When I think of fast metabolism I automatically think of those people out there that are able to eat almost anything without gaining a single pound. How lucky they are, I used to think. I can’t complain about having a slow metabolism myself, but I certainly cannot eat anything and remain slim! For years I used to think that my average speed metabolism had me at a disadvantage when compared to those lucky few out there who operate at the speed of light. Recently, however, as my understanding of the functioning of the body and metabolism has grown I’ve come to new conclusions. Positive ones, I must say!
This post will, hopefully, bring a huge breath of relief for those with slowish/average metabolisms.
So, let’s begin at the very beginning.
What is metabolism?
The metabolism is essentially the rate at which all chemical processes occur in the body. Usually however, when we talk about metabolism in this context we are referring to resting metabolic rate. This is the number of calories that our bodies burn just to keep us alive.
The faster the metabolism the better?
Most people believe that it is desirable to have a very fast metabolism. We see it everywhere, new posts come up almost every day with the heading:
- 5 foods to speed up your metabolism
- Eat 8 meals a day to have a fast metabolism
- Eat 30g of protein upon waking to rev up your metabolism
I don’t think I’d be lying if I said I’ve heard it all! Now I’m not at all trying to say that these methods do not work. They probably work too well! But, apart from burning more calories at rest, is there any other benefit of having a fast metabolism? Absolutely not! Nothing! How surprising, right!
In fact, there are actually disadvantages of a fast metabolism. Research suggests that the faster your metabolism, the shorter your lifespan. This isn’t even new research or new theory! Max Rubner came up with the rate of living theory in 1908! Buuuuut, sadly there is no money in slow metabolisms. Nothing to sell. Haha, so before we get carried away with conspiracy conversations, let’s leave this topic right where it is!
Slower metabolism, longer life?
So why is it that a slower metabolism is associated with longer life and faster metabolism with a shorter one, I hear you asking. Well, cellular energy production results in the creation of byproducts, some of which are toxic. This basically means that every time you eat and your body turns that food into energy there are some toxic byproducts that are produced. Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants to help combat those reactive oxygen species however, when everything is happening too fast, our bodies may not be able to produce enough antioxidants to keep up with the demand. That’s when oxidative damage occurs. Our DNA, our proteins and lipids get damaged. And we know one thing for sure. Oxidative damage accelerates ageing! So you can see how the story goes from here on. The faster your body ages, the shorter your life.
On the plus side, the opposite is also true. When you have a slower metabolism and enough supply of antioxidants it is expected that your lifespan will be longer.
Now before you start thinking that I am trying to basically tell you to crash your metabolism and become fat so that you live longer, let me clarify.
Eating less may be the way forward
I know! This sounds so counter-everything you’ve probably read or heard, but hear me out. In order to be slim and lean AND have a slow metabolism (you can most definitely have both!) you need to consume less food than “normal”. Because, if you have a slow metabolism and eat what you usually eat you will gain weight. So the key here is to eat less and burn less. And anyway, in modern days we are eating way too much! Think sustainability. If you slow down your metabolism slightly, your body wouldn’t need so much food. You’ll be helping the environment and you’ll also be saving money.
What about exercise? Exercise is fantastic obviously and it is probably the safest way to increase your metabolism. Now before you get totally confused, what I mean by safest way, is that exercise will not give you those toxic byproducts of cellular energy production and thus no oxidative damage. So exercise is good, don’t stop exercising. But, I think we can agree that most of us are consuming more food than our bodies require. What’s more is that usually that food isn’t overly healthy either!
The whole point behind this post is to provide an alternative view of things or a little food for thought if you like. Forget the fitness industry or the whatever industry, I’m not in the business of anything. I am solely interested in my own health and the health of others. With that in mind, here’s are a few suggestions derived from this topic:
- Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.
- Consume less calories. You will notice that once you quit the junk/processed food, cutting calories will occur naturally because natural food isn’t usually calorically dense.
- Use exercise to maintain healthy weight.
Give it a thought and do your own research.
Personally, the more I research the topic the more I see how much sense this makes. This is what those 120 year old yogis do! They live SLOWLY! They breathe slowly and deeply, they eat slowly, they move their bodies slowly and gently (yoga) and in this way they preserve themselves for longer.
There’s a saying that goes, “live fast, die young” and I think I kind of agree. Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear what you guys think on the topic!