Group of Friends Running Outdoors in Cold Weather

September 20, 2022 — 9:31 AM

Thanks to size zero models gracing the covers of magazines, billboard ads, commercials, and more, comparing our own bodies to society’s “ideal” one was commonplace in the ’90s and early 2000s. 

As a result, popular books and magazines were filled with unhealthy diet tips that oversimplified the inner workings of metabolism, encouraged extreme calorie counting, and demonized entire food groups. 

Today, leading wellness experts understand that maintaining a healthy weight and body composition is so much more complex than just “calories in, calories out.”

“Many of us were negatively impacted by the false promises of diet products of the ’90s and early 2000s, grew up on the idea of calorie counting, and might even believe that all fats should be avoided,” says functional medicine nutritionist Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS

In reality, body composition is multifaceted—genes, life stage, sex, hormones, physical activity, gut health, stressors, health care access (or lack thereof), and food security all play a part in your overall weight management. 

And while maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of supporting your metabolic health, extreme diets and workout plans aren’t a healthy, productive, or sustainable way to promote your physical health.

Unlearning myths about weight.

Let’s begin by reviewing some unhealthy diet culture beliefs that you may have consciously (or unconsciously) accepted as truth over the past few decades, as told by nutritionists:

Myth No. 1: We need to eat less and exercise more in order to lose weight.

“If you have ever gone on a diet, then you may know that this is not true for the majority of people in the long term. Everyone’s body is different and will respond differently to diet and exercise,” says dietitian nutritionist Courtney Vickery, M.S., R.D., L.D. 

Myth No. 2: We should avoid certain foods or food groups in order to be healthy.

Many modern diets cut out entire food groups. For example, vegans don’t eat meat or animal products, and the paleo diet doesn’t allow legumes, grains, or dairy. But just because your neighbor swears by a certain nutritional lifestyle, it doesn’t mean the same eating pattern would be healthy for you.

“The truth is that there’s not one perfect diet for everyone. The key is to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you,” Vickery explains. What’s more, demonizing foods and/or entire food groups simply encourages shame, guilt, and deprivation. 

Myth No. 3: Counting calories is an accurate way to measure a balanced diet.

“It’s more important to focus on eating nutrient-rich foods than worrying about the number of calories you’re consuming,” says Vickery. 

Scheller agrees, noting that the number of calories doesn’t always equate to nutritional value. “For example, 500 calories of a brownie does not metabolize in the body the same as 500 calories of broccoli. These same 500 calories would affect the body very differently,” she explains.

Myth No. 4: Thinness equals health.

Wellness is so much more complex than the number on a scale or fitting into a certain jean size. Body composition, physical fitness, diet, sleep habits, stress levels, and many other factors affect your overall well-being. 

“The key is to focus on what behaviors you can participate in that will benefit your health, regardless of your size,” says Vickery. 

The difference between weight and body composition.

While weight certainly contributes to an individual’s overall health, the number on your scale isn’t the only measurement that matters when it comes to metabolic health—and what’s more, it can be misleading. 

You see, muscle weighs more than fat. This means that someone gaining muscle mass could experience the same weight gain as someone who’s increasing their fat percentage. Likewise, weight loss could be a positive thing (if you’re making healthy, intentional lifestyle choices to lose fat) or a negative thing (if you’re unintentionally losing muscle, due to inactivity, specific health issues, etc.). 

Vickery recommends her clients avoid the scale altogether as a measure of success. “Weight can fluctuate for many reasons, such as hormones, water retention, and muscular growth,” she explains. 

Other measurements—like body mass index (BMI), which calculates an individual’s weight and height to estimate if they’re in a generally healthy weight category—are extremely helpful for care practitioners on the grand scale (i.e., for population studies, public health purposes, etc.), but they don’t consider the highly unique and multifactorial nature of an individual’s weight. 

At mbg, we consider body composition (i.e., the percentages of fat, bone, and muscle that make up a human body) to be a more nuanced and useful metric when evaluating an individual’s metabolism and metabolic health. 

How metabolism affects healthy body composition.

If you’ve ever thought about your weight in relation to your overall health (who hasn’t?), you’ve likely wondered how metabolism plays a part in the equation—or what metabolism even is. 

Metabolism is the complex biochemical process that makes energy your cells need to function and keep your body healthy. “Metabolism isn’t just about weight. It actually has more to do with how our body uses the food we eat and converts it to fuel for energy,” shares Scheller. 

In medical terminology, metabolism is measured as basal metabolic rate (BMR). Essentially, your BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to carry out essential functions (e.g., breathing, blood circulation, hormone regulation) even when it’s resting. In other words, the higher your BMR, the faster your metabolism.

The aspect that influences BMR the most is your lean body mass (aka lean muscle mass), which is the weight of everything except body fat (i.e., muscle, body water, organs, skin, bones). The higher your lean body mass, the more energy your body requires at rest (and the higher your BMR). 

Because fat is not as metabolically active as lean muscle mass, the alternative is also true—if a body composition has a higher fat percentage, it requires less energy. As a result, individuals with a lower lean muscle mass have a lower BMR and a slower metabolism. 

As you can see, improving your metabolic rate and increasing your metabolism is the key to losing fat and gaining muscle (and it’s definitely not as simple as “calories in, calories out”).

7 ways to promote a healthy, active metabolism.

Thankfully, there are quite a few things we can do to help support an active metabolism. Try incorporating some (or all) of the following tips to improve your basal metabolic rate and promote a healthy body composition:

1. Take a metabolism-supporting supplement.

For an easy and effective way to increase metabolic speed and efficiency, consider a premium plant-based supplement like mbg’s metabolism+.*



Multi-pronged approach to promote healthy weight & body composition*


Veld grape extract, grains of paradise, and cayenne pepper help promote a healthy body composition, while EGCG and caffeine derived from green tea leaves support healthy weight management and increase resting energy expenditure.* 

“These plants are firmly rooted in clinical research evidence demonstrating their multidimensional abilities to support metabolism physiology,”* shares mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN. “In addition to its energizing effects, metabolism+ helps enhance and optimize metabolic rate, thermogenic calorie burn, satiety, energy balance, cardiometabolic health biomarkers, and body composition.”*

Not too shabby for just two capsules a day!

2. Eat a nutrient-dense, balanced diet.

What we eat throughout the day has an impact on our metabolism and energy expenditure. 

“When we eat foods that support the body’s normal processes, our body runs efficiently in creating fuel. However, when we consume a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods, the excess sugar and carbs can convert to fat tissue and be stored in the body,” Scheller explains. “Alternatively, when we eat a diet that is rich in lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, the body can more easily tap into that stored fat to be used as fuel for the body.” 

Scheduling meals throughout the day is also important for promoting a healthy metabolism and blood glucose regulation. “It’s important to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable and provides your body with the energy it needs to function properly,” says Vickery.

Speaking of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, a 2018 scientific review from Nutrients found that drinking adequate water has a direct impact on glucose regulation and overall metabolic health. 

“Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps to keep your body properly fueled and can even help to boost your metabolism,” says Vickery. 

(Excuse me while I fill up my Hydro Flask.)

In a 2022 JAMA Internal Medicine randomized clinical trial, researchers found that consistently extending sleep to recommended hours (i.e., approximately eight hours each night) helped adults with overweight lose weight in just two weeks! 

So yes, boosting your metabolism can be as easy as a good night’s rest. 

That said, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always so easy. Check out our guide to improving sleep quality for tips on getting better shut-eye.

With more of us sitting at desks all day, this is arguably one of the most challenging (and important) tips on this list.

Sedentary activities (such as sitting, lying down, etc.) require very little energy. Maintaining an active lifestyle, on the other hand, helps increase metabolism and supports overall physical health. 

The key here is to focus on strengthening your muscles and bones through weight lifting, interval training, aerobic exercise, etc., to become stronger, not “smaller.” As you’ll recall, lean body mass increases basal metabolic rate, which is a key metric for metabolic health.

6. Manage stress regularly.

According to a 2016 scientific review from Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, if left unchecked over time, excess stress can lead to the accumulation of visceral fat, which is fat found in the abdominal cavity that influences hormone levels and is associated with long-term metabolic health concerns.

So, take a few deep breaths and make a plan to integrate more zen into your life, whatever that looks like for you. If meditation and breathwork aren’t your style, consider another soothing self-care activity like taking a bath, walking in nature, or picking up an artistic hobby.

No matter what you do to manage your stress levels, your metabolism will thank you!

7. Consider your hormones.

When it comes to hormonal health, evidence suggests thyroid hormones play a critical role in regulating metabolism, affecting everything from body composition to energy expenditure.

Thyroid hormones help your body metabolize both fat and carbohydrates, supplying your brain and the rest of your body with glucose and ATP as it’s needed. If you’re doing everything you can to support your metabolism but finding your weight loss has plateaued, it may be time to talk to an endocrinologist about how your hormones are affecting your body composition. 

Maintaining a healthy body composition is so much more complex than just “burning more calories than you eat.” Ditch the unhealthy diet fads from the ’90s and adopt a holistic approach to metabolic health by eating nutrient-dense foods, hydrating, sleeping well, and practicing stress management.

For a super-simple way to help activate your metabolism, consider a high-quality daily supplement like mbg’s metabolism+.* This plant-packed formula features veld grape extract, cayenne pepper, grains of paradise, and EGCG plus caffeine from green tea leaves for a fully synergistic approach to metabolic health and body composition management.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.



Multi-pronged approach to promote healthy weight & body composition*



Multi-pronged approach to promote healthy weight & body composition*