Ask Food: How metabolism affects weight

Food Network Kitchens - Q: How does metabolism affect my weight?

A: Lifestyle and its impact on metabolism is always a hot topic. Find out what really affects how your body runs.

Myth: Eating at night causes weight gain.

There's no magical evening hour where foods just turn to fat. Once your calorie intake exceeds expenditure, you can put on the pounds no matter what time of day. On the other hand, if you need more calories after dinner, have a light and sensible snack.

Myth: Eat spicy foods to burn calories.

There's an element of some spicy foods (like chile peppers) that may help suppress appetite and create a short-lived increase in body heat. But don't rely on these tactics to shed pounds. They could do more harm than good, especially if you're prone to heartburn.

Fact: Eating throughout the day fuels metabolism.

Eating sensibly throughout the day keeps energy and blood-sugar levels more stable. This can also help prevent overeating later in the day.

Myth: Green tea revs up metabolism.

With plenty of antioxidants to offer, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a daily dose of green tea. While rumors swirl about the weight-loss benefits, numerous studies have failed to find solid evidence. The caffeine found in green tea might give you a quick boost, but it's no magic bullet.

Fact: Exercise boosts metabolism.

It's fairly simple: Exercise raises heart rate and a higher heart rate means more calories burned. Folks who exercise at high intensity can reap the benefits after exercise has ended, according to a 2011 study. Need more incentive to get moving? Another study found that women who don't get enough exercise are at greater risk for metabolic syndrome, a combination of several risk factors for chronic disease such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

Myth: Skinny people have a faster metabolism.

Skinny doesn't always mean faster (metabolically speaking) or healthier. Thin folks are at risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes as well.

Courtesy Dana Angelo White on foodnetwork.com

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