Metabolism Truths & Myths

The lowdown on changing your metabolism.
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Can you change your metabolism? Yes! Can you believe everything you read about changing it? Absolutely not! Here's what's fact and fiction (and what's still a maybe):

Lifting weights will increase your resting metabolic rate.

FACT: The more muscle you have, the more energy you need to fuel it, which means you burn more calories all the time. "A woman who strength-trains two to three times a week for 16 weeks will burn about 100 more calories a day," says Gary Hunter, PhD, director of exercise physiology at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Eating several mini-meals a day keeps your metabolism in high gear.

MAYBE: The amount of energy you expend digesting food equals about 10 percent of the total calories you consume, says Deborah Ezell, clinical exercise physiologist at Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, in Baltimore. Also, digesting proteins may boost metabolism. And grazing keeps insulin levels consistent, which may cause your body to utilize, rather than store, more energy from food.

Your metabolism slows down as you get older.

FICTION: The decline in metabolic rate that occurs over the years isn't necessarily associated with aging; it has more to do with decreased activity, and the loss of muscle tone that goes along with it. "Kids are always moving," says Andrew Greenberg, M.D., director of the Program in Obesity and Metabolism at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. "Adults work at their desks. You don't use your muscles, so you lose them."


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