Friday, 3 January 2014

True or False, Metabolism Talk

We all know someone who seems to be able to eat as much as they like and never put on weight.  Is it all down to fast metabolism, lucky inherited genes, or is there more to it than meets the eye? 

First, to understand what’s true or false when it comes to claims about metabolism, we need to understand exactly what metabolism is:

·        Metabolism is the bodily process of breaking down food and converting that food into energy, together with the rate at which the body burns that energy (calories).

Looking at the above statement, you can see that it’s not just about the breaking down of foods, but the converting that food into energy and the rate at which you use that energy, i.e. the more active you are.

For the majority of people, the body actually uses up around 60-70% of their daily energy expenditure performing everyday basic bodily functions, including resting and sleeping.  The metabolic active tissue in the body is actually the MUSCLE.  Because men generally have more muscle mass than women, a woman’s metabolic rate is slightly lower than a man’s.  The truth here then is that a man will burn more calories than a woman performing the same activity.

·         FALSE – Men and women have the same metabolism.
·         TRUE – The more muscle mass you have, the faster your  metabolism will be.
·         TRUE – Men generally have a faster metabolism than women.
·         TRUE – Men generally burn more calories than women performing  the same activity.

As we age, we do experience a gradual loss of muscle mass which results in a gradual decline in our metabolic rate, leaving us with a slower metabolism.  Women’s muscle density starts to decline earlier in life than men’s, so a woman’s metabolism will slow down sooner than a man’s (as much as 10 years sooner).  The good news is that people can do something about their metabolism slowing down as they get older, by building their muscles up with regular strength-training exercises.

·         FALSE – Metabolism stays the same whatever your age.
·         FALSE – Men and women’s metabolism starts to slow down at the same age.
·         TRUE – Metabolism does slow down as we age.
·         TRUE – You can speed up your metabolism by building up your  muscle mass.

Another key factor as far as metabolism is concerned is burning up calories (energy).  Although our bodies use some of the energy from foods for its everyday bodily functions, we generally don’t use up or need all the energy/calories we consume.  Watching the amount you eat combined with physical activity is again an important factor in helping to control our metabolism.  The truth is if you are a more active person, then you will have a faster metabolism.

·         FALSE – Physical activity makes no difference to your metabolism.
·         TRUE – Regular exercise and being physically active will help to  speed up your metabolism.

Calories consumed are turned into energy.  If you consume more calories than you can burn through everyday bodily functions and other activities, that energy will be stored as fat, which will eventually result in weight gain.  It’s important to eat a balanced healthy diet.  Try to limit foods that contain high amount of fats and/or sugars and refined carbohydrates.    Simple carbohydrates like sugar and refined carbohydrates (like white bread) should be avoided or limited because it is quickly converted by the body into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. The pancreas then produces insulin to take the sugar from the blood and store it as energy (this becomes your fat store).  Whole grains (complex carbohydrates) take the body longer to digest, will make your metabolism work harder, and will also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

·         FALSE – There is no difference on metabolism between simple carbohydrates and complex  carbohydrates.
·         TRUE – Complex carbohydrates make your metabolism work harder.

Try to eat more lean protein, like fish, chicken, eggs, nuts and beans.  The body uses the amino acids which are broken down from the protein for maintaining the organs, blood and muscles.  Remember that muscle mass plays an important role when it comes to metabolism.  In addition, because protein takes longer to digest, it will make your metabolism work harder and will also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

·         FALSE – Protein is bad for your metabolism.
·         TRUE – Protein helps to increase your metabolism.

Try to eat regularly and don’t miss meals.  Missing meals will slow down your metabolism.  If you are not eating enough, the body will store food as fat in preparation for deprivation.  Eating frequent smaller meals will help to keep your metabolism working at a higher rate and will also help to stabilize blood sugar levels.  It’s important not to skip breakfast in the morning.  Your metabolism will have slowed down overnight so eating in the morning will help to speed it up.

·         FALSE – It’s better for your metabolism to eat one or two big meals a day.
·         FALSE – It’s better for your metabolism to skip breakfast.
·         TRUE – Eating frequent smaller meals will help to increase your  metabolism.
·         TRUE – Eating breakfast helps to give your metabolism a kick-start in  the morning.

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