7 metabolism myths you need to stop believing

Women’s health expert and naturopath Lara Briden busts some of the biggest metabolism myths.  

From the idea that you can simply “speed up” your metabolism by eating certain foods to the belief that late-night eating won’t affect your weight, when it comes to metabolism, myths and misconceptions abound.

Women’s health expert and naturopath Lara Briden says these myths can hinder your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Here’s her guide to seven metabolism myths you need to stop believing.

Some people have a ‘fast’ metabolism, and others a ‘slow’ metabolism

While true, the best way to think about metabolism isn’t in terms of fast or slow, but rather in terms of flexible and non-flexible.

A flexible metabolism burns fat for energy and ongoing satiety.

An inflexible metabolism is one that cannot effectively burn fat for energy or achieve satiety.

It is stuck in constant hunger mode, with a strong desire to snack between meals.

The most common causes of ‘metabolic inflexibility’ are insulin resistance and prediabetes — conditions associated with chronically elevated insulin, which affect up to one in two adults.”

It’s my fault I’m gaining weight

Insulin resistance and metabolic inflexibility can cause abnormally high hunger and reduced energy expenditure, which can lead to significant weight gain.

The underlying issues of insulin resistance and metabolic inflexibility are not your fault.

They are the result of exposure to the ‘modern food environment’, or ultra-processed food.

Those negative metabolic effects appear to be passed on to future generations.

Your current metabolic problems and weight gain are likely to have started when you were a child or even before you were born.

Insulin resistance doesn’t cause weight gain

Insulin resistance is likely to be the hidden driver of your weight gain, yet you may not even know you have it.

Insulin resistance cannot be diagnosed or ruled out by a blood test for glucose or sugar.

Instead, it must be assessed by symptoms such as weight gain around your middle, high triglycerides (found through blood tests), fatty liver, skin tags, increased hunger and a tendency to ‘reactive hypoglycemia’, or crashes in blood sugar.

In some cases, insulin resistance can be assessed by a blood test for the hormone insulin.

Step one is to identify insulin resistance.

Step two is to reverse it — not by calorie counting, but by addressing ‘metabolic obstacles’ such as digestive problems, medication, perimenopause and exposure to ultra-processed food.

Eating late at night doesn’t affect my metabolism

Eating late at night is bad for metabolism, as it increases the risk of insulin resistance, weight gain and long-term problems like type 2 diabetes.

The parts of a healthy metabolism, including brain, hormones, liver and the gut microbiome, have a natural circadian rhythm and are calibrated to manage food only during the day.

Eating certain foods won’t ‘speed up’ your metabolism

It is possible to promote a more flexible and healthier metabolism by eating wholefoods, especially those high in fibre, nutrients and protein.

These help you to achieve satiety, plus better able to access fat stores for energy — that is, better able to burn fat.

 Eating small, regular snacks ‘boosts’ metabolism

Grazing or eating all the time doesn’t boost metabolism.

It keeps insulin high (promoting insulin resistance), so never allows the body to dip into fat-burning.

Instead, find a pattern of meal spacing that works with your level of activity, nervous system and circadian rhythm.”

 I can’t control my metabolism

Metabolism is not under our conscious control; the regulatory mechanism in the brain that controls everything works unconsciously.

But that doesn’t mean we are powerless!

We can send ‘signals of safety and satiety’  to the brain and other parts of our metabolism, by connecting with others, moving the body, supporting a healthy circadian rhythm, getting enough sleep, addressing any gut or hormonal problems and eating mostly wholefoods.

All the hormonal signals to the brain respond positively to wholefoods but not processed foods.

More metabolism myths, busted:

As told to Charmaine Yabsley.