We all see health magazines and fitness buff’s blog posts explaining some way to “ignite your metabolism” or otherwise improve it so you can burn fat. Simply put, it is often recommended that those seeking a healthier body need to focus on improving their metabolism. While this is true in most aspects, many people really have no idea how the metabolism works and how their current lifestyle could be weakening it.
First off, let’s consider whether you have low metabolism? Some symptoms of a slow metabolism include:
- Struggling/unable to lose weight
- Weight gain without negative change in diet
- Fatigue or lethargy even with proper sleep
- Digestive problems like cramping, heartburn or bloating
- Shortness of breath without exertion
- Brittle hair and nails
- Overall difficulty concentrating
Having a slow metabolism doesn’t just affect getting the body you want but your overall health and well-being. If you’ve noticed some of the above symptoms you might be committing one of these 4 common metabolism dampeners.
- Yo-Yo Dieting or Not Eating Enough Food
Your metabolism is responsible for what your body does with the diet you eat. Yo-yo dieting, an unhealthy cycle of crash dieting and weight loss, can have harmful effects on your body. Unstable eating habits, like eating well one week and then binging on junk the next, are equally harmful. Both of these will slow down your metabolism.
There are is one main way these cycles harm your metabolism. A major part of yo-yo dieting often involves skipping meals or only eating enough to function in effort to lose weight. The lack of nutrients shocks your body and sends it into survival mode. Thus, your body will hold onto all the nutrients it can and begin storing fat. Obviously this is the exact opposite of what you are generally going to want.
Rather than going with a diet that promises ridiculous or “too good to be true” results, choose a way of eating that you can adopt as a lifestyle. You might not get the results as quickly but you will be improving your metabolism and your overall health as well keep the weight off in the long run. To get a good idea of how much you should eat, visit iifym.com and myfitnesspal.com
- Lack of Good Carbs in Your Diet
There is much controversy when it comes to carbohydrates and dieting. Some people believe that a high-carb diet is a great route while those who follow a low-carb diet warn of the “dangers” of eating too many carbs. Neither view is 100% true. The interesting thing with carbs in diets is that it can be very individual. Some people can maintain a high metabolism and overall health while eating a lot of grains for example. Others might have a body type that thrives and drops weight on low-carbs. That being said, if you are experiencing symptoms of a slow metabolism, you might want to consider increasing the carbs you eat.
Carbs deliver energy to the body. They make an excellent fuel and are especially important for athletes that require a ton of energy to do whatever activity it is that they do. When you don’t eat enough carbs you might feel weak or unable to get through your workout with the effort you usually can. We are not talking junk food and highly processed foods here. Good carbs should be consumed through health, whole foods like grains, fruits and vegetables. Processed sugar and white flour provides carbs and energy but you will crash.
Slowly increase the amount of good carbs you eat and see if your energy level changes. Sometimes just a little extra can give our body that boost you’ve been craving. Here is some additional info on good carbs.
- Not Eating Enough Good Fat
Fat is often viewed as something bad and unhealthy. This is unfortunate as fat is required for a healthy diet, a healthy brain and is also an amazing source of energy. The problem with fat is there are both good and bad types of it. Healthy fats come from healthy foods like nuts, fish, lean meat, etc. You want to focus on getting a reasonable amount of these fats. Unhealthy fat is generally going to occur in heavily processed foods, even those that might outwardly appear healthy. Trans-fats are the main culprits in the standard American diet. If you want to lose weight, you already know that unhealthy fats are not for you.
There is also controversy over saturated fats (those that come from meats and dairy) and whether they are dangerous. It is often stated that these fats increase cholesterol and can eventually cause pre-diabetes. Interestingly enough, some research is starting to show that this may be false. You can find one article about this here. Many people are beginning their own tests on this subject, including where very prominent documentary called Cereal Killers, in which a man reversed his pre-diabetes and drastically lowered his bad cholesterol by adopting a high-fat diet. I personally would not advise a high-fat diet, but I do suggest that you get enough healthy fats in your diet. Balance is the key in everything.
- Lack of Intensity in Your Workouts
Many people don’t realize that a slow metabolism isn’t always just caused by diet. The way you exercise can also negatively or positively affect it as well. Generally people that don’t exercise often will have a lower metabolism or at least their body won’t function as well as it could than those who do some regular movement on a regular basis. We are basically talking about people who don’t exercise at all and who avoid physical activity. Those who exercise regularly will automatically have a better functioning body but could be missing out if their program lacks intensity. Bottomline: The body needs to move. It was built to move.
High-intensity workouts, like strength training or cross-fit, have proven to be very effective. Studies have shown that those who regularly did resistance training saw an increase of their resting metabolic rate (RMR) which in turned caused their body to burn an extra 100 calories a day. Cardio is also effective, with studies showing the same increase and even some more calories burned compared to resistance training. You can find information about those two studies here. Strength training helps as well because muscle tissue burns fat at rest, boosting your metabolic rate as well.
If you’ve been struggling getting to your goal weight or toning up your body, you might be having an issue with your metabolism. Stop crash dieting, eat an abundance of healthy foods and exercise. Begin making the lifestyle changes that are suitable for your body. You don’t have to eat grass or workout like a fitness model, you just have to figure out what works for YOU. Begin exercising regularly and include high-intensity workouts that are appropriate for your fitness level. If you still feel like you’re having an issue you may have a medical issue like hypothyroidism or pre-diabetes and therefore should consult your doctor.