Metabolism: Facts vs. Myths

by in Healthy Tips, April 5, 2013

Lifestyle and its impact on metabolism is always a hot topic. Find out what really affects how your body runs.

Myth: Eating at night causes weight gain
There’s no magical evening hour where foods just turn to fat. Once your calorie intake exceeds expenditure you can put on the pounds — no matter what time of day. On the other hand, if you need more calories after dinner, have a light and sensible snack.

Myth: Eat spicy foods to burn calories
There’s an element of some spicy foods (like chili peppers) that may help suppress appetite and create a short-lived increase in body heat. BUT don’t rely on these tactics to shed pounds – they could do more harm than good, especially if you’re prone to heartburn.

Fact: Eating throughout the day fuels metabolism
Eating sensibly throughout the day keeps energy and blood sugar levels more stable. This can also help prevent overeating later in the day.

Myth: Green tea revs up metabolism
With plenty of antioxidants to offer, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a daily dose of green tea. While rumors swirl about the weight loss benefits, numerous studies have failed to find solid evidence. The caffeine found in green tea might give you a quick boost, but it’s no magic bullet.

Fact: Exercise boosts metabolism
It’s fairly simple: exercise raises heart rate and higher heart rate means more calories burned. Folks who exercise at high intensity can reap the benefits after exercise has ended according to a 2011 study. Need more incentive to get moving? Another study found that women who don’t get enough exercise are at greater risk for Metabolic Syndrome, a combination of several risk factors for chronic disease such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Myth: Skinny people have a faster metabolism
Skinny doesn’t always mean faster (metabolically speaking) or healthier – thin folks are at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well. Genetics can play a role in your metabolic rate and that will affect how efficiently (or inefficiently) calories are burned they burn calories, no matter what your body type.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (33)

  1. Michelle says:

    This definitely made my day!

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  3. John Taylor says:

    Good information.

    While green tea may not play a significant role in weight loss, it is a terrific antioxidant, and as such, has many health benefits. Antioxidants are great for the heart, for example.

  4. kswizzle34 says:

    Vitamins along with great food will also help you lose weight. Great vitamin link here:

  5. Rob says:

    Heredity is huge. My grandfather was a finish carpenter and a pastor. Never drank and always ate is veggies (very little body fat). He had two heart attacks before age 60 and had high cholesterol. Getting that heart rate up and keeping it up for 20 min daily (no less than 3-5 days a week) is key. So, stop reading about being fit and go do it!!

  6. Laura says:

    Iam so glad you pointed out that eating later in the day is a myth. I train for figure competitions and eat 7 meals a day. The last one is right before bed… hasn't made me fat yet! ;)

  7. NihgCharthaigh says:

    Finally somebody actually said it! Skinny people aren't naturally better fit than fat people. It isn't a simple equation. If you have a good height/weight ratio, but smoke, eat fatty foods and avoid exercise, you are at greater risk for heart attack than an overweight person who exercises, eats sensibly and doesn't smoke. If you're obese, it isn't a given that you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Even the doctors don't believe it of me. I'm super obese–and, yes, that gives me some poor longevity numbers–but at 63 I have good cholesterol, my blood pressure is marginally higher than normal, and I don't have diabetes. The more you follow the Nutritionists mantra, the more likely you'll live a long life. No guarantees though. My grandmother was super obese and she lived to 90. I could just have good genes.

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