The balance of these processes is called metabolism. It is thanks to the metabolism that we live, breathe and think, and in our body blood circulates, food is digested, all the necessary hormones are produced.
Metabolism in different people can vary significantly. It depends on the composition of the body (muscles require more energy), gender (men usually need more calories than women) or age (the main metabolism decreases with age). Genetics also affects metabolism, how strong this influence is, scientists do not yet know. Genetics clearly plays a role in the ability to build muscle (and this affects metabolism).
Many people mistakenly believe that we can influence the metabolic rate and thereby control our weight. In general, metabolism is the process by which the body turns food and drinks into energy. More specifically, metabolism is a complex of biochemical reactions: catabolism (decay or destruction processes) and anabolism (synthesis and accumulation processes).
The energy that comes with food and drinks is used in three main ways.
- The first is the main metabolism. It accounts for about 50-70% of energy. The main exchange is what the body needs for basic actions. That is, even when you are at rest, the body needs energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, blood circulation, regulating hormone levels, building new cells.
- About 10% of the calories received is spent on digesting food.
- The latter method, the most variable, may require 10 to 40% of energy. It’s about physical activity. So, the average office worker needs about 2,500 calories, and swimmer Michael Phelps needs 12,000.
Myth No. 1: thin people have a fast metabolism, and people who are prone to fullness have a slow metabolism. To lose weight, you need to accelerate the metabolism
Metabolism is often blamed for weight gain and difficulty in losing weight, but most of the metabolism is aimed at maintaining our vital activity, and not at controlling weight. Not more than 5% of cases of overweight are associated with diseases of the endocrine system, still maintaining weight, increasing or decreasing it are complex processes that are influenced by many factors, such as genetics, diet, physical activity, sleep, stress and hormones.
But the scientific community agrees : you gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit.
Let’s not fool ourselves. The fact that that thin man over there eats a lot and does not grow fat is a myth. If you count the calories that he consumes and burns, the consumption will not exceed the loss. If you are gaining weight, then you are doing something wrong. For example, you began to move less, changed the quality or volume of food consumed. However, this is not always obvious. A food diary will help you figure it out (you can use the application on your phone).
When keeping a diary, calorie counting is not so important as what you eat: whether there are vegetables and fruits in the diet, how many of them, do you consume carbohydrates in the form of whole grain foods or abuse unhealthy snacks, do you forget to eat proteins. If in a couple of days you did not identify the problem, continue to keep a diary and do not forget to show it to the doctor. Probably,
Of course, there are variants of genes associated with metabolic processes, but the “obesity gene” will not make your waist more voluminous if you follow a lifestyle. Interestingly, it was these gene variants that allowed our ancestors to survive during periods of hunger, so most of us got it. The situation changed with the advent of a refrigerator in humanity. And if your refrigerator gains two hundred views per night, then blaming genes is still impractical.
Myth # 2: Water Accelerates Metabolism
Often for weight loss it is advised to drink water, because it helps to disperse the metabolism. There is a study according to which 500 milliliters of water can increase the basic energy consumption quite a bit.
Scientists have repeatedly tried to confirm the hypothesis that the consumption of pure water changes the metabolic rate. It has been shown that simple drinking water has one wonderful effect: it replaces high-calorie drinks and, as a result, allows you to control body weight. The hypotheses that the consumption of pure water helps lower cholesterol or blood pressure, unfortunately, do not have scientific evidence.
Myth number 3: you need to eat often to speed up the metabolism. And if there is rarely, the metabolism will slow down
In many dietary programs, you can find a recommendation to eat every three hours. Allegedly, this helps to control weight and speeds up metabolism. From a psychological point of view, this approach is based on the fact that eating every three hours helps not to feel nutritional restrictions – you know exactly when you will eat. In addition, you will not feel hungry at all.
About 10% of the metabolism is spent on digesting food. It would seem that if you eat more often, then you increase the energy consumption for digesting this food. But in fact, there is no evidence that this significantly affects the metabolism.
A large number of studies indicate an insignificant positive effect of fractional nutrition, with the caveat that the portions should be small and the intake of calories should not exceed energy consumption.
Scientists note the importance of a balance of nutrition and physical activity. At the same time, visiting the gym is optional, the minimum amount of physical activity per week is 150 minutes of walking with a calm step, cycling or swimming. A more important aspect of maintaining a healthy body weight is the regularity of nutrition. There is evidence that for people with diabetes, two standard meals (breakfast and lunch) allow you to more effectively control weight than meals six times a day.
Myth # 4: Some foods can speed up your metabolism (like coffee or hot peppers). Special additives also help.
Foods such as green tea, coffee, or hot chili peppers can have a slight and short effect on metabolic rate. However, this is not enough to change your weight.
Regarding special supplements, Mayo Clinic experts urge not to use dietary supplements and vitamins for burning calories and weight loss. Most often, such supplements do not have proven effectiveness, and some of them can cause unwanted or even dangerous side effects. It is important to remember that supplements are not controlled as medications, therefore it is impossible to say how effective and safe they are.
Capsaicin, a substance found in hot pepper, is known to control appetite due to the onset of a feeling of fullness. It is also known that some people tend to seize spicy foods with a large amount of food, and fatty foods (such as fatty milk) reduce the sensation of a sharp taste more effectively than plain water. Therefore, hot pepper is a dubious product in the fight against excess weight.
Coffee, namely caffeine, reduces the risk of death from a huge number of diseases, especially neurodegenerative (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, dementia), cardiovascular, some types of cancer, as well as liver cirrhosis. But it is important to maintain a balance: no more than 1-3 standard cups of caffeinated coffee per day.
Myth number 5: metabolism depends on the time of day. Metabolism slows down when there is a lack of sleep, and to increase metabolism, you need to sleep in a cold room
On the one hand, a good night’s sleep does not positively affect your metabolism, but on the other hand, you can gain weight without proper sleep. First, people who sleep poorly tend to consume more calories than they need (perhaps to cope with a feeling of fatigue). Secondly, studies confirm: lack of sleep can negatively affect leptin and ghrelin – hormones that control weight (they affect hunger and satiety).
Some studies show that lack of sleep and poor sleep quality correlate with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, increased appetite and obesity. As for sleeping in a cold room, there is evidence that this can reduce the likelihood of metabolic problems in the future.
Myth # 6: Metabolism Slows with Age
Unfortunately, this is not a myth. Age does affect metabolic rate. As a person grows up, energy costs decrease. And the older a person becomes, the less he goes in for sports and generally supports physical activity. In this regard, the amount of muscle mass may decrease. WHO advises people over 65 to engage in physical activity for a total of 150 minutes per week. This will help maintain good health.
With age, the level of female sex hormone – estrogen – naturally decreases, along with the extinction of ovarian function and the onset of menopause. Cholesterol levels increase – with the same lifestyle, body weight and waist volume increase, bones lose calcium, and as a result, the risk of heart attacks and fractures increases. During the period of perimenopause, it is important to consult a gynecologist or endocrinologist; in the absence of absolute contraindications, menopausal hormone therapy will be prescribed, which will allow to maintain or restore youth.
In men, the same problems are associated with decreased testosterone levels. At the same time, a waist of more than 110 centimeters is the main factor in reducing testosterone for men at any age. The ideal value, regardless of growth, is less than 94 centimeters. For women, the target waist is less than 80 centimeters.