Have you ever heard a celebrity, friend or family member say they are doing something and thought maybe you should try it too? Let’s be honest, we all have at some point. We might even be more apt to try it if this person appears to be fit and healthy. Between diets and workout routines, people love to share the latest craze they are trying, especially on social media. A lot of these fads make claims that will be sure to boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. Since our bodies depend on the very important process of metabolism to convert our food into energy for literally everything that we do, let’s bust 3 myths that have been floating around.
Myth #1: Drinking warm lemon water will detox my body and boost my metabolism.
Nope. Not in the morning, not in the afternoon or anytime of day for that matter. I love water with a couple of lemon slices just as much as the next person and hydration is important for your health for many reasons, but there is no scientific research that shows squeezing lemon juice into warm water has any impact on your metabolism. As far as detoxing is concerned, your liver is doing this for your body and drinking lemon water will make no difference. If you are drinking lemon water because you like the taste of it and it helps you stay hydrated, then go for it, but if you are drinking an excessive amount, do make sure you are checking in with your dentist to monitor for acid erosion on your teeth.
Myth #2: Putting 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in my coffee will help me lose weight.
Wait, what? Creating a reasonable calorie deficit, meaning eat less calories than what your body needs for maintenance, is how you lose weight. Weight loss will not occur by simply adding a source of saturated fat to your coffee. The claim is that since coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride, it helps people feel fuller than when they consume long chain triglycerides. Sure, research shows that satiety plays an important role in weight loss and energy metabolism, but there are other ways to promote the feeling of fullness through lean protein choices and fiber found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. In fact, a systematic review of 14 clinical studies showed inconclusive results on whether medium chain triglycerides are effective as a treatment for obesity. Also, does drinking the extra 240 calories and 26 grams of saturated fat in two tbsp of coconut oil truly fit in your calorie range to get on track with your weight loss goals? It could be part of your plan but you would need to make other changes too. In general, I don’t recommend drinking your calories if you are trying to lose weight. Compare this to flavored coffee creamer, which has 30 calories and 1 g of fat per tbsp. Check out our other blog on coconut oil to learn more.
Myth #3: It doesn’t matter if I eat white bread or whole wheat bread. They are the same amount of calories.
“My doctor said that they are the same amount of calories so it doesn’t matter,” a client who was trying to lose weight once told me. Sorry doc, but there is more to metabolism than just calories. Whole grains, such as 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice, contain more fiber than their refined counterparts such as white bread, white pasta and white rice. Refined grains are quickly metabolized into blood sugar whereas whole grains take longer to digest, keep your blood sugar steady and help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. So if you are creating a calorie deficit to lose weight, quality food choices do matter.
What are the proven methods of improving your metabolism?
As we age and lose lean muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia, there is a natural decline in our basal metabolic rate, usually about 1-2% per decade as we reach adulthood. However, there are a few basic principles that will help generally healthy people alter their metabolism.
- Avoid skipping meals. It’s really important that you start out your day by eating breakfast and then continue to eat at balanced meals and planned snacks throughout the day. This helps us manage hunger and prevents us from consuming excess calories.
- Physical activity is also a key factor in the metabolism equation. Exercise helps us burn calories and build muscle. Keep in mind that the longer and more intense that your workout is, the more calories your body will burn.
- Make sure you are also getting adequate sleep too. Research shows that lack of sleep can change hormone levels that affect appetite and energy metabolism, such as leptin, insulin and cortisol.
The bottom line is that you can skip the latest fad, and instead follow a healthy eating pattern, exercise regularly and get enough sleep to effectively change your metabolism.