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03 Important Facts About Your Metabolism and Weight Loss

03 Important Facts About Your Metabolism and Weight Loss

When it comes to dieting, exercise, and overall trying to lose weight and maintain your health, you might hear the word “Metabolism” come up a lot. Metabolism is the process by which the human body turns the food you eat into the energy you can use and plays an important role in managing your body’s weight. However, not everyone understands how exactly human metabolism works, which can result in many people having misunderstandings and misconceptions about their own metabolisms.  

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Today, the purpose of this post is to clear up some of these misconceptions by answering some of the most popular questions about our metabolisms, in order to help you make the most of your weight loss plan. Before we start, give your index finger a workout by clicking on the follow button and notification bell to stay up to date on our daily posts and content. Let’s start with the basics: 

WHAT EXACTLY IS METABOLISM, ANYWAY?

The Mayo Clinic defines metabolism as “The body processes needed to maintain life”. If that definition sounds a little bit nebulous, don’t worry; allow us to break things down a bit further. We most commonly think of the metabolism process as the way in which your body converts food into energy. This process is universal across all living things; whether you’re an animal or a plant, all living creatures require a source of energy to keep functioning. In addition to converting food into fuel, your metabolism covers other aspects of life such as breathing, digestion, and even repairing your body’s cells. In other words, every chemical process in your body that keeps you alive and functional can be traced back to your metabolism. 

Despite the fact that metabolism covers so many aspects of your life and health, the one that people commonly seem to be the most concerned with is how it affects your body’s weight. When a person demonstrates exceptional weight loss or weight management, people sometimes make the assumption that they have a “Fast Metabolism” to help them burn off fat at a faster rate. By the same token, people who seem to struggle with weight loss are typically considered to have a “Slow Metabolism”. But how much of this mindset is true? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular questions surrounding the topic of metabolism, and see what answers experts on the subject can provide. 

01. Is Metabolism Genetic?

Many people are led to believe that the speed at which your metabolism runs is a genetic trait that each person is born with, and as a result, there’s nothing you can do to change it. This can potentially lead to a defeatist mentality among people who appear to have quote-unquote “Slow” metabolisms: after all, if you struggle with weight loss due to slow metabolism, what’s the point in trying to lose weight in the first place if your metabolism is going to be fighting you every step of the way? The truth of the matter is this: while your metabolism is influenced in part by your genes, the biggest impact on your metabolism speed depends on your lifestyle choices: A.K.A diet and exercise. Additionally, while a slow metabolism can indeed reduce the rate at which your body burns calories, it’s not the only thing to consider when it comes to managing your weight. In fact, a slow metabolism on its own is rarely the cause of weight gain; ultimately, diet and level of physical activity play the biggest role in that department as well. Another assumption people make about genetics is that skinner people have metabolisms that are naturally faster. However, this commonly believed metabolism“Fact” is also false. According to Nancy Farrell Allen, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the real secret to a fast metabolism isn't skinny you are, but rather how much muscle mass you have. Allen writes that “[Metabolism] depends on the composition of protein mass you have - muscle is more metabolically active”. In other words, building muscle gives your metabolism a boost and causes your body to burn more calories during periods of rest. Because of this, muscle-building exercises such as weightlifting are an ideal way to give your metabolism a much-needed kickstart. More muscle equals more calories burned, and more calories burned equals more weight loss. 

02. Can You Speed Up Your Metabolism? 

Now that we know how your metabolism functions, the next question on your mind is probably whether or not there’s anything you can do to speed up your metabolism and lose weight faster. The short answer is yes; however, some of the ways that people try to speed up their own metabolisms can sometimes be seen as misguided at best and actively hurting your weight loss progress at worst. One popular misconception is that eating several smaller meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals, is better for your metabolism in the long run. While this idea has been held as true for a while new evidence suggests that this meal plan might not be as beneficial as we originally thought; this is primarily due to the fact that eating more meals throughout the day means that you have to work extra hard when it comes to counting calories. According to Allen: “A lot of times we tell people to eat five or six small meals a day, but there’s some research coming out saying maybe it’s better to eat two or three modest meals a day. When people hear they can eat five or six small meals they’re not eating small meals,” In other words, when you split up your daily food intake over five or six meals, it can potentially become easy to lose track of exactly how much you’re actually eating. For more balanced meal plans, smaller but larger meals make it easier to keep track of calories, as well as to make sure that the food you’re eating contains a veritable amount of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Another way people have tried to give their metabolisms a boost was by taking over-the-counter supplements that claim to speed up your metabolism. Unfortunately, the idea that a pill can boost your metabolism is also wishful thinking, and a supplement will not have any direct impact on your metabolism. This is because the supplements themselves do not contain any calories or energy for your body to use. Additionally, supplements can also come with some potentially dangerous side effects, especially if you happen to be taking any prescription medications. If you think supplements might be an easy shortcut on the path to losing weight, chances are you’re likely to be disappointed. 

So how can you give your metabolism a much-needed boost? Well, in addition, to exercise and building muscle mass, some foods may also have a naturally positive impact on your metabolism as well. Spicy foods such as chili peppers, foods high in iron such as lean meat and lentils, and beverages such as coffee and green tea are all believed to have metabolism-boosting properties. Your metabolism also has a habit of slowing down when you’re dehydrated, so drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help your metabolism to run at maximized efficiency. 

03. Does Your Metabolism Slow Down Over Time? 

While it is true that your metabolism slows down as you get older, the effects aren’t quite as immediate and sudden as people make it out to be. A lot of people seem to assume that as soon as your twenties are over, you can expect to hit a metabolic wall; in actuality, most people will start to notice a slowdown in their metabolism somewhere around their 50s. Because this coincides with menopause, women are likely to experience this slowdown the most, which can potentially lead to additional weight gain. However, nutritional experts suggest that you can still control your metabolism to an extent by maintaining the same positive lifestyle habits as you get older. In other words, while your metabolism does slow down over time, it doesn’t screech to a halt the way people sometimes expect it to. 

With these questions answered, you hopefully now have a better understanding of how your body’s metabolism works, as well as the things you can do in order to keep your metabolism running smoothly and work towards your weight loss goals. While many people tend to blame their weight loss struggles on a slow metabolism, the truth of the matter is that there are still things you can do to give your metabolism a potential boost and work towards your ideal weight. 

Did you find this post interesting or informative? Do you have any other questions on the subject that you’d like us to answer in a future post? We value your feedback, so be sure to let us know in the comments section below, and help us keep the conversation going.

The information I provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. You should never use content in my writing as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if indicated for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this blog. Thank you.

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