Think you know all there is to know about your metabolism? Well, sorry to say it, but you probably don't. We all want a fast metabolism, but there are so many myths out there on how to amp it up that it's time to lay down the facts. Here, Daily Harvest nutritionist Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, and Senior Director of Nutrition at Virtual Health Partners Rachel Daniels, MS, RD, dispel the common myths you've definitely heard before.
Eating less is not always the answer to weight loss and kicking your metabolism into full gear, says Daniels. "Eating too little food throughout the day can actually have the opposite effect. Your body will try to store calories instead of burning them by going into starvation mode. Think about the quality of the foods that you are eating, and include protein, produce, and fiber regularly in your diet."
This is also not true. "Sure you may have an initial loss, but you body will enter a state of famine and in the end will slow the metabolism in order to not burn through the stores it has," explains Shapiro. "This has the reverse effect and in the end will cause weight gain and a slower metabolism."
"While muscle is more metabolically active than fat, it takes months of dedication in the gym, and in the kitchen, to gain significant lean muscle mass," explains Daniels. "Even if you're able to increase your lean muscle mass and/or reduce your body fat percentage, it won't drastically change your baseline metabolism. So, while I always recommend strength training as a part of a fitness routine, you might still want to rethink that late-night pizza slice."
That being said, it's the pizza—not the timing—that could be throwing off your metabolism. "There isn't much research that shows eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain," says Shapiro. "The reason you may gain weight when eating at night is likely due to mindless snacking and excess calories as opposed to just timing. If you do have to eat at night, then continue to make smart choices and stop eating when you feel satisfied. Meeting your needs won't cause weight gain, but overeating will."
While some studies have shown that certain foods, such as green tea and hot peppers, can increase metabolism, that increase is very minor and very short-lived, says both Shapiro and Daniels. "The truth is, there are no magic metabolism-boosting foods," says Daniels. "A better bet is to focus on eating healthy meals and snacks regularly throughout the day to keep your metabolism moving, rather than focusing on a specific food or food group. No need to be scarfing down hot peppers and washing them down with green tea!"
Yes, your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is likely genetic, but you can change your metabolism by maintaining or increasing your lean muscle mass, explains Shapiro. "Muscle burns more calories at rest, therefore the more of it you have the higher your metabolism."
"This is actually not true," says Shapiro. "Lean individuals tend to have slower metabolic rates than overweight individuals whose bodies burn more calories at rest just due to their size."