Hy-Vee at Midday: Metabolism Myths & Facts

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- We often hear the word “metabolism,” but do we actually know what it means and how to take care of our own? Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat into the energy we need to survive and function throughout the day.

A “fast” metabolism burns through fuel (calories) quickly, while a “slow” metabolism uses less fuel to keep the body running. Today we will separate the myths from the facts about how to support your metabolism and keep it running in tip-top shape.

Myth or Fact?: Your metabolic rate can’t change

Genes play a part in determining metabolic rate, but you can improve your metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories per hour than fat even when you are resting, so exercise can improve your metabolism by maintaining the muscle you have and building even more. As we age, we naturally lose muscle, so an exercise routine that includes strength training becomes even more important the older you get to keep your metabolism working efficiently.
Once you have the exercise habit down, it is important to fuel and repair the muscles you are building by supplying your body with adequate protein. The best sources of protein come from meat and fish, dairy, nuts and seeds and beans. If you have trouble getting protein from food, try your Hy-Vee dietitian Pick of the Month, Performance Inspired Whey Protein powder, which contains 25 grams per scoop.

Myth or Fact?: Skipping meals or eating very few calories will jumpstart weight loss

Your metabolism needs to have fuel (calories) throughout the day to keep it running. If you are not giving your body enough calories, your body will adapt to the restricted caloric intake and use fewer calories to perform the same tasks. That will make it more of a challenge to lose weight. Your local Hy-Vee dietitian is your perfect resource to find this balance of how many calories you may need. Try keeping these “Fit-For-You Bars” on hand as an emergency snack in the event that you’re not able to take a break for a meal.

Myth or Fact?: Eating late at night slows metabolism

Regardless of when we eat, the cause of weight gain or loss is still the overall balance of how many calories we are taking in and burning throughout the day. There is little evidence that eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain. However, eating smaller portions approximately every 3-4 hours throughout the day can help your metabolism run its best and help you avoid late night overeating. Perfect snack ideas consist of a source of protein and fiber and have 200 or fewer calories.

Myth or Fact?: Eating chili peppers and drinking green tea will fire up your metabolism

If a weight-loss promise sounds too good to be true, it is! There is not a magic food that will increase or decrease your metabolism. Though studies suggest these foods can give your metabolism a slight boost, this is temporary and not enough to offset eating too much of the wrong foods. For a better metabolism, make sure you are getting a balanced diet from a variety of foods as well as giving your body the fuel (calories) it deserves!
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Fit-For-You Bars
Source: Hy-Vee Seasons | Serves 16-24

All you need:
2 c grains (old fashioned oats, quick oats, crisp brown rice cereal, granola)
½ c liquid sweetener (honey, agave, brown rice syrup, pure maple syrup)
1¼ c nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower nut butter)
1 c seeds or wheat product (sesame seeds, wheat bran, wheat germ, pepitas, ground flax, chia [¼ c only])
1 c powdered protein (whey protein powder, nonfat dry milk, powdered peanut butter)
1 c nuts or chips (chopped walnuts, almonds, cashews, coconut, dark chocolate chips, carob chips)
1 c dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, chopped apricots, dates, prunes, or figs)

All you do:
1. Choose an ingredient option from each category. Measure and mix all ingredients together using an electric mixer or food processor.
2. Press firmly into an even layer in an 8- or 9-inch pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Refrigerate to firm bars.
3. Cut into bars of desired size and wrap individually for a quick on-the-go snack.
Nutrition facts vary based on ingredients selected and size of bars.

Molly Webb represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community. Molly is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.