Metabolism is a word that is misused all too often these days, with so many people blaming their oh-so-slow metabolism for not achieving their health and fitness goals.
To put it simply, your metabolism refers to how many calories your body burns throughout the day. Your body still burns calories while at rest, as you expend energy through breathing, keeping your heart beating and sustaining your muscles. Therefore, your metabolic rate demonstrates how many calories you’d burn if you just lay in bed all day resting.
But how much of what we think we know about our metabolism is fact and how much is fiction? We are going to dispel the myths and offer some practical tips on how to give your metabolism a boost.
Myth: Slimmer people have naturally-fast metabolisms
You’ve probably heard the notion that “skinny” people have naturally higher metabolic rates, yet this is not strictly true.
While genetics do play an important role in determining your metabolism, it also depends on how much you weigh and how active your lifestyle is. For example, someone who weighs 230 pounds will have a much faster metabolism than someone who weighs 130 pounds, as their body is carrying around a greater amount of weight and therefore they will use more energy during their daily processes to keep their bodies ticking over.
Tip: Complete HIIT training to raise metabolic rate
While regular exercise does increase your metabolism for a couple of hours after completing a workout, participating in high-intensity interval training can significantly raise it for a prolonged period of time.
HIIT is performed by alternating between bursts of high-intensity exercise from 30 seconds to a minute, completing periods of rest for 2-3 minutes and then repeating the process multiple times. Your body expels greater amounts of energy post-exercise, as it works harder to recover back to the levels it was pre-exercise.
Myth: You have no control over the metabolism you were born with
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about metabolism; people assume that they are overweight because they have a slow metabolism and there is nothing they can do to change this. Unless you have a genuine medical issue, such as an underactive thyroid, you can certainly take steps to speed up your metabolism such as increasing the intensity of your exercise, lifting weights and eating smaller meals at more frequent intervals.
Tip: Lift weights
Lifting weights increases your metabolism for up to 39 hours after exercise, according to Body Building Online, compared to just performing cardio alone. This is due to the strain that lifting weights has on your muscles, as it actually breaks the muscles down and rebuilds them so it takes a longer amount of time to recover and thus burns more energy in the process. Ouch, no wonder you feel so sore the next day!
Myth: Spicy foods will boost your metabolism
Eating spicy foods and drinking highly-caffeinated drinks, such as green tea, may have been accredited with altering your metabolism temporarily but there is no evidence that they will have long-lasting effects which can lead to weight loss.
The short increase in metabolic rate will not be enough to influence weight loss and therefore it is a much more sensible idea to try and increase your metabolism through exercise and lifting weights.
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