Myths About The Metabolism


Obesity is a rapid growing epidemic that has most people scared. Think shorter life expectancy, bullying in school, lower self esteem, and billions of dollars spent on obesity related medical problems. With so many people being overweight or obese you would expect that facts about weight loss should be readily available and promoted not only by the doctors, but also be mandatory to learn in school. Unfortunately that is not the case. It puzzles me as to how many people today are confused when it comes to reasons to why they are overweight or obese.

I bet that at least once in your life you have muttered the words “Look at how much she eats and she is still skinny!” We look at the runway models that have given birth just a mere 6 weeks ago, strutting their stuff with flat bellies and no stretch marks and wonder “are they even from this planet?” Why is it that I have to watch what I eat and still have not seen my body look that good ever?

Many of us jump right into to blaming our metabolism, as a “slow” metabolism is a favorite excuse of many. I have worked as a health coach for many years and have discussed this popular topic with many dietitians and nutritionists alike, so what is the real truth?

First of all, please know that less than 10% of women on this planet have bodies that would be considered right for modeling (the too skinny, boyish looking bodies). They can maintain their body shapes somewhat easier than most, but the truth is they still work hard for it. I have met many models and what I have learned is that 99% of them exercise vigorously, watch what they eat, and really rarely indulge in sugary treats. Yes, you might see them savoring a delicious meal at a restaurant followed by a high calorie treat, but that is a rare occasion. When I say occasional, I do not mean occasional on daily basis, I mean occasional once a month or even less.

Here are few other facts about your metabolism that might surprise you.

Rapid Metabolism – Rapid Wear On The Body

I can definitely see how this logic works. A higher metabolic workload produces the formation of more free radicals, which in turn can damage cells long-term. It’s like the comments we have heard about running – “it wears out the knees”. Just because someone said that, does not make it true. The truth is, free radicals are formed from the effects of radiation, smoking, bad eating habits, alcohol etc. Antioxidants that we get with the help of a healthy diet can neutralize those free radicals. So the fact is, if we eat a healthy diet we not only can maintain our weight but can prevent faster aging, even if a faster metabolism were a threat to it.

Skinny Equals A Faster Metabolism

I have heard many times people say that once they lose the extra weight and become “skinny” they will gain a faster metabolism. This could not be further from the truth. Our metabolisms mostly depend on the structure of our body, (how much bone mass we have, nerve tissues, muscle mass etc.) and is controlled by a thyroid gland and physical activity. Have you noticed how some people look so gracious by moving slower, almost too carefully and others move while sitting down (my child is a mover and shaker, so no wonder he eats the amount of food that amounts to feeding 5 boys). Because of these many factors, every body has different energy requirements. Food equals calories and calories equal energy. Now you can see how some people can eat more food just because their bodies require more energy, not because it has anything to do with a different metabolism rate.

So what do we do since we are not one of those people that require more energy just to get through their day? Remember to consume the calories you use. If you use less than you consume, you will in turn gain weight. When you lose weight, you need to reduce calories significantly or increase your daily activity level to make up for the lost body and muscle mass. A heavier set person burns more calories even while sleeping. When the weight is lost, their caloric intake has to be adjusted in order to not gain the weight that has been lost through hard work and dedication.

One of the key facts to remember: It is best if you lose fat rather than muscle. Muscle can burn calories when fat does not. When losing weight, first make sure to eat a lot of protein, and to eat enough calories not to lose too fast (prevents muscle loss). Also do not forget to take it slow. It took you awhile to gain the weight, so make sure you set a goal that is attainable and will not harm your body through the weight loss process.

Spicy Food – Faster Metabolism

Spices could potentially speed up the process of your metabolism, but sadly for only about 15-20 minutes by simply speeding up the blood flow. Science shows that ginger is one of the best spices to use, which can have a fat burning effect. Some studies show that drinking ginger tea throughout the day could potentially speed up the metabolism and have a longer lasting effect. Please be aware that consuming spicy foods too often can help speed up your metabolism, but it can also increase the chances of irritating your stomach and even developing heart burn or ulcers.

Aging Slows Down The Metabolism

The main role in the speed of your metabolism is played by the physiology of your body. Many body-changing processes occur with age. One particular occurrence is the decreased level of the sex hormone called testosterone, which is responsible for muscle synthesis. Just as I have mentioned before, the more muscle that is produced equals the higher use of energy. Because some of your muscle mass is lost, your metabolism slows down because less energy is needed to be processed in order for the body to function. One of the ways to offset muscle loss, is to continue to weight train and rebuild lost muscle. This is why women over 35 years of age are encouraged to take on weight training if they have not done so yet.

A Slowed Down Metabolism Is Preventing Weight Loss

It is an excuse heard time and time again. The truth of the matter is, that only 5-6% of people are not able to lose weight due to metabolic disorders. The other 94-95% is due to lack of exercise and poor portion control. You do not need to go crazy and workout 2 hours a day and eat 500 calories to see weight come off. Lowering your calories slowly, eliminating certain foods one at a time, and devoting even 15 minutes of your time to exercise or any physical activity will prove to be very effective long term. Many people strive to achieve weight loss or desire to have a more fit body within just a few weeks. The fact is, this is a very aggressive goal, and is nearly impossible to undo years of body neglect in such a short period of time. Second it is extremely unhealthy to do so. Choose the plan that will be gentle on your body and you will be able to sustain for a longer period of time without having to quit after just a few days.

The good news is, a metabolic disorder associated with the famous disease “obesity” only causes 5-6% of cases in patients. Everything else, such as overeating and lack of exercise is the main culprit of weight gain. The bad news: if you do not cure the metabolic disorder, you will fail when trying to lose weight no matter how hard you try.

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