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One day, it’s no carbs. Another day, it’s eating more protein. The messy romance between metabolism and weight loss can be confusing, like the lifestyles of some pop stars. The good news is that you won’t need to deal with chasing a new metabolic fad every week, if you’d just let us untangle that convoluted jumble for you. After we’re done dispelling the myths of metabolism, your diet plan will be right as rain.

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1. You should eat little but often

food in your skincare

The metabolic advice is that you should have six small meals, instead of three normal-sized meals. The theory was that if you went more than three hours without food, your metabolism would slow down, and you’d start storing fat.

The truth, however, is that eating so regularly might actually increase your caloric intake instead, especially if you’re not very well-versed in nutrition. Additionally, there is no evidence that indicates that you need to eat every three hours or your metabolism will shut down. You’re not an Olympic athlete who needs to eat six meals a day to keep muscle mass, so your three square meals a day are more than sufficient!

2. Cardio will effectively increase your metabolism

treadmill for cardio exercises

Cardio does increase your metabolism, but it’s a drag and not as efficient. Running 1km only burns about 70-80 calories, and you have to push yourself pretty hard to get those results. Post-run metabolism benefits last for the next 24 hours, but you basically drop back into the normal energy burning region after that.

A much more efficient method of increasing metabolism, is by increasing lean muscle mass. Don’t worry, you don’t have to look like a bodybuilder to get benefits! All you need to do, is to challenge yourself with body weight exercises in order to strengthen those muscles. As your muscles get leaner and stronger, your body needs more energy just to sustain those muscles. So, it starts shredding through fat to get what it needs to feed those muscles. Your muscles, are literally eating away at your fat reserves.

3. Eating spicy food will increase metabolism

The act of eating spicy food increases heart rate, and encourages a state of para-sympathetic distress. Sweating, heavy breathing and pain are all part of this physical response. Some people think that this is a good way to burn calories.

The truth? Spicy foods give such a small increase in metabolic rate that it is not worth the pain. You’re not going to lose any weight eating chilli. You’re more likely to get diarrhoea and that’s not fun at all.

4. You can’t lose weight because you have a slow metabolism

lose weight

This is true for maybe a very small fraction of the population. For everyone else, it’s a convenient excuse. Our metabolisms vary, but not to the degree that we’d not be able to lose weight. In fact, if you’re not losing weight, it’s one or more of these things:

  • Lack of portion control
  • Invisible sugar intake from liquids (coffee, soft drinks, etc)
  • Lack of physical activity

Already exercise? Increase frequency and intensity. Eating well? Check how many calories you’re consuming. If you look into the details, we’re quite sure you’ll fix your “slow metabolism” problem.

5. Gluten-free diet helps increase metabolism

You might have heard advocates of gluten-free diets, saying they result in higher metabolisms. But there’s absolutely zero science to back up this claim, which is being hawked by proponents of the gluten-free diet. For weight loss, we highly recommend taking high-fibre foods that are scientifically proven to fill your tummy for longer, without adding more calories to your diet.

6. Iced water increases your metabolism

Yes, it does. But only by 8 calories per glass of water. So you’re going to have to drink a lot of iced water to lose even 1kg of weight. By the time you get there, you’d have died from water poisoning. The body is trying to compensate for the dip in body temperature by burning more calories to stay warm. This is why you shiver when you feel cold! That said, you’re going to need a drastic drop in temperature and prolonged exposure to the cold. There are better ways to lose weight, so don’t bother with this one.

7. You have no control over metabolism

weight loss plans

“It’s genetic!” we have often heard.

It’s very important to know that regardless of your genetics, everything you do (or not) affects your metabolism. You have a large locus of control when it comes to your metabolism. Regular exercise, proper meals and good sleep cycles give you a tremendous advantage over any pre-determined conditions that your genetics impose upon you. Don’t accept what you’re given as all you will ever be.

8. Everything eaten late at night turns into fat

food cravings

It’s not all that simple or direct. Your body is like a car that needs fuel, so if your tank has already been topped off, then any food consumed at any time could be turned into fat. However, if you’ve been physically active or you’ve just not had enough calories put into your body, then fuelling up at 10pm to support your muscles isn’t going to make you any fatter.

Context is the key, so check your body’s condition and then choose if you want to eat or not. Of course, a late night fruit is always better than a midnight roti prata.

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