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8 Ridiculous Myths Everyone Believes About Their Metabolism

263 Comments | Diet

slow metabolism myths

Most people believe their metabolism to be one of the most screwable parts of their body (yeah yeah, vagina butthole haha, grow up). They believe that all their fitness failures and shortcomings are due to messing up and “slowing down” their metabolism and success is solely determined by having a “good” metabolism.

And in this deceptive world of health and fitness, nothing is more misunderstood than your own metabolism. It’s a trendy word no doubt, but so-called “fitness gurus” and marketers are throwing metabolism around way too much nowadays with absolutely no meaning or substance.

In reality, most of what you believe about your metabolism is a myth, such as…

Eating 6 meals per day will help stoke the metabolic fire

The theory behind this commonly used phrase is that if you eat 6 small meals per day, your metabolism will never slow down since you’re constantly supplying your “metabolic flame” with more fuel and you’ll be able to burn more fat throughout the day.

And this sounds incredibly sexy on paper, but it’s just that, a sexy sounding theory. It’s also a great marketing tool to help companies sell more food.

From a body composition standpoint, there is no difference between eating 6 smaller meals as opposed to 1-3 bigger meals.

The most important thing to do is to watch your total caloric intake for the day. There’s nothing inherently wrong with eating 6 times per day, but there are no real benefits to it either.

Find the best meal frequency for your lifestyle.

Fasting will slow your metabolism down to a crawl

Continuing from my first point, fasting will not slow down your metabolism unless you take it to the extreme and do something crazy like fast for 1 week straight.

If you skip breakfast everyday and don’t eat until 2pm, you’re going to be just fine. Calm down. You could even go up to 72 hours without food as this study states and not damage your metabolism (I don’t recommend this, I’m simply trying to make a point that fasting won’t hurt you).

For a more realistic approach, you could do a Eat Stop Eat style fast 1-2x per week (read my review here).

Your metabolism slows down as you age

Yes, your metabolism does slow down as you age, but the amount is minuscule and the only reason it does slow down is because you tend to lose a tiny bit of muscle mass as you age.

For example, a 60 year old man is never going to have as much muscle mass as a 25 year old man even if they follow the exact same workout and diet plans.

Older people also tend to carry more fat. So the best thing you can do to protect your metabolism as you age is to build a lean and muscular body and maintain it for the rest of your life.

So yes in this case, the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it” really is true.

Don’t use your age as an excuse to let yourself go. There’s no reason why you can’t be old and still look fucking incredible. As long as you continue to lift weights and eat right, your metabolism will be just fine.

Eating [insert magical food here] will boost your metabolism and burn fat

Okay people, it’s time to put on your common sense hats. If losing weight was simply a matter of eating “magical” foods like chili peppers, cinnamon, green tea, and unicorn blood then nobody would be fat.

It boggles my mind the amount of people who believe that eating specific foods is the secret behind weight loss.

Yes, there are studies showing foods like green tea and hot peppers increase your metabolic rate, but the amount is so ridiculously fucking little that eating these foods will never produce any noticeable results.

I’ve never heard of anyone who has successfully lost weight because they ate more chili peppers or drank more green tea. It’s absolute nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with eating these foods, but please don’t eat them for the sole sake of trying to lose weight.

Unicorn

The chances of losing weight by drinking green tea are as realistic as discovering a Unicorn. Oh wait!

Doing intense workouts (like intervals) boosts your metabolism and burns more calories after the workout

A lot of people these days are doing workouts that are focused around EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) or the calories burned after the workout. Some workouts claim that it’s able to significantly boost your metabolism up to the point that you’ll be burning more calories post-workout than the actual workout itself.

And while this sounds great, the calories you burn post-workout aren’t as significant as you think.

In fact, a 2006 study done on EPOC concluded that the majority of calories burned when exercising are burned during the actual exercise itself. Things like high intensity interval training can boost EPOC a tiny bit more than traditional running, but the amount is nothing significant. This is why people are able to get results with slow, steady-state cardio – because the majority of the calories are burned during exercise.

Quick note: Here is a smart cardio routine that really goes in-depth on how to use cardio to get as lean as you desire. 

Gaining muscle will shoot your metabolism though the roof

Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue but the extra calories it takes to maintain muscle mass is nothing to write home about. For whatever reason, the media loves to say that gaining one pound of muscle will boost your metabolism by an extra 10-15 calories, with some going as high as 50 calories.

So if you gained an 20 pounds of muscle, your metabolism could technically increase by up to 1000 calories, meaning you would get to eat 1000 extra calories per day just to maintain your weight. Sounds awesome right?

Well… the truth is that gaining 1 pound of muscle will only increase your metabolism by approximately 5 calories. This is why gaining muscle in hopes of increasing your metabolism and losing fat isn’t the smartest thing to do.

Gain muscle to be strong and look awesome, not to boost your metabolism and lose fat.

You can’t lose weight because you have a slow metabolism

Put bluntly, people who claim they can’t lose weight because they have a slow metabolism are simply lazy and ignorant.

These people have become so brainwashed by the media that all their failures are due having a shitty metabolism and that it’s “not their fault” that they can’t lose weight.

But in reality it is their fault.

People who blame their metabolism are people who don’t even bother with tracking their food intake.

These are people who say they got fat after college because they’re getting older and their metabolism isn’t what it used to be. Oh please! I’m sorry buddy, but you’re not fat because your metabolism slowed down, you’re fat because you eat like shit and stopped exercising. Too crude? Perhaps, but with obesity rates skyrocketing, now is not the time to kiss your ass.

Take action. Actually make an effort to track the amount of food going into your mouth. Get your ass to the gym and train with a purpose – lift weights and train with intensity. Do this for a few weeks, and I guarantee your metabolism will magically fix itself.

You can’t gain muscle because you have a fast metabolism

Yes skinny guys have problems too and one of the most common problems they have is that they can’t gain muscle because the believe that their metabolism is too fast.

And it’s true – some guys (especially younger ones) have faster metabolisms, but more often than not, the real reason skinny guys can’t gain muscle is simply because they’re not eating enough consistently.

Skinny guys who say that they eat a lot typically make one or more of the following mistakes:

  • They don’t track calories. Most skinny guys don’t have a very big appetite and stop eating the moment they feel full. If you’re trying to gain weight and you’re simply gauging the amount of food you eat by “hunger” and “how you feel” then you’re not going to make much progress. I suggest all aspiring skinny guys to track their calories. Start by adding 500 calories to your maintenance calories and scale appropriately depending on whether your gain or lose weight.
  • They eat big on occasion, meaning they’ll eat a ridiculous amount of food a couple times per week (and tell everybody they eat a ton and can’t gain weight), probably on weekends but then they’ll go right back to eating like a bird during the week. If you want to grow, you need to eat big consistently.

Some skinny guys really do have fast metabolisms, but that’s not the reason they can’t gain weight. Instead, most skinny guys lack appetite, have no idea on what it truly means to eat a lot, or don’t even make the effort track their calories.

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And if you guys could spread the word and ‘LIKE’ and share this post on Facebook, that would be awesome 🙂

Yes, I’m asking for a shameless ‘LIKE’ but it’s easy and it’ll (maybe) shut up that annoying friend you have that always complains about their metabolism.

What do you guys think? Drop a comment below with the most ridiculous metabolism myths you’ve heard.

Rich - January 13, 2017

Ha, ha, ha, so funny AND completely TRUE. Lazy and Ignorant…agree. One of the most ridiculous things I hear all the time is ” Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Most new research is revealing this to be WRONG. Makes no real difference if you eat breakfast or not. Its just preference. All comes down to calories in and out. For those doing OMAD, or some sort of Warrior Diet and eating their meal toward the end of the day/evening then eating even a small breakfast will stop the body from using any further fat storage. If people actually fact checked the things they hear from “professionals”, GNC, and well meaning doctors they will actually be surprised by the TRUTH. Thanks for this article. AWESOME.

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Pete Galantic - January 12, 2017

KEITH I like you straightforwardness and empathy I believe that you do care for your people nice to hear a genuine article on metabolism yes we are all different and unique I think we should be are own Doctors and yes eat the right foods low calories and get tothe gym and work out and be the best that you can be everything else is all b******* It comes down to you the individual person intuitive magic Keith thanks for being here I enjoyed your article and don’t worry about what other people say just be you ! you’re the man

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    Keith - January 12, 2017

    Thanks Pete, I definitely care, but simply can’t account for every single outlier where some guy “knows a guy” who has a thyroid disorder or suffers from anorexia.

    Reply
Erica - January 9, 2017

Hey Keith,

I’m sure you know this but you are objectively an asshole. Some people do have slow metabolisms. My best friend from college used to be crazy skinny, like 5’9″ size 0. I think she was anorexic bc she never came out to eat with us even tho we literally lived together. She kinda had some kind of psychotic breakdown and they put her on some antipsychotic which causes people to gain like 10 pounds a month or something and changes their metabolism for 2 years I think (Idk she gave me some article about it bc the chick was obsessed). They also kept her in the hospital and made her actually eat for once and she totally freaked out because she was gaining weight really fast. When they discharged her she was obsessed with being “too fat” and actually overdosed on her meds a couple weeks later and put herself in the ICU for a few days. Anyway long story short, after more meds and people forcing her to actually eat, she’s gained like 50 pounds? I don’t know what size she is now but she’s not really thin anymore. But it’s not her fucking fault. That’s like saying someone who’s had chemo for cancer is to blame for being bald. My friend’s taking a break from school for now but she still messages me and considering it’s half of what she talks about being “fat” really bugs her. In fact I only found this jackass article because she was super excited that she was hungry for the first time in years and thought her metabolism might be recovering and I wanted to know if that was a thing. I’m just telling you this because I gave you the benefit of the doubt and judged you to be an idiot out of ignorance. It must not have occurred to you that people with eating disorders and medication-driven metabolisms might end up here (although you might have gotten a clue with the previous comments)

Anyway that was much longer than expected. But shittalking people who feel like shit from a position of presumed authority is just pathetic.

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    Keith - January 9, 2017

    Dude, this doesn’t apply to you if you have extreme eating disorders.

    This is for the people who are lazy as shit, eat 4000 calories per day and then blame their metabolism for their shortcomings.

    Reply
Dana - January 7, 2017

Hi Keith,

I think its quite appalling for you to label those who are unable to lose weight as “lazy and ignorant”. This statement only highlights your true ignorance to the subject of metabolism. There have been multiple studies over decades that have shown that it is nearly impossible to sustain weightloss once the person attempting this weight loss has been overweight/obese for an extended period of time. At this point, their metabolism slows down to the extent at which it cannot recover. Although researchers are still lacking insight as to why or how this occurs, the incapacity of the metabolism to recover is a fact. In all weight loss studies, those who have lost an extreme amount of weight have regained this weight, and MORE, due to a slower metabolism that, so far, seems nearly impossible to recover from.

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    Keith - January 7, 2017

    Ok Dana, I’ll bite.

    Explain to me how the average person loses weight then if it’s not by reducing calories.

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    Rich - January 13, 2017

    Everything you just said about metabolism is total b.s. Do some more research from more than just one source.

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S - December 16, 2016

Hi!
You write that metabolism doesnt slow unless you fast for a week. Would the same be true for a doing a VLCD(in my case 600 kcal/day) for one week?

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    Keith - December 16, 2016

    No i wouldn’t do that. You will lose muscle mass, plus it’s just incredibly unrealistic to maintain.

    Reply
Brittany - December 10, 2016

Question regarding metabolism righting itself.

I have been eating very low calorie. I don’t even need to write it down… a bowl of soup a day. Ha. About a gallon of water. My first eight days I was down 15 pounds. Day 11 through day 13(today) I’m at 17 which is obviously a slower loss than what I had initially.

I’m on day 4 of two-a-day HIIT workouts, which I know can take your body a while to get adjusted to. However, all of my fitness friends blame my sudden lack of drastic weight loss on my lack of calories and screwing my metabolism. I came across your article looking for other answers. Any insight ?

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    Keith - December 11, 2016

    to be blunt, what you’re doing is a horrible idea. Please do something more realistic and sustainable.

    Reply

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