3 Revelations That Change What You Think You Know About Metabolism
It might be the most cited, yet least understood excuse for weight gain ever. Experts tell you to ‘speed up’ your metabolism to help you burn more calories and lose weight. And you tell yourself, and anyone who will listen, that your extra weight is due to a slow metabolism.
But what if the entire idea of a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolic rate is wrong?
Dr. Dan Reardon M.D, the CEO and co-founder of DNA testing company FitnessGenes thinks that many of the commonly held perceptions about how metabolism works are really just myths that must be debunked.
This includes the idea that you can speed-up or slow down your metabolism. “There are 180 metabolic pathways, or things that affect your metabolism,” says Dr. Reardon. “Everyone either thinks their metabolism is fast or slow, but that concept is flawed.”
The Basics of Metabolism
In a nutshell, ‘metabolism’ is the biochemical process your body performs to convert the energy in the food you eat into energy that your body can burn. That food energy is measured in calories.
Everyone has a ‘basal metabolic rate’ which is the number of calories of energy your body needs to metabolize to carry out its basic functions when you are at rest. These functions include things like breathing, keeping your heart beating and growing your hair.
When your metabolism works as it should, you have a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammation and weight gain.
Generally speaking, when your basal metabolic rate burns more calories, you are considered to have a higher, or faster metabolism. And when your basal rate burns fewer calories, you are said to have a slower metabolism.
Also, it’s generally believed that things like exercise and even spicy foods can speed up your metabolism so you burn more calories, and resting slows down your metabolism and you burn fewer calories.
The Myths Begin with the Idea of ‘Fast’ & ‘Slow’ Metabolism
In an article on WellAndGood.com, Dr. Reardon explains some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about metabolism.
1. We Think About Metabolism in the Wrong Way
In fact, we might have it all backwards. Instead of thinking about our metabolism being fast or slow, Dr. Reardon says we should think about it as being ‘efficient’ or ‘inefficient’.
And changing our thinking isn’t as easy as it appears because what we consider a fast metabolism equates to what is really an inefficient metabolism.
“It’s inefficient because it means the person has variations on their receptor cells that keep them from actually storing food as energy in the body,” Dr. Reardon explains in the article. “But people with what is perceived as a slower metabolism actually are running more efficiently because their cell receptors are turning the food into stored energy.”
In other words, a faster metabolism is inefficient because it needs to burn more calories to do the same work as a slower metabolism – which makes a slower metabolism the efficient one.
It’s that efficiency that can lead to weight gain. Needing fewer calories to fuel your basic functions means more calories left over from what you eat. Calories that can end up stored as extra fat.
2. Athletes Should Want a ‘Slow’ Metabolism
This is where the thinking really starts to change. While it’s traditionally been thought that athletes or more active people should have a ‘fast’ metabolism, the opposite is true. A more efficient metabolism, or slower, or one that burns fewer calories, leaves the body more calories to burn during physical activity and athletic performance.
3. Age Does Not Slow Down Your Metabolism
Dr. Reardon contends that the numbers on your birth certificate have no bearing on your metabolism.
“Age will never be a factor on your metabolism if you keep acting the way you did when you were 21,” Dr. Reardon claims.
His contention is that we make certain lifestyle changes just because we are expected to do so at certain ages. At 17, we’re more likely to walk more and take part in more physical activities that are not part of the lifestyles of older people. According to Dr. Reardon, just acting the way you did when you were younger is enough to stop your metabolism from changing.
Not everyone can be as active as they were as a teenager. But the overall point is that even a little activity will help you burn more calories. When you do, you need to make sure your body has the right nutrition to keep your metabolism working at its best to support your weight loss. That’s where the nutritional consultants at your closest Herbal One Centre can help.