When it comes to metabolism, there's no shortage of information. From studies that suggest you can "reset" your body's natural clock to experts who claim you can "hack" your way to a faster metabolism by eating the right foods, it can be tough to know what's science-backed and which claims are too good to be true.
It turns out that there are a ton of metabolism myths on the web and clinical nutritionist Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, wants to set the record straight. "Our metabolism is the process of the body turning calories we consume into usable energy," he explains. "Calories are a measure of energy, and our body depends on getting enough of them to keep us functioning in all aspects of life."
So if you have a fast metabolism in your 20s, will you maintain the same rate for life? And can drinking gin speed it up? Ahead Axe debunks leading metabolism myths to separate fact from fiction. Here's what you need to know.
If you have a fast metabolism in your 20s, you'll have a fast metabolism for your whole life
False. "Your metabolism naturally slows after age 40, even if you had a fast metabolism in your younger years. This steady slowing with age means that you'll have to proactively incorporate natural metabolism boosters into your daily routine—like getting enough sleep, eating nutrient-dense, high-protein foods, and exercising regularly," Axe says. "Your metabolism can also be slowed by certain lifestyle factors (poor diet, little or no exercise, chronic stress, etc.) well before your 40s."
You Can Reset Your Metabolism in 24 Hours
False. "It's true that you can temporarily speed up your metabolism, especially via certain pills and supplements (you may notice an increase in body temperature, heart rate, stamina, etc.), but it is unlikely to be sustained in as little as 24 hours," Axe says. "As with losing weight or making any other significant health changes, slow and steady wins the race. So if you want to boost your for the long-term, it will take a bit longer. Making diet and lifestyle changes for a solid month can make a major, noticeable difference."
You can "hack" your way to a faster metabolism by eating more healthy fats
True. "It's true that eating healthy fats—like avocados, grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, and omega-3 foods—can help to boost your metabolism," Axe says. "Your body needs the energy and nutrients from these foods to keep your metabolism humming. Plus, diets high in healthy fats tend to be filling and satisfying, so this can help you avoid overeating or turning to empty calories that will slow down weight loss and slow your metabolism."
Certain vitamins can boost your metabolism
True. "B vitamins, magnesium, iron, vitamin D, and antioxidants can all help to boost your metabolism. And many people are deficient in these nutrients, so having your levels checked and working to correct any deficiencies can be extremely helpful for improving your metabolism, kick-starting weight loss, and addressing other health issues," Axe says. "Certain foods like green tea, garlic, cayenne pepper, and apple cider vinegar are also natural metabolism boosters because they supply antioxidants, boost your energy levels, and promote fat loss."
Eating at night can slow your metabolism
False. "Eating at night alone isn't going to have a huge impact on your metabolism. What is going to make a difference are the foods you choose to eat," Axe says. "If you're sitting on the couch at 10 p.m., eating ice cream or chips, then yes, this can have a serious impact on your metabolism. But if you are eating a healthy, high-protein snack because you are feeling physical signs of hunger in the evening, then you're doing well by listening to your body. And protein benefits your metabolism. So it's not necessarily the time of day that you eat that makes a difference—it's what you are consuming during that time."
Certain foods, like white flour, farmed beef, and butter, slow down your metabolism.
True. "Certain foods, that I refer to as metabolism death foods, can slow your metabolism and lead to weight gain, hormone imbalances, increased appetite, and blood sugar fluctuations," Axe says. "Sweetened and processed foods and beverages, like juice, baked goods, and soda, can also destroy your body. Other problematic foods are refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, and snack foods that contain empty starches and carbohydrates. To speed up your metabolism, stick to whole, fresh, and organic foods that aren't made with genetically modified or artificial ingredients."
Drinking gin can speed up your metabolism
False. "If you're trying to speed up your metabolism naturally, I wouldn't count on gin as your effective remedy," Axe says. "Gin does contain antioxidants—which is why some reports claim that gin helps to boost your metabolism—but drinking alcohol excessively, particularly hard liquor, will slow down your metabolism rate, so sticking to beneficial antioxidant foods, like blueberries, cilantro, kidney beans, and pecans, is the smarter and more effective route. That said, the occasional glass of red wine can be healthy."
For more deep dives into trending health topics, head to our wellness vertical, THE/THIRTY.