Metabolism Truths and Myths

As our weather here in Wisconsin finally warms, we can’t wait to get outside, shed our multiple layers of Polar Fleece and enjoy some sunshine and sweet open air! Women view this time of year with both celebration and trepidation and our goal to “lose that winter weight” hits us hard. There’s so much mis-information out there about getting into shape, we thought we’d debunk some common myths and highlight some truths.

1. Starvation Diets Don’t Work. TRUE. Eating a lot less food slows your metabolism down. On a starvation or very low calorie diet, your body has no idea you’re doing it to fit into last year’s swim suit. It “thinks” it must conserve to preserve your life. As a result, you burn less calories, lose muscle mass and have no endurance or energy for exercise. Kick this format for weight loss to the curb. It doesn’t work and it isn’t healthy.

2. Your Metabolism Slows as you Age. TRUE…kind of. Age itself isn’t the culprit slowing metabolism and leading to weight gain, it’s a decrease in muscle mass. In general, we lose muscle as we age due to being less active. Lower muscle mass equals lowered BMR (basal metabolic rate) and the amount of calories your body burns. So what’s the remedy? Stay active and incorporate strength training into your exercise routine to boost metabolism.

3. Water Does a Body Good. TRUE. Just like Starvation Diets, drinking less than four glasses of water a day signals your body to slow metabolism. Your body’s biochemistry relies on water to utilize nutrients in food and burn calories. Strive to drink at least 64 fl oz of water daily. Drinking a large glass of water before your meal also reduces appetite assisting with portion control.

4. Slim People have Higher Metabolisms than Overweight People. FALSE. It takes more energy (and calorie consumption) to move a 200# frame throughout the day compared to one that weighs 125#. Indeed, a 200# woman will burn 106 calories walking a mile, while one weighing 125# burns only 67. In order to lose one pound, 3,500 calories must be burned whether you’re slim or overweight. This fact means it takes much more effort at the gym to lose a pound as a slim person compared to an overweight one.

5. You Can Out-Exercise a Bad Diet. FALSE. No amount of running on the treadmill, lifting weights and going to kick-boxing classes will result in weight loss if your diet is non-nutritive and high in calories. The majority of successful weight loss stories begin and end at the table. What we eat, when we eat and portion control will either support or sabotage your weight loss efforts.

6. Coffee or Energy Drinks Can Help You Lose Weight. FALSE. If it were only this simple. Although caffeine in these drinks acts as an appetite suppressant temporarily, it’s effect on boosting metabolism is negligible. However, clear evidence on the benefits of caffeine pre-exercise is noted in the exercise physiology realm. Drinking a 12 oz. cup of black coffee (ahem-that’s minus the cream, sugar and vanilla syrup) 30-60 minutes before exercise aids in performance, endurance and possibly a reduction in pain, supplying about 200 mg caffeine.

7. Fat Makes You Fat. FALSE. The right kind of fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), eaten in modestly reasonable amounts is not your enemy. Fat keeps you fuller longer than carbohydrates or protein and promote the absorption of some key nutrients, like certain vitamins. Eating a low fat diet usually means eating a high carbohydrate diet, and THAT most definitely leads to weight gain. The avoidance of saturated fats and trans fats is not that they make you gain weight, it’s that they promote cardiovascular disease.

8. Sleep is an Important factor for Successful Weight Loss. TRUE. Sleep deprivation leads to a resistance in Leptin and Gherelin- two hormones in your gut that act mainly to regulate appetite and fat storage. Leptin Resistance results in feeling hungry all the time and stalls your metabolism. Strive for at least 6 hours per night.

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