Metabolic health is a topic that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years as we’ve become more aware of its importance to our overall health. However, amidst this growing interest, misconceptions about metabolic health have emerged. In this article, we’ll clear up a few of the most common metabolic health myths.
Myth: When you eat doesn’t matter
You may have heard that it’s bad to eat before bed, but do you know why? For starters, food metabolizes differently throughout the day. In the mornings, the body’s insulin sensitivity is higher, meaning it can process carbs more efficiently. This sensitivity is lower at night, which means you’ll have less stable blood sugar levels overnight, especially if you’re a late-night snacker.
This is one reason it’s best to eat our heaviest meals earlier in the day and save the lighter fare for the evening. A heavy evening meal or late-night snack can disrupt the body’s natural digestive process and make it harder to get the restful sleep you need.
Myth: All calories are created equal
When it comes to calories, it’s quality, not quantity, that matters most. All calories carry the same amount of energy, but the body’s metabolic process varies depending on what kind of food you’re eating.
For example, a 12 oz. can of regular soda contains about 150 calories, whereas an apple has about 95. The calorie difference isn’t large, but the effect those calories have on your body is. The calories from the soda will be quickly absorbed by the body, but a whole food like an apple takes longer to digest, meaning the apple’s calories will make the full journey through your digestive tract.
Furthermore, different foods will have varying effects on hunger, metabolism, hormones, and overall health. Unsurprisingly, healthy foods support us better in all of these areas. At the end of the day, it’s not the calorie count that matters; it’s the calorie source.
Myth: Being thin means you’re metabolically healthy
A slender physique or a BMI in the normal range won’t tell you the whole story about your health. In fact, most U.S. adults aren’t considered metabolically healthy, because even if you’re at more or less a healthy weight, you can still have high blood pressure, high blood glucose, or high cholesterol levels.
So while excess weight is a risk factor for many metabolic disorders, being thin doesn’t automatically rule out metabolic health issues, either.
Myth: Eating fat makes you gain weight
Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet. We need fat for energy, for warmth, and to support our overall health. Despite fat’s “scary” name, it’s the excess calories—especially those from carb-heavy and highly processed foods—that contribute to weight gain, not healthy fats.
The type of fat does matter, though. Healthy fats—aka, unsaturated fats—found in avocados, fish, and olive oil support weight-management efforts. On the other hand, unhealthy fats—aka, saturated and trans fats—found in highly processed foods can throw a wrench in your weight-management goals.
Still, if weight loss is your goal, don’t veer away from fat completely. Just make sure you’re eating the healthy kind.
Myth: Metabolic health is solely determined by genetics
If you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or other metabolic disorders, you might feel like you’re doomed to inherit certain health issues no matter what you do.
However, while genetics do play a role in your metabolic health, lifestyle can make an even bigger difference. A healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management can all significantly improve metabolic health, no matter your background.
So yes, you have more control over your metabolic health than you might think. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle is choosing to support your metabolic health!