Vitality

5 Common Myths About Metabolism

It is near impossible to read about weight loss without seeing the word "metabolism," being thrown around. And like a lot of subtopics under health and nutrition, it is prone to a fair share of myths. Here are five of them you may have come across.

1. Metabolism will noticeably decline once you hit 30

It is true that your metabolism slows down with time and age, though it is not so clear-cut. Women may actually see the biggest changes closer to menopause due to all the accompanying hormonal changes, for example.

If you do gain weight in your 30s, it could be due to several controllable factors and not entirely a matter of genetics. This is the decade when people are more likely to spend long hours sitting at the office, start taking care of children, and possibly not work out as much as they used to. 

2. Any kind of exercise can help boost metabolism

While aerobic exercises do benefit health, they are not enough for building muscle. If a person does not include strength exercises in their workout, poor muscle mass can contribute to a metabolic decline.

"Strength training builds muscle, which needs to be fed calories," Lisa Nordquist, an ACE-certified personal trainer, told Prevention. "That requires your body to turn on its engine — a.k.a. your metabolism — to maintain that muscle mass."

3. People who are skinny have a faster metabolism 

As noted in this previous point, metabolism has more to do with the amount of muscle than the size of the body. Muscles use more energy than fat when you are at rest, which means you are burning fuel even when not engaged in physical activity. 

So it actually appears to be the other way around with larger people burning more calories. "The more you weigh, the more oxygen your muscles need in order to support that weight and all of your body’s functions," Jason Karp, Ph.D., author of Running for Women, told Shape.

4. Eating food late at night leads to weight gain

The timing and the frequency of your meals do not impact your resting metabolic rate in a major way. As told by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff from the University of Ottawa, it is kind of like how the distance your car can travel is not influenced by what time you fill the vehicle with gas.

Quality and quantity are what ultimately matter. So make sure your diet provides all the recommended nutrients with your calorie intake being within the healthy range.

5. Spicy foods can speed up your metabolism

While spicy foods can trigger a temporary spike, there is no evidence that they have any kind of long-term impact on our metabolic rate. "Spicy foods briefly boost heat generation – you’ll notice you feel hot after a curry or chili," said Dr. Ellie Cannon, a woman’s medical columnist. "While this does burn calories, there’s no long-lasting effect on your metabolism."

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