You may think you know everything about your metabolism and how to speed it up, but when it comes to our fat-burning furnace, well, it’s complicated. Here are a few common misconceptions about resting metabolism—the number of calories you'd burn if you stayed in bed all day—and the facts.
1. Thin people have a higher metabolism. Actually, it's the other way around: "The more you weigh, the more oxygen your muscles need in order to support that weight and all of your body’s functions,” says Jason Karp, Ph.D. and author of Running for Women. This is why if you lose weight, your metabolism decreases.
2. People of the same weight can have very different metabolism rates. Karp says that metabolism isn't like a fingerprint, and there's not much difference in resting metabolic rate between individuals of the same size and gender.
3. Lifting weights will boost your metabolism. While some studies have reported this, an equal number of studies have found little or no such effect, Karp says. "And of the studies that have shown an increase, the magnitude of change is rather small, about 30 to 100 calories a day. Compare that to the 3,500 calories you need to burn to lose one pound.” The small calorie burn is especially true for women, who don't have the hormones to add a lot of muscle mass, he adds.
4. Human metabolism has evolved since the day of cavemen. This may come as a surprise, but the same factors that determined metabolism rates for our hunter-gatherer ancestors help create our metabolisms now. "As humans, we tend to be arrogant to think that, through a few weeks or months of lifting dumbbells, we can alter a resting metabolic rate that has been set by millions of years of evolution," Karp says. "Cavemen burned more calories because they were much more active, but resting metabolic rate represents the amount of energy our bodies need to sustain life, and that hasn't changed."
Of course, this myth-busting isn’t a reason to give up your workout and start eating solely junk food. While you may not be able to drastically change your metabolism, exercising and following a healthy diet is still the No. 1 one way to get healthy, drop pounds, and feel good.
What metabolism myth blew your mind? Let's discuss!