Metabolism is often thought of as the body’s mysterious chemical equation when it comes to weight gain and loss. Like chemistry, it confuses many of us, especially when factors like illness or menopause are added. “In fact, the body’s metabolism naturally adapts to the needs of our individual body. It doesn’t really make us gain or lose weight. It’s possible to manipulate our metabolism to some degree, and often a small change can help with weight loss,” said Kamraan Madhani, MD, a weight-loss medical specialist at Hartford HealthCare. > Interested in losing weight? Do This Health Risk Assessment Healthy weight loss starts with the same basic principles:
- Stick to the daily calorie intake your body needs (a number set by you and your provider)
- Following a regular training schedule
- Eat things like processed sugar and alcohol in moderation
But, explains Dr. Madhani, understanding the truth behind metabolism—including how it works and the factors that affect it—makes managing weight loss that much easier. > Want more health news? Text MoreLife to 31996 to sign up for text notifications. Here are five common metabolic myths debunked by an expert:
You can’t control your metabolism.
Menopause and the hormone shifts that come with it might make women feel like they’ve lost control of their metabolism, but Dr. Madhani said focusing on what you eat and how you exercise has a huge impact on how your body functions. Working with a medical weight-loss specialist can also help you focus on meeting your body’s vitamin and mineral needs, particularly the metabolism-boosting magnesium.
Superfoods boost metabolism.
Foods like fish, berries and leafy greens have many benefits for your body, but it’s important to consider the other determinants of weight, including calorie balance, macronutrients, physical activity and life stressors, said Dr. Madhani. It’s never a good idea to consume too much of any food, even healthy ones.
Fasting helps boost metabolism.
Any weight loss that results from fasting is generally short-term, with the exception of practices like intermittent fasting when done regularly and long-term, Dr. Madhani. In fact, fasting can slow down metabolism, and research shows that those who fast are more likely to gain weight in the long run.
Metabolism remains the same as we age.
Women know that’s not true, but perhaps the most interesting fact here, said Dr. Madhani, is that our calorie needs naturally decrease as we age, especially when we are sedentary.
Six meals a day are the order of the day.
Eating smaller meals more often can keep you from feeling hungry and binge eating, but there’s no clear correlation between eating more frequently and having an increased metabolism, said Dr. Madhani.