The Truth About Your Metabolism

News and Advice
on June 22, 2011
Media Bakery


Myth: There’s not much we can do about the fact that our metabolism slows as we age.

Fact: What really happens as we age is that we lose muscle, our metabolic engine. We can protect against muscle loss and the resulting drop in metabolic rate by staying active, especially by strength training using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, kettlebells and the like. 


Myth: Eating grapefruit speeds your metabolism. 

Fact: Sorry, there’s no magic to grapefruit, unless of course you count the great taste and nutrition it offers. But while it doesn’t help us burn calories any faster, it may have some important health effects. A recent study showed improvements in blood cholesterol levels when grapefruit was eaten before meals. Now there’s some magic for ya!


Myth: High-intensity workouts are the best way to get weight-loss results.

Fact: That depends on how long you’re working out. Certainly, for the same period of time, you’ll burn more calories if you’re working out harder. But you can get the same calorie burn at lower intensity, too, just by increasing the duration of your workout.  So if you’re not up to running, walk a little longer. Also—important point here—don’t exercise just for the calorie burn; do it because it feels good. That way, you’ll keep at it. 


Myth: Spicy foods fire up your metabolism.  

Fact: Research does suggest that spicy foods can temporarily increase the rate at which we burn calories, but the effect is so short-lived, it doesn’t have a significant impact. Some studies show spicy foods help us feel more satisfied, however, so there may be benefit there—as long as you’re getting your spice in, say, a peppery stir-fry instead of greasy tortilla chips and salsa.


Myth: Our metabolism is genetically determined, and we’re stuck with it.

Fact: Actually, there’s a lot we can do to change what we were born with– and send it in the wrong direction. Not eating regular, well-balanced, healthy meals, not getting enough sleep, and not staying physically active can act alone or in combination to weigh our bodies down. These healthy living basics keep our bodies functioning at their best.

Bottom line: There’s no quick fix for a healthy metabolism.  A steady focus on taking the best care of ourselves as possible wins hands down every time.


Marsha Hudnall, RD, MS, CD, is a nationally known nutritionist with more than 25 years experience as a weight management specialist. She is the owner and program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women’s weight loss spa that pioneered an approach to losing weight and keeping it off without dieting.  She serves on several boards and has authored seven books on health and healthy weight loss.

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