By Brenda Goodman
WebMD Health News
There are lots of myths out there about resting metabolism. Kevin Hall, PhD, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, has heard them all. Here’s what he has to say about three of the most common ones:
Myth 1: Eating more frequently, about every 3 hours, will rev the body’s metabolic engine.
Digestion is hard work. It costs the body a certain amount of calories to digest and absorb food. Overall, the body must burn, or “spend,” about 10% of all the calories you eat every day. The more you eat in terms of calories, the more this contributes to your overall calorie burn.
“It doesn’t matter if you break that up into one meal or three or six,” he says. It’s the overall total number of calories, not how often you eat, that counts.
Myth 2: Building muscle with resistance training will boost your metabolism.
This one is kind of true, but not to the degree many people think. Gain a kilogram of muscle — or about 2 pounds — and you can expect to burn about 13 more calories a day when you’re not exercising. “That’s nothing,” Hall says.
So why would anyone do weight training at all? Having strong muscles helps protect your joints and bones. It improves posture and balance. And good muscle tone is a lot more attractive than flab.
Myth 3: Midlife weight gain is only caused by your slowing metabolism.
Age doesn’t have a big impact on metabolism until your senior years, Hall says.
Up until about age 50, metabolism slows about 7 calories for each year of age. So the difference between your metabolism at age 30 compared with age 40 is just 70 calories a day.
To make up the difference, be sure to increase your physical activity, adjust your daily calories, or both.