite of the results you desire. When your metabolism becomes so low, despite eating less, you will find yourself gaining weight. 

Claim: Skinner people have better metabolism.
The truth: This isn’t necessarily true. In fact, in many cases, this isn’t the case at all. Some people are on the skinner side because of their genes. Though metabolism plays a role in it, we can’t generalize that skinner people will have higher or better metabolism. If you pay attention, some skinny people just don’t have the habit of eating too much. A lot of patients who are underweight also don’t have a good appetite and don’t feel like eating all the time. So in this way, metabolism is not the only reasons behind their slim/ skinny figures. The reasons often vary. 

Claim: Metabolism decreases as you get older.
The truth: Now this is a fact. With age your lean muscle weight will start decreasing and your fat mass will start increasing. Since you are losing muscle weight, your body mass index (BMI) is going to be lower than before which does impact your metabolism. You will notice it to be lower. But you can counteract this process by picking up the weights and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Bottom line 
While there are certain factors like genes, gender, and age that influence one’s metabolism, at the end of the day, you can claim control of over it as well. By keeping tabs of your diet, adding exercising to your daily routine (to build more lean muscles) and also making sure your get sufficient sleep you can boost your metabolism.


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