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Myth: You’re overweight because you have a slow metabolism

The more weight on your body, the more energy you'll need to support it.

TRUTH:  This myth’s metabolism doesn’t hold its weight. And neither does yours.  Though some people do actually have a slower metabolic rate, it’s unlikely that excess weight can be attributed to it.  First, what is metabolism?  It’s the rate at which your cells convert nutrients into energy.  Everything we do requires energy, including breathing, sitting and sleeping.

Studies show that overweight and obese people burn more calories than an average weight person because their bodies do more work (for which they need energy).  But when you recalculate and control for weight, it turns out that many overweight people have the same metabolic rate than those of a normal weight.

Your metabolism is determined by your age, sex, and fitness level.  It’s true that if you exercise, you can boost your metabolism.  Note though, that the metabolism boost won’t be what leads to weight loss, the exercise will!

But what about a weight loss plateau?  Anyone who has tried to diet has experienced it – here’s why:  Let’s say you’re a 30 year old female, eating 2500 calories per day and you want to lose a few pounds.  In order to do that, you restrict your calories to 2300.  As you lose weight, you metabolism decreases because it has less body mass to support.  There will become a point where your metabolism reaches equilibrium with the calories you’re taking in.  In other words, if your weight plateaus, you’ve reached a point where you need to eat 2300 calories per day to maintain that weight.  If you then restrict your calories to 2100 per day, you’ll lose a few more pounds.

BOTTOM LINE:  You can optimize your metabolism by getting exercise, staying hydrated, eating small and frequent meals, and having coffee or tea.  However, you can drink all the green tea you can find, but you won’t lose weight unless you burn more calories than you consume.


  1. Mayo Clinic
  2. BBC Health


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