Metabolism Myths

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Google the word metabolism and you’ll find nearly 45 million results on how to “speed up,” “ignite,” “kick start,” and “boost” your body’s fat burning capacity. The truth is, there are probably more myths about metabolism than there are about the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.  The reality is your body burns between 2 to 5% fewer calories with each decade after you turn 40, and women tend to put on about a pound a year as a result. Simple tweaks to your daily routine can help you keep up your calorie burn and compensate for the deficit, keeping you from succumbing to age related weight gain. Here are some of the most common Myths.

1. Your body burns more calories digesting ice cold beverages and foods.

True. Before you give yourself an ice cream headache, the small difference in calories won’t make a significant dent in your diet. On the bright side, five or six ice cold glasses of water could help you burn about 10 extra calories a day equaling about 1 pound of nearly effortless weight loss each year.
Tip Although the metabolism boosting effects are small, it can’t hurt to pour no calorie drinks like water, tea, coffee over ice to maximize your body’s calorie burning potential.

2. Drinking the right amount of water can help you burn more calories.

True. All of your body’s chemical reactions, including your metabolism, depend onwater. If you are dehydrated, you may be burning up to 2% fewer calories. People who drink either eight or twelve 8 ounce glasses of water a day have a higher metabolic rate than those who drink only four.
Tip If your urine is darker than light straw in color, you may not be drinking enough fluid. Try sipping one glass before each meal and snack to stay hydrated.

3. Dieting drops your resting metabolic rate, making it harder to keep weight off.

True. For every pound you lose, your resting metabolism drops by about 2 to 10 calories a day. Lose 10 pounds, and you now have to eat 20 to 100 fewer calories to maintain your trimmer physique, not factoring in exercise. However, you can prevent your metabolic rate from slipping while you get slim. One way is to lose fat but maintain muscle. You can do this by reducing calories and increasing aerobic and weight training exercises. Crash diets that have you eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day, may result in a higher percentage of muscle loss.
Tip Lose weight by cutting 250 calories a day and burning 250 calories per day through exercise. That will help you retain or even gain muscle while you lose a greater percentage of body fat.

4. Hot foods will fire up metabolism.

True. Capsaicin, the bioactive compound that makes Chile peppers exude heat, and can turn up your metabolism a notch and helps to reduce hunger. Eating about 1 tablespoon of chopped red or green Chile peppers is equal to 30 mg of capsaicin which can temporary boost your metabolism 23%. 0.9 g of red pepper was given in capsule form or naturally in tomato juice before each meal. This reduced the total calorie intake by 10 to 16% and continued for 2 days after.
Tip Sprinkle red pepper flakes onto pasta dishes and into chilies and stews.  Fresh Chile peppers work well in salsas and add flavor to many other dishes.

5. Eating more protein will rev up your metabolism.

True. Protein provides a metabolic advantage compared with fat or carbohydratesbecause your body uses more energy to process it. This is known as the Thermic effect of food. You may burn up to twice as many calories digesting protein as carbohydrates. In a typical diet, 14% of calories come from protein. Double that and reduce carbohydrates to make up for the extra calories, and you can burn an additional 150 to 200 calories a day.
Tip To get the best of protein’s rewards, strive for between 10 and 20 g at each of your meals. Try an 8 ounce cup of low fat plain yogurt with breakfast (about 13 g), a 1/2 cup serving of hummus with lunch (about 10 g), and a 3 ounce salmon fillet for dinner (about 17 g).

6. Eating a grapefruit before every meal speeds metabolism.

False. Grapefruit won’t work miracles for your metabolism, but it can help you lose weight. Half a grapefruit before meals may help to  lose about 4 pounds in 12 weeks. The reason: Its fiber and water fill you up on fewer calories, so you eat less at your next meal.
Tip Instead of soup or salad, try a half a grapefruit, or a tangerine before your main course.

7. Lifting weights boosts your metabolism more than a cardio workout.

True. When you strength train using weights, enough to add 3 pounds of muscle, you increase your calorie burn by 6 to 8% meaning that you burn about 100 extra calories every day. Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, doesn’t significantly increase your body’s lean muscle mass. “
Tip You want to focus on exercises that recruit the largest muscles and use two part movements, because they will help you build more lean mass. These exercises include squats, push ups, and any exercise that combines upper and lower body movements.

8. Celery is a “negative calorie food” because digesting it uses up more calories than it provides.

False. The thermic effect of food does cause your body to burn up calories as it processes meals, snacks, and beverages. But this process accounts for anywhere from 0 to 30% of the calories you eat (protein, for example, takes more calories to digest than fat or carbohydrates) A medium size piece of celery has only about 6 calories; and its thermic effect is approximately half a calorie. In reality, negative calorie foods are nothing more than wishful thinking.
Tip Include celery as a low calorie but filling addition to salads, stir fries, and soups. You may not be able to depend on it to magically melt away your trouble spots but it is healthy because it has phthalides, compounds that can help reduce your blood pressure.

9. Tea revs your natural calorie burn.

True. Catechins found in green and oolong teas can boost your body’s fat burning fire.  Just one large cup of oolong tea may increase calorie burning by up to 10%, a boost that peaked 1 1/2 hours later. Green tea raises metabolism by 4% for 1 1/2 hours. Drinking two to four cups of green or oolong daily may translate into an extra 50 calories burned each day about 5 pounds’ worth in a year.
Tip Try a cup of green or oolong tea in place of your morning coffee for a dose of caffeine that will wake up your metabolism as well. Instead of milk or sweetener, add a squeeze of lemon, which may help your body absorb more catechins.

10. PMS cravings are related to the boost in metabolism before your period.

True. If there is a silver lining to PMS, it’s that your resting metabolic rate may increase the day after ovulation to the first day of your period. The metabolic boost you get from being “hormonal” can equal as much as 300 calories a day which is why your appetite increases during this phase.
Tip Keep a journal of what you eat the week before and the weeks after your period. Try to maintain your eating pattern over the course of the month so that you can take advantage of this hormone driven calorie burn. If you give in to cravings, make sure that you keep portions in check.

11. If you have limited time, exercise at a higher intensity for a metabolic after burn.

True. When you exercise at very high intensity you experience a post exercise boost in resting metabolic rate that is larger and lasts longer compared with those who work out at a low or moderate level. Up the effort of your workout and you can expect to burn at least 10% of the total calories used during the workout in the hour or so after exercising. So, if you do a combo of walking and jogging for 4 miles (about 400 calories) instead of just walking, you may burn an extra 40 calories in the next few hours.
Tip Infuse your workout with bursts of speed. Gradually work your way up to 2 minute intervals, 3 days a week.

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