5 min

 In a world where obesity is one of the major health issues, weight loss naturally is at the centre of many discussions. Millions of people struggle with weight loss and quite often lose the battle because of misinformation. And one such topic, which is surrounded by myths is- the relationship between metabolism and weight loss.  

But before we go on exploring the relationship and busting a few myths, let’s look at the basics.


What is metabolism?

One thing that we often discuss when it comes to bodily health is our ‘metabolism’. It is the process via which your body converts everything you eat or drink (i.e. calories) into energy.

The process goes like this-

When you eat or drink something, the calories from them combine with the oxygen inside your body. This causes a reaction between the two, which results in the release of energy. You further use the energy to function.


BMR (basal metabolic rate) and Weight

We now know that metabolism produces energy that you use to live, breathe, and perform your day to day tasks. Does that mean that you don’t use energy when you are resting or not performing an activity? No, definitely not.

Even when your body is at rest, it is still performing some basic functions. These include breathing, pumping blood throughout the body, and repairing damaged cells. The amount of energy your body consumes while at rest is called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

In other words, BMR is the minimum number of calories your body burns to sustain life when it is at rest. People with slower metabolism need to eat less in comparison to those with higher metabolism rates, in order to maintain their weight.


Metabolism and Weight Loss

Since metabolism is the process of converting/ burning calories, it leads many to believe that a higher metabolic rate equates to weight loss. In fact, a sizeable part of the fitness industry believes that a high metabolic rate is the key to weight loss. Also, as you get fit and lose weight, your metabolism will improve further.

Taking advantage of the belief system, fitness companies/ professionals have come up with different ways they swear will boost your metabolism.

Supplement manufacturers. For example, claim that supplements (i.e. metabolism boosters) or fat burners work in your favour. That if you eat certain supplements, they boost your metabolism and lead to weight loss.

Fitness and consumer goods companies promote the use of superfoods like green tea, honey lemon tea etc. Their marketing teams are hard at work and have led to a common belief that these superfoods are the way to go. Consuming these items is a way to boost metabolism or induce weight loss. 

And then there are fitness professionals/ dieticians who propagate diets like intermittent fasting, portion control, small frequent meals etc. They make you believe that following a particular diet is the one thing you need to do to change your metabolism for the better.

But have you ever taken a moment to contemplate the effectiveness of any of these solutions? We are sure the answer to this question is a big fat- NO.

Well, we hate to break it to you- but none of these so-called remedies actually work the way you want them to.


Say for instance, that you buy into all these claims. You make time from your busy schedule to get in ample exercise. And all your hard work helps you lose weight. But is there anything in the science to support the claims that your metabolism will improve as you get fit. The answer is again negative. And that’s because


Boosting your metabolism while losing weight is a MYTH!

In fact, weight loss might as well have the opposite effect on your BMR than what this myth leads you to expect. Metabolism is evolutionarily designed to down-regulate or slow down as we lose weight. Because that is the main strategy of the human body to adapt to low food consumption and conserve energy.


And to further clarify this myth, we need to have a look at the science behind it- what determines the BMR?


Factors That Determine Basal Metabolism

The factors that determine an individual’s basal metabolism rate are:

·      Body composition and size- People with more and larger muscles burn more calories. That is, more muscles lead to a higher metabolism.

·      Gender/ sex- Statistically, men have more muscle and less body fat in comparison to women. This means that men burn more calories than women of the same age and weight.

Meaning gender affects your metabolism rates.

·      Age- Our muscles tend to decrease and fat composition increases as we age. This means that our metabolism slows down with an increase in our age.

·      Thermogenesis/ food processing

·      Physical activity

Given these various and in keeping with general anatomy the following are the only ways we think you can boost your metabolic rate-

·      Overeating or following a surplus calorie diet

·      An increase in body weight

·      Increase in muscle mass, and a lot of it

·      Gaining fat

Seeing as none of the above mentioned ways are practical to achieve or even sensible, we say chuck the notion of trying to boost your metabolism out the window.