Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to lower your cancer risk. Often, when we talk about losing weight, we talk about our metabolism.
The word metabolism has a broad definition and can mean many things. Most often, it refers to the chemical process our bodies use to break down food and other substances so we can use it for energy.
With diet and exercise, there are many myths about how to live your healthiest life. This goes for how your metabolism works, too. We spoke with Brook Knox, a senior clinical dietitian at MD Anderson in Katy, to clear up some common metabolism myths.
Eating breakfast can help boost your metabolism.
Myth. “Eating breakfast doesn’t necessarily increase your metabolic rate,” Knox says. But many people who skip breakfast tend to snack more and eat more calories throughout the rest of the day. This can result in unwanted weight gain. Eating a healthy breakfast can help you control your appetite.
Eating six small meals a day is best for your metabolism.
Myth. Eating six small meals a day can give you the energy you need as you burn calories throughout the day. But does it have to be six? There’s no evidence that eating six times a day burns more calories. Three meals and a snack are just as beneficial, Knox explains. What you’re eating and the portion size is more important.
“Overall calorie impact is the key,” she says.
Eating after 8 p.m. will cause you to gain weight.
Myth. In terms of your metabolism, it doesn’t matter when you eat. But you’ll feel better if you eat most of your calories during the day when we’re more active and burn more energy. If you’re hungry before you go to bed, eat low fat items that can be digested easily, like yogurt or cottage cheese.
Not getting enough sleep can slow your metabolism.
True. Sleep deprivation can have an indirect effect on metabolism. Feeling tired makes you less likely to be active. And that feeling of fatigue can often be mistaken for hunger because your body needs energy, which can lead you to overeat. Make sure you’re getting enough rest. Most people need eight hours a night. That way, you’ll have enough energy to exercise the next day.
Most people who struggle with losing weight have a slow metabolism.
Myth. Your body’s metabolic rate is a reflection of your lean body mass, your age, your sex and your activity level. Unless you have an untreated thyroid condition, an abnormally slow metabolism is a very rare medical condition.
Coffee and tea can help you speed up your metabolism.
True. While drinking coffee and tea can help jumpstart your metabolism, it won’t make enough of a difference for you to see physical changes or lose weight.
“There’s no silver bullet when it comes to increasing your metabolism,” Knox says.
To see real changes, including weight loss, she recommends maintaining a healthy diet and exercising.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.