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Metabolism Misconceptions

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

What Metabolism Is & What It Isn't

Metabolism misconceptions run rampant on the internet. Everyone throwing the word around like it's a catch all phrase for everything weight related. But it isn't just about how many calories your body burns. It is all of the biochemical reactions that occur inside your body. These metabolic processes require energy and they also produce energy. Your metabolic rate refers to the speed at which these processes occur.

There are many complexities surrounding your metabolism and metabolic rate and there are many "myths" so to speak, or misconceptions about what it is and what it isn't.

Metabolism Misconceptions

One misconception is that thinner or smaller individuals have a faster metabolic rate. This is false & the exact opposite is true. The bigger the individual the higher the metabolic rate. They have more mass to move around and therefore require more energy. We can use the analogy of a semi-truck and a small car.

The semi-truck, even when idle is using more gas than the small car, and once they start driving the semi still uses more gas to get from point A to point B. Your organs, muscle, bone density, fat mass, and height, all contribute to your metabolic rate. Your organs contribute up to 43% of your metabolic rate research shows. Adipose tissue also contributes about 6% of your metabolic rate and the more fat you have the higher the contribution.

Let's define the baseline which is BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest. It can be calculated with some reasonable accuracy with several different formulas or using a body composition scale.

Misconception #2

Just because you are "older" or aging, does not mean you can blame your metabolism for your unwanted weight gain. Your metabolic rate remains relatively stable from your 20s up until age 60. Afterward, it begins to decline at a rate of 0.7% per year!

Lifestyle habits, like caloric intake, how active or sedentary you are, and stress play the biggest role in weight gain as we age. Genetics plays a role as well.

Misconception #3

The hormone insulin is an anabolic hormone-it is a growth hormone. So, if insulin is low, we have elevated energy expenditure, as insulin rises energy expenditure goes down. When insulin is chronically elevated it makes it much easier to gain fat and harder to burn it. Insulin resistance doesn't happen overnight either. It can take years for signs of chronically elevated insulin, such as weight gain, to show up.

Misconception #4

Increasing your metabolic rate is difficult, but not impossible. Physical activity, specifically strength training, makes the biggest difference in increasing metabolic rate. Why? You are building lean mass, and lean mass requires energy. Not only does muscle mass require energy, but its energy burn is 5-10 times higher than a fat cell. Once moving, the muscle cell is 50-100 times higher! So, why wouldn't you start doing this today?

Intermittent fasting also helps. A 24-hour fast causes your metabolic rate to increase significantly because your body has to break down fat and use ketones for energy. It is only when intermittent fasting becomes chronic or excessive that it starts to cause your body to down-regulate, especially thyroid hormones, and especially in women.

Eating a low-carbohydrate diet can also be an effective tool for speeding up metabolism. This is mostly due to keeping blood glucose low and stable throughout the day, which in turn, keeps insulin low. Your body ends up using more fatty acids for energy. This is especially effective if you have a more sedentary lifestyles. This is not the case for extremely active people, such as athletes, or individuals who have labor-intensive careers.

Now that you have the facts, what are you going to do about it? Gather the tools, resources, and knowledge you have and start implementing some of these changes today! You aren't getting any younger and your metabolism isn't getting any faster :) If you need help getting started book a FREE consult here

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