The Myths about Metabolism of the Human Body

The metabolism of the human body is the mechanism that turns food energy into fuel and then turns the fuel into the building blocks of cells as well as into the energy the body uses. People who are trying to gain or lose weight are interested in their metabolism because they want to tilt the balance of energy gained in food and lost in running the body in favor of their goal.

Myths about the metabolism can get in the way of people who are trying to achieve body makeovers. Here are some metabolism myths:

Myth: Eat just one big meal, or many small ones, at particular times, to change your metabolic rate. Fact: It doesn’t matter how many portions you cut your daily calorie intake into, or what time of day you eat them. Your body burns a certain number of energy calories, and you eat a certain number. If you eat more calories in food than your body uses, you will gain weight. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. It is that simple.

Myth: You cannot change your metabolism. Fact: The rate at which you burn calories can change, at least to some degree. A fever will burn calories. So will certain drugs, such as thyroid medicine. (However, thyroid medicine, taken in large enough amounts to speed your metabolism, will likely give you a heart attack and kill you. That’s no myth.)

There are safe ways to change the rate at which you burn calories. Exercise is the primary one. Exercise burns calories and some kinds of exercise increase muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns far more calories per pound than fat does. Muscle is acquired through weight lifting and similar activities that depend upon repeated stressing of muscles.

Myth: Metabolism is the same for young and old, and for men and women. Fact: Most young men have plenty of muscle tissue, while most old women do not. To increase your metabolism, acquire some muscles (see above). Nevertheless, metabolism does slow with age, and is generally slower in women.

Myth: Some pills, or powders, or special foods, can somehow increase metabolism. Fact: There are no magic beans. If you choose to substitute green tea for sodas or root beer floats, your choice may contribute to weight loss. The loss, however, will not be because of the wonders of green tea. It will be because tea has fewer calories than soda.

If you like your body as it is, you can probably ignore the whole question of metabolism. If you want to make weight changes, then you need to unbalance your intake and output of energy. To do that, the first step is to stop believing in the myths about the metabolism of the human body.