8 Ridiculous Myths Everyone Believes About Their Metabolism

August 5, 2018 | 338 Comments

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.

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.

Try not losing weight on 1000 calories per day.

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.


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.

338 Comments - Leave Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. You mean Turbo Booster Shakes won’t “rev your metabolism?” Why would those nice people on TV lie, especially Dr. Oz! Thanks for keeping it real, Keith.

  2. Hi! Loved your article! I eat about 800 calories a day and lose one pound every three days. Isn’t it a metabolism myth that one’s metabolism drops too low to lose on 800 calories a day? I think so. Otherwise, people in concentration camps would not have starved to death. Thanks for your response.

    1. This is a myth as well. There is at least anecdotal evidence where individuals fast for weeks (even months) at a time or do minimal calories for months at a time and lose weight consistently. It is generally assumed that it is better to gradually increase those calories back after a period of significant calorie restriction. But, again, no real proof or evidence that is needed as that idea is based on the notion that the metabolism slows down. I work in endocrinology and we have morbidly obese patients that lose weight with severe calorie restriction without rebound as long as they are consistent. Additionally, some of our patients go for bariatric surgery and will be on less than 1000 calories daily due to inadequate appetite and continue losing weight long after surgery (months to years).

  3. Seriously. Where have you been all of my life. Ha ha! Finally someone with some common sense and someone who is confirming my own personal findings. I am tired of people constantly trying to set up some sort of eating disorder intervention because I work out hard, cut calories or refuse to eat what they eat. I know my body and I enjoy treating it like a science experiment….the only way to see what works, in my opinion. Read all you want but personal experience is the only way to go. Have patience and keep focused people!

    If I could hug and kiss you…..I would!

  4. Hi Keith.

    I’m currently eating one big meal per day (around 600 calories) before eating again after 24 hours. I burn around 300-500 calories throughout the day from cardio or HITT. I plan on doing this for 16 days, will this slow my metabolism?

    1. 600 calories is not “big” if it’s all you eat. If you’re only eating 600 cals per day while doing a ton of cardio, I don’t recommend that.

  5. Hello,

    I am a 24 year old female weight 115 pounds, I know it doesn’t sound like much but I have fat everywhere in my body, I used to be very toned and skinny, now I’m very chubby. how much calorie do you recommend per day and how much should I cut on to loose weight effectively in the short as well as the long run (if they’re different).

    1. How tall are you? If you are not lifting weights, I recommend doing that first before drastically cutting calories.

      Building some muscle does wonders.

  6. Interesting article. Is eating around 700-800 calories a day fine enough if you don’t do that much intense training but just occasionally cycle, walk and similar less intense form for movement each day?

    1. My guy… I lost over 100 lbs not going below 2300 calories a day. 700-800 calories a day is like skin and bone model levels of daily calorie intake. Calculate your daily calorie needs using a TDEE calculator and reduce no more than 500 calories if you’re trying to lose weight in a healthy way.

  7. Dear John, what you say is very general. I am 5’0 and fot me 1300 calories it is what I need to maintain my weight training medium 3 days a week. Not everybody have the same needs but for me going on 800 calories a day it is not a model starving mode. I am very small and that is very acceptable too! of course I try to keep it on 1000 and push myself more at the gym but if I want to lose weight it is ridiculously hard without not going on 800 calories a day. Try to understand not everybody is the same. I had a trainer that asked me to eat so much and in one month I could not even wear my jeans! because I was earing TOO much! now that I have more information I understand and listen to my body. Ans btw I love this honest article.

    1. Hi. just wanted to say a little something 🙂 no judgment whatsoever.
      Basically if you are 5’0 and 1300 calories is the amount you need to maintain your weight when training 3 days a week, that means that your basal metabolism is even lower, meaning that your BMR would be about 800 to 900 calories per day and this amount of calories for a basal metabolism would match someone who weights 66 pounds and is 5 feet tall. I’d have to either assume that your daily calories needs are a lot higher than 1300 calories given your amount of exercice, or that you are 60 years of age, or that you don’t have muscles at all. (I don’t know your age or body composition so I’m only assuming based on the given info).
      My concern would be why would you want to lose weight ? It doesn’t even make sense given your height. If you ate less, you would lose weight, but you’d lose all of your muscles,and look atrophied since muscle are a lot more dense than fat.
      There are many reasons why you ate and took on weight. You either ate too much fats combined with carbohydrates (maybe about 1500 calories overfeeding) and did not train your muscles enough, therefore they don’t get stronger, and do not store as much glycogen as it can.
      But anyway, your best bet would be to actually have stronger muscles. I think that would be a lot more beneficial to you given your size.

  8. One caveat I would add is for some people with over-active thyroid and difficulties gaining muscle (or any weight at all). I had this (caused by Graves disease) and I could eat 5000 calories a day and not gain a gram of weight, my bmi was about 18 (basically I was super skinny). I also worked out 3 times a week and barely gained at all, even over a whole year. In the end I had a permanent treatment for it and now take thyroid hormones (as I am now under active), and gaining weight is too bloody easy, lol. Everything else, yeah, for sure, my experience exactly.

  9. Fine reading, but one thing is not true in my experience= Long term experience= Twice after gaining weight twice and loosing weight twice.

    Running or lifting heavy weights DO set the metabolic rate up, and it stays up for a long time – at least the rest af the day (maybe longer, I think?)

    Tryed to walk 1 hour (5 km), when I could not run so much because of too much weight, and

    …later when I could run (after weight loss after walking a lot like this over many months) I could ran the same (5 km) in half the time and I lost more the time after (over months) – even I got closer and closer to the right weight and therefore perhaps harder to loose weight, but my weight loss went UP and continued faster when I was able to run the half time instead of walking the dobble time – the same happened, but not so much as running – after lifting heavier and heavier weight.

    Sorry for the English – foreign.

  10. I like how this article breaks down the metabolism myths, and quickly frames the issues/excuses people use in support of holding onto the myth. But of course, a lot of this info already supports how I view things, so there is an extreme confirmation bias. I’m interested in how you feel about calorie counting, and the “calories in-out” theory. IMO, Proponents of this theory fail to consider level of activity, type of food eaten, and frequency. I’m definitely no expert though, so interested in your take.

  11. I don't understand why building muscle wouldn't increase the BMR.

    Don't fitness gurus eat a lot of food and stay lean?
    If I ate what they ate I would be obese.

    I'm just trying to understand how it works.

    1. it does, just not to the crazy extent most ppl think. No most people don’t eat a ton to stay lean unless they are super active.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}