Scientific Nutrition defines ‘Metabolism’ as…
And today we are going to clear the air around metabolism…
We shall look at following three things –
- What is Metabolism?
- Metabolism and Weight Loss.
- Metabolism Myths
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism refers to the set of ALL CHEMICAL PROCESSES that occur in living organisms to maintain life.
The three most important purposes of metabolism are –
- Covert food to fuel for the body
- Convert fuel to the building blocks of the body
- Eliminate wastes
So digestion is not metabolism. However, they have a few overlaps. But they are in no way the absolute same things.
Digestion is the journey your food undergoes in your body; right from chewing to absorption to excretion.
But metabolism processes are at cellular levels. For example, breaking of cells, creation of new cells, absorption of nutrients by cells etc.
So just because you visit the loo 3 times a day and your friend does only once doesn’t mean that her metabolism is faster than yours!
So, now that you have a clear picture of metabolism is and know that metabolism and digestion are completely different things, let’s move on!
Metabolism and Weight Loss
Better Metabolism –> Faster Weight Loss!
In simple words, a more efficient metabolism refers to a metabolism which burns a lot of calories!
Wait… what are calories doing in this discussion?
Well, the nutrition world is a small place!
When you eat something, it gets absorbed, digested and excreted, right?
And all these are chemical reactions taking place inside your body. And as we have learned in school, chemical reactions either produce heat or absorb heat!
The reactions which produce heat are called catabolic reactions and the ones which absorb heat are called anabolic reactions.
Anabolic reactions are associated with joining smaller pieces to form a large piece.
The catabolic reactions release heat and this heat is absorbed by anabolic reactions to complete the reaction.
Source Metabolism = Catabolism + Anabolism
Too much science, we know! But the understanding of the above is necessary for the understanding of metabolism.
So the faster these reactions take place the more efficient is your metabolism.
But what does this mean? Is faster metabolism better than a slower one?
Well, this is a point we shall talk about in detail in our first metabolism myth.
What does the rate or efficiency of metabolism depend upon?
A lot of things, actually!
There isn’t one parameter that can determine your metabolism rate.
Factors like your body composition – blood, bones, muscle, fat etc. Your activeness, passiveness, laziness and eagerness. And a lot more factors we still even don’t know about yet!
So, metabolism and weight loss certainly have a relationship which brings us to the first of our metabolism myths…
Which is better – Faster Metabolism or Slower Metabolism?
A faster metabolism is better for weight loss than a slower metabolism.
So a person with a faster metabolism will lose weight faster than a person with a slower metabolism.
Have you heard of BMR? Basal Metabolism Rate?
Basal Metabolism Rate or BMR is an indicator of how many calories you burn when you are doing absolutely nothing.
Remember metabolism is always happening in the background so calories are continuously being burned. Even when you are sleeping!
So the better your BMR, the faster you lose weight.
Salary is a perfect metabolism analogy.
Salary has two components – Fixed and Variable, right?
Consider BMR as the fixed component. BMR tells about the minimum number of calories you will burn no matter what, just like you get the fixed component of your salary no matter what.
Variable component is the set of your other activities that will be counted as surplus. So in terms of our metabolism discussion, this is exercise.
If perform better at your workplace, complete targets etc you get a higher variable pay. Similarly, if you eat well and exercise regularly your metabolism becomes faster.
So, a faster metabolism is better than a slower metabolism.
Many People Ask Us Whether A Person’s Metabolism Rate Can Be Changed…
One word answer. Yes.
Your metabolism rate can be changed. It is not a constant and certainly can be varied using different techniques.
Like we said, metabolism depends upon a lot of factors. Your body composition, gender, age, activity, sleeping habits etc.
So, since all of these change for you several times during your lifetime, so does metabolism!
Metabolism slows down with age. Aging also weakens your bones, but that is a different issue! (Read more about weak bones, low calcium levels and the best calcium sources here!)
But can you control aging? You cannot! So controlling changes in metabolism rates due to aging is impossible.
But can you control your body composition? Yes! You can!
How? By Exercising!
When you exercise, you burn fat, develop muscles and strengthen bones. So you are essentially changing your body composition in a very small way every time you exercise.
If you start exercising regularly, your metabolism will start increasing.
This is the reason why regular exercising is a must do for people trying to lose weight.
Green Tea/ Honey Lemon Water/ Chillies Boost Metabolism?
This is a pure myth.
YouTube is replete with videos which teach you how to prepare ‘fat cutter drink’ or ‘detox drink.’ But all this is just farce!
Green tea is highly overrated. We aren’t saying it is bad, but it is marketed as something it is not!
It has a healthy amount of antioxidants which prevent aging and also other nutrients which can be found in your usual cup of tea.
But merely drinking a couple of cups of green tea everyday doesn’t guarantee weight loss.
“There is conflicting evidence about the effects of green tea in obese people. Some early research shows that certain specific green tea extracts (AR25, Exolise, Arkopharma, Carros, France; Sunphenon 90LB, Taiyo Kagaku Ltd, Yokkaichi, Japan; Herbal One Green Tea Extract, Herbal One Co., Ltd., Nakornprathom, Thailand) reduce weight in obese people.
Other early research suggests that drinking green tea or green tea-containing beverages can reduce body weight and body mass index (BMI) in obese adults or children. Also, multi-ingredient products containing green tea might increase weight loss in obese or overweight adults.
The effect of green tea on weight loss seems to be linked with the amount of catechins or caffeine contained in the beverage or supplement. However, some research suggests that taking green tea extracts or drinking green tea does not reduce body weight or BMI.
Overall, research suggests that taking green tea extract along with caffeine seems to slightly reduce BMI, body weight and waist circumference compared to caffeine alone. But, taking green tea extract without caffeine does not seem to reduce weight.”
Moral of the story: Never be fooled by false advertising ploys of profit-seeking companies when it comes to any ‘wonder’ weight loss product.
Honey lemon water or just lemon water is not a ‘fat cutter drink’ either. It doesn’t qualify as one even if you add coriander, apple cider vinegar or ginger/garlic to it.
The reasons for various authority websites or blogs or fitness experts for advising to drink honey lemon water early in the morning are two –
One. The water hydrates your body and the honey and lemon give you an early does of nutrients and antioxidants.
Two. To boost bowel movement.
Everything else that a glass of honey lemon water does is a surplus. And it certainly doesn’t include weight loss.
Another seemingly funny myth is that drinking cold water boosts metabolism.
If this were true, everyone would have drank cold water and been thin as a stick!
Coming to chillies… Again, NO. Chillies do not boost metabolism.
However, it has been established by a number of studies that chillies promote weight loss slightly due to its thermic effects.
Also, we do not wish to plant the idea of eating a lot of chillies in your head since we all have not-so-good experiences with eating food that was a bit too spicy.
Also, there are fad products which claim that they are selling you the concentration of the substance found in chillies which promotes weight loss. Beware of them!
So, although chillies might help you lose a few grams here and there (not more!) they do not boost metabolism.
That Ice-cream You Had At 12 o’clock Last Night Didn’t Slow Down Your Metabolism
We are constantly advised to not eat a lot of food or heavy food for dinner. But ever wondered why?
Because it makes us fat! Right!
But why does it make us fat? Because heavy eating during the night slows down our digestion.
If you can recall any occasion when you had a royal dinner and an upset stomach the following day, you have your answer.
But this hardly happens when we’ve had a royal lunch. Because our lives do not slow down after lunches, they slow down after dinners.
Also, eating a heavy dinner has other disadvantages like bloated stomach, acidity or difficulty in falling asleep.
So, eating heavy dinners does make you fat; but not due to slow metabolism but due to sluggish digestion.
Super Breakfasts Boost Metabolism
Yes, but only if done regularly.
Breakfast Boosts Metabolism
When you wake up you are dehydrated and famished. The lemon water deals with the dehydration whereas your breakfast deals with the starvation.
Eating a good breakfast everyday has shown to keep your metabolism working at full speed for the rest of the day.
However, there have also been studies that say that breakfast might not be the most effective way to boost metabolism (because exercising is the most effective!).
But either way, eating a good breakfast everyday is a great thing to practice for its other umpteen proven benefits!
No! Multiple small meals have as much effect on your metabolism as few (2-3) large meals.
However, multiple small meals are advised for people who wish to lose weight because it has been found that practicing this form of diet promotes weight loss.
Also, multiple small meals mean your digestion becomes more efficient.
But there are downsides to this practice.
If you cannot control the portions of your small meals, this exercise fails!
The motive behind this exercise is to create a calorie deficit by not making the body realise it.
Eating 5-6 meals of 250-300 calories each is better than eating 3 meals of 700-800 calories each.
By doing this you are essentially eating less without being hungry at any point of time.
But does this exercise affect your metabolism? Not really!
Does it affect your weight and digestion? Greatly!
PS This also means that skipping a meal once in a while doesn’t boost metabolism either. It merely acts as a vacation for your digestive system.
Metabolism slows down with age
As your age increases, your organs age as well and their functioning becomes less and less efficient. Your muscle decreases, fat increases, bones become weak. (Did you know bones start becoming weak as soon as you hit 30?)
All this changes your body composition drastically into something that cannot create or sustain efficient metabolism.
So, metabolism slows down with age. Exactly the reason why physical activity becomes so important once you are no longer in your 30’s!
Again this shows how important physical activity is. So start exercising in any form if you aren’t already!
Now the biggest one…
Skinny Guys Have The Best Metabolism Whereas Fat Guys Have The Worst!
Skinny guys might be skinny because of a good metabolism, but that doesn’t mean that every skinny guy is blessed with a super metabolism.
And of course, if you are comparing a man who goes to the gym everyday with someone who works in front of screens 16 hours a day the gym guys wins!
He improves his metabolism and maintains a high metabolism by exercising everyday in the gym.
But if you ask us, if the gym guy’s BMR is better than the fat guy’s there isn’t a way to tell.
It might be; it might not be… you can never tell.
It is very important to remember this point if you are someone who is trying to lose weight.
Because in our long history of helping people with their health and weight, we have come across people who simply blame their lack of effort and intention to their “slow metabolism.”
Being overweight is not a bad thing, but blaming it on something else other than your decisions and actions is a bad thing and a problem.
Problem because you have already given up by blaming things on metabolism.
At Scientific Nutrition, we have come across all sorts of cases, all sorts of concerns there are in this field.
Our experience of successfully planting health ideas and tips in your mind and hence your routine to make them habits and providing our customers with a sustainable weight loss regime is second to none.