Is a slow metabolism getting in the way of your weight loss?
A genetically fast metabolism seems to be the stuff dreams are made of. But is it so simple to blame our weight gain and bloating on a slow metabolism? Or could there be other environmental factors at play?
Is the miracle of metabolism just a myth?
Check out our 5 major findings below!
Myth 1: I can’t lose weight because I was born with a slow metabolism
Verdict: False! Although we are all born with different body types and varying basal metabolic rates (including slow ones), there are a range of environmental factors you control that can help speed up your metabolism.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (otherwise known as BMR) is the rate at which your body burns energy at “rest” – or doing things like sleeping, thinking and building cells. Up to 70% of calories in our body are burnt this way each day. You can improve your BMR through a mixture of aerobic exercise, strength training and good nutrition. But you also need to decrease lifestyle factors which could be affecting it, such as working a sedentary job with little incidental exercise, no planned physical activity and yo-yo dieting.
Myth 2: Brekky is essential for kick-starting metabolism
Verdict: Another myth bites the dust! Studies show that not eating breakfast has no effect on our overall weight loss. What breakfast will do for you is help you to function optimally, both mentally and physically, throughout the day and help you avoid hunger pangs, which can lead to subsequent binge eating. The key is to listen to your body and understand what it needs. If you feel hungry, eat. If you don’t, wait until you do.
Myth 3: Eating lots of little meals will keep my metabolism fire burning
Verdict: Sort of, but not really. While our metabolism is designed to burn the food we ingest, once again it is our BMR that determines the rate of this. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is more about managing portion sizes and avoiding binge eating. Most people function quite well with three meals a day and find it’s more practical for their lifestyle. If you do want to snack, opt for fruit or nuts. The crunch factor with these foods tells your brain you’re eating and switches off your hunger hormones faster than eating foods that don’t require chewing.
Myth 4: My metabolism is getting slower as I get older!
Verdict: Another half-truth. The slowing of metabolism with age is almost completely due to the change in your body composition – an increase in body fat and a decrease in lean muscle mass. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. If your levels of fat and muscle mass remain the same, and at a healthy level (due to eating well and exercising), your metabolism will not be as greatly affected as you age.
There are certain milestones in life, around the 40, 70 and 90-year marks, where muscle mass and bone density will start to decline if this is not counterbalanced with strength training. This decline promotes an increase in body fat and when paired with a sedentary lifestyle, you will find your metabolism slowing down. So, start building a solid base of lean muscle mass to prevent this from happening, and try to keep up an exercise routine that includes regular strength training!
Myth 5: If I work out more it will this help my metabolism
Verdict: Yes! We can’t stress enough how having a sedentary lifestyle is a key factor in how fast or slow your metabolic rate is.
You can improve your metabolism through exercise by:
- Increasing your aerobic fitness. Run, cycle, do anything that makes you huff and puff. And do it often.
- Increasing your muscle mass through weight training. The goal is to increase your metabolically active lean muscle mass. To keep muscle tissue alive, the growth and repair of it requires a lot of energy – energy which fat cells don’t need!
- With weight training, go for the big bang for your buck exercises – these are called compound moves and include things like squats, lunges, pushups, chin-ups and deadlifts.
And if you do live a sedentary lifestyle: fidget often, take the stairs, park further away from the grocery store (AKA increase your incidental exercise as much as possible!).