You’ve probably heard many people blame weight gain on their metabolism over the years, but is it really something that you have no control over? And what is it exactly anyway?
It’s actually fairly simple, and the good news, is that you do have the power to change it. It’s simply a measure of how quickly you convert the calories you take in into energy, and it’s made up of numerous chemical reactions in the body. For example, if your liver is clogged up, it will be less efficient, and sluggish, which means it won’t help you burn fat.
The metabolism can vary from one person to the next, and it’s such a big concept, that many believe they’re at the mercy of it, but that’s simply not true. A fast metabolism can be achieved by following a healthy diet that’s low in sugar and low in unhealthy fats and unnecessary junk like toxins found in processed foods, as well as getting regular aerobic and weight-bearing exercise. If you want to slow your metabolism and find yourself low on energy as well as struggling to lose weight, well, that’s probably a whole lot easier.
All you have to do is make these mistakes that are killing your metabolism.
1. You don’t get enough sleep
Getting quality sleep each night – experts advise 7 to 9 hours a night – is essential for a healthy, fast metabolism as it has a direct effect on a number of hormones that regulate both the appetite and stress: leptin, ghrelin, and cortisol. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have a higher level of ghrelin and cortisol in your bloodstream, and a lower level of leptin, which is known to suppress appetite and moderate energy levels too. It can cause you to burn fewer calories and experience an inability to control your appetite. Just about everyone has the occasional night without much sleep, but if it becomes a regular habit, you’d actually be better off increasing your sleep hours than exercising, if maintaining your weight or losing weight is your goal.
2. You’re dehydrated
If you don’t drink enough water and let your body become dehydrated, you’re setting yourself up for a slower metabolism. When you wake up in the morning, you’re already dehydrated as you haven’t had any fluids for hours, and your metabolic function slows during sleep. One of the best ways to combat this is to drink water soon after waking. It will help you have more energy, and your appetite won’t be as big either. Many experts recommend adding a squeeze of lemon to that water to boost the process.
3. You consume artificial sweeteners
Many people think they’re doing something good by consuming diet beverages and other products that contain artificial sweeteners, simply because they have few or no calories. But the reality is, they’re one of the worst things you can put into your body – and a sure way to slow that metabolism. That’s because artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can actually trigger your appetite as well as cravings for simple carbs. You might think you’re “saving” calories by consuming drinks or foods with artificial sweeteners, but in the long run, you end up consuming more calories than you would have in the first place.
Don’t believe it? Research that analyzed the effect of consuming diet sodas on rates of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and diabetes in more than 6,000 volunteers found that consuming even just one of these drinks dramatically increased both weight gain and waist circumference.
4. You’re drinking too much alcohol
Either avoid alcohol or limit yourself to one drink. When you have an alcoholic beverage, you burn less fat as that alcohol is used for fuel instead. The equivalent of just two martinis can reduce your body’s ability to burn fat by as much as 73 percent.
5. You skip meals
Skipping meals, or restricting your calories too much, is a bad idea. While you do have to cut calories to lose weight, overdoing it doesn’t work. That’s because you’re sending a message to your body that you’re starving, and it will slow your metabolism to conserve energy. Your body will want to make up those lost calories at the next meal, making your more likely to overeat and counteract your earlier efforts. Plus, you may become dizzy, tired, irritable, or all three, which leaves you less likely to eat something healthy than you normally would.
On top of all that, when you skip meals, your body starts to break down muscle tissue for energy, and the less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. It’s important to eat just enough so that you’re not hungry, which is usually three meals a day, as well as a midmorning and midafternoon nutritious snack. Eating every three to four hours helps you stay satisfied and prevents overeating later in the day.
6. You eat non-organic foods
Studies have found that dieters who have the most organochlorines, which are pollutants from pesticides that often come with non-organic foods, experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism. The experts believe this may be because those chemicals are triggering weight gain.
The other problem with eating foods that aren’t organic, particularly produce like apples, strawberries, peaches, lettuce, pears, celery, and cherries, is that hormones in those foods may be messing with your body’s processes. Our reproductive, thyroid and growth hormones, as well as insulin, hunger and appetite hormones, have a challenging task of keeping our body’s lean and full of energy, as well as being viable reproductive beings. Hormones found in non-organic foods like beef, eggs, and dairy, make that task a whole lot harder, which throws the metabolism out of whack. It doesn’t have to break the bank either if you shop smart!
7. The thermostat is too high
Humans are endotherms, which means that you can actually set heat free from within your body in order to regulate its temperature, instead of solely relying on the ambient temperature. That process also helps to burn calories. If you turn the temperature on your thermostat down and let your body do more of the work, you’ll burn more calories. One study out of the National Institute of Health discovered that those who slept in bedrooms at an average of 66 degrees Fahrenheit for a month, managed to double the amount of brown adipose tissue (kind of fat that burns calories instead of storing them) they burned. Experts say that brown fat becomes more active when it’s cooler in order to keep us warm. So turn down the heat, and even lower at bedtime, to prevent a slower metabolism.
8. You’re eating processed foods
Processed foods do a number of negative things to body – they’re a big factor in all sorts of health issues, including weight gain and obesity. That’s because they typically contain a lot of sugar, which interferes with the enzyme which is essential for fat burning: lipase. Lipase is suppressed in the body when your blood sugar levels spike.
Additionally, processed foods tend to be filled with additives like MSG, a high amount of salt, and hormones that can mess with important fat-burning ones.
9. You’re lacking iron
Iron is a must in order for carrying oxygen that the muscles need in order to burn fat. Up through menopause, women lose iron every month during menstruation, so it’s important to restock those stores or you’ll run the risk of a slower metabolism and lower energy levels too. Add foods like spinach, beans, and lean grass-fed meats to your diet to ensure you’re meeting your body’s iron needs.
10. You cook with canola oil
Using the wrong type of oil for cooking can really put a wrench in your efforts to lose weight. Using canola oil, or other types of vegetable oils is a sure way to slow that weight loss to a crawl, and even trigger your body to store more fat. That’s because it contains hydrogenated oils which lead to excess inflammation throughout the body. When there is too much inflammation, that disrupts hormones and metabolism.
If that’s not bad enough, 90 percent of canola oil is GMO (genetically modified), which means they’re also full of pesticides, which as mentioned, destroy your metabolism and general health.
It’s actually fairly easy to replace all of your vegetable oils. Use coconut oil or grass-fed butter instead, both of which raise the metabolism rather than slow it. Coconut oil promotes fat loss as it’s high in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), while grass-fed butter supports it because it’s high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). Both of these fats are ideal for seriously revving up that metabolism.
11. You’re lacking protein
Protein is essential for maintaining and building lean muscle. It also helps to fill you up and keep you satisfied, which means you’ll be less likely to eat unhealthy foods that slow the metabolism. Ideally, you should be including a serving of protein at every meal, such as 2 tablespoons of nuts, 8 ounces of plain yogurt or 3 ounces of lean, grass-fed meat. Research has shown it can help rev your post-meal calorie burn as much as 35 percent while helping you to build more muscle, which means you’ll even burn more calories while you rest.
12. You’re exercising at the wrong time
Exercising is certainly a must, and if you’re doing it regularly, that’s an important step in keeping the metabolism burning at its max, but you could do better by working out in the early morning sunlight. Experts from Northwestern University discovered evidence that exercising during this time of day may help regulate your circadian rhythm which controls many of the functions your body performs, like how much you eat, how much energy you burn, and how well you sleep.
Try to get in the habit of exercising first thing in the morning – multiple studies have shown that those who do this have a lower BMI as compared to those who get outside and exercise later in the day.
13. You’re consuming whole grains
While whole grains have been recommended by many diet experts over the years, the reality is, most are far from healthy or doing your metabolism any favors. In fact, some say, these are actually one of the main factors in a super slow metabolism and struggles with weight loss. There are three primary compounds found in whole grains that have a negative impact on the metabolism, including phytic acid, starch, and gluten. Gluten is well known to cause excess inflammation, the root of practically all diseases and illnesses. Starch quickly turns to sugar, while phytic acid binds to minerals, which means, most of the vitamins and minerals in those whole grains are actually going to waste, rather than helping your metabolism.
Some of the worst “whole grain” foods to consume are cereal, bread, pasta, crackers, muffins, flours and granola bars. Try to replace most of your whole grain consumption with fruits and vegetables, and limit yourself to one piece of sprouted grain bread. If you’re going to make your own, look for recipes that call for coconut flour instead of wheat flour. Coconut flour is a superfood and a great tool to have when you want to lose weight as it’s high in fiber, which supports quicker weight loss, as well as healthy fats the body can use to burn fuel.
14. You’re a juicer
Many people have been turning to juices as a way to lose weight, but if you’re juicing lots of fruit, you’re getting lots of sugar. And, unlike what most people believe, it’s not necessarily fat that will make you fat, but sugar. Downing so-called healthy juices, which means consuming too much sugar, will completely destroy your metabolism.
Even worse are store-bought juices like orange or apple juice, as they’re basically chemical-filled sugar water. In order to make that apple juice, for example, the apple is pressed and all of the fiber is removed. Then it’s heated through pasteurization at 280 degrees before being dried and turned into a concentrate. Then, all of the sugar, and often flavorings, artificial colors and so on, are added in.
For a fast metabolism, aim to avoid all types of sugar, which is often hidden in names like juice concentrate, fructose, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin and evaporated cane syrup.