Here are 7 myths and facts about metabolism and how it can influence our weight.
1. MYTH: THE BEST TIME TO WORK OUT IS IN THE MORNING
FACT: The best time to exercise is one that works best for you. When you’re motivated and alert, you’ll work harder and longer at your activity. Many people choose the morning to get it out of the way, while others truly feel energized and refreshed with a jump start to their day. Know yourself, and choose what works best for you. What counts is the intensity and duration of your workout.
2. MYTH: HAVE A SPORTS DRINK BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT TO BOOST ENERGY AND METABOLISM
FACT: Most of us don’t need the sugars (energy) and electrolytes to boost energy for a workout of an hour or less. One of the most well-documented effects on stimulating metabolic rate (and used by many athletes), is to consume water and a caffeinated product prior to a workout. Have a cup of coffee or tea about 200 mg’s prior to your exercise, to get a metabolic boost. Avoid high-potency caffeinated drinks, or pills. Check with your doctor if you have a caffeine sensitivity, as 200 mg might be too high to meet your needs.
3. MYTH: EXERCISE IS THE ONLY THING THAT CAN ALTER METABOLISM
FACT: While it is true that exercise stimulates metabolic rates while you are actively exercising (and an hour or two afterwards) a HUGE factor altering metabolic rate is AGE. After each decade, starting around age 30, our metabolic rate (how many calories our bodies need to run normally) DROPS about 5%. This means that every 10 years, just to maintain our current weight we’ve got to each lose about 100-150 fewer calories a day. This is important to consider when thinking about long term weight loss and maintenance.
4. MYTH: THE BEST BREAKFAST TO JUMP START OUR DAY IS A CARBOHYDRATE MEAL
FACT: Fiber rich carbohydrates (fruits/vegetables or whole grains) are a great part of any meal, and an easy early morning choice. A meal containing some protein and fat as well can be a better choice. The protein, to boost protein contentment and muscle energy before a workout; the fat, to help keep you satiated for a longer time (slows the rate of food exiting the stomach, which is why you feel fuller). A mix of 40-50% carbohydrates; 25-30% protein, and 25-30% fat is a reasonable goal.
5. MYTH: NOT EATING AFTER 7 PM HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT FASTER
FACT: Fewer calories help you lose weight faster! It’s fine to eat a after 7, but not a giant meal - maybe 200-300 calories no closer than 2 hours before bedtime. For those of you who like a small snack within 30 minutes of hitting the sack, limit the calories to about 100. It’s uncomfortable to sleep with a full stomach - and sleep can be interrupted, and digestion of food in the horizontal position is not the best…think gravity!
6. MYTH: BOOST YOUR ENERGY WITH A SUGAR-TREAT IN THE LATE AFTERNOON
FACT: Many of us, even with a healthy lunch feel the need for a “pick me up” in the late afternoon. When that fatigue hits, many people reach for a sugary treat, for the “quick energy”. While most of us can benefit from a modest snack between lunch and dinner - think of a mixed snack with all 3 macronutrients - carbohydrate, fat, and protein. A low-fat cheese stick with a 100 calorie pack of crackers is great, or a yogurt, or even a protein bar under 200 calories. Think 150-200 calories here, to support your overall calorie plan….that’s enough calories to keep you satisfied until dinner. Plus, with a late afternoon snack, you’ll be less likely to overeat at dinner, as you will avoided getting over-hungry from a mini-fast since lunch.
7. MYTH: EATING 6 SMALL MEALS A DAY IS BETTER FOR WEIGHT LOSS THAN 3 MEALS A DAY
FACT: Know yourself. Many people do just fine with 3 meals a day, and meet their calorie needs without mid-meal snacking. Your blood sugar can regulate just fine this way (check with your doctor if you suspect hypoglycemia, or have other needs to eat more often). This can actually harm a weight reduction plan, if you’re a “grazer”, since eating more often goes along with eating more frequently. Again, for weight loss, it’s the number of calories in and out that counts. Whether 3 or 6 meals a day - keep your calories balanced, with a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.