Habits That Can Sabotage Your Metabolism

by Carina Wolff

When it comes to our metabolism, most of us try to think of ways to boost it, and we don't necessarily think about what we could be doing that would slow it down. Even if we are aware of the major culprits, there are likely a number of sneaky habits that are sabotaging your metabolism. Knowing what these habits are can help us ditch those them and get our body burning up fuel exactly the way we want to.

We are born with a certain metabolic rate, but the choices we make also have an influence over how our body burns energy. "Over the course of your life, if you stay active, will see a tremendous difference in the rate that your body metabolizes food," says says Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN over email. "As people age, their metabolism quite naturally slows down. The greatest way to slow this process down is through exercise and staying fit."

Although everyone's metabolic rate is different, there are a number of common denominators that can affect how fast your body burns through energy. If you want to keep your metabolism at its best, try ditching these nine habits, which could be slowing down your energy burn.

1. Skipping Meals

Whether you're too cramped for time to eat breakfast or you can't break away from your desk at lunch, starving your body can slow down your metabolism. "You must start your day off with all the nutrients your body is expecting; proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates and veggies are essential to getting your metabolism firing in the morning," says Mashru. "Once you start your day off right, you should refuel yourself every three to four hours."

2. Not Getting Enough Sleep

"The amount of rest you get each night doesn't only affect your mood and productivity the next day," says Mashru. "Researchers have found that it also affects your metabolism. Sleep-deprived individuals have a decreased ability to manage blood sugar levels and also may find themselves hungrier — particularly for high carbohydrate foods.

3. Sitting At Your Desk Job

If you're seated from nine to five, your body is shutting down at the metabolic level, according to Women's Health. Try setting an alarm to get up for 20 minutes every hour, or stand for part of the time while you are on the job.

4. Only Doing Cardio

"Even though cardio and other aerobic exercises such as indoor cycling are very heart healthy, doing only these types of exercises will not speed up your metabolism," says Mashru. Cardio increases your metabolism immediately after you exercise, but the effect lasts longer when you do an exercise like strength training or high intensity interval training. "By incorporating strength training, which helps build lean muscle, the body's metabolism will speed up," she says.

5. Stressing Out

"If you have chronically elevated stress levels, your metabolism can be negatively affected," says Mashru. "When stress levels increase, the body produces the stress hormone, cortisol, which can turn the body into a fat-storage mode."

6. Not Drinking Enough Water

"If you are working out and eating nutritiously but forget to drink water, your metabolism will not speed up," says Mashru. "The body, which is made mostly of water, needs to be hydrated." A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking water can increase your metabolic rate by 30 percent

7. Eating A Heavy Dinner

Try to eat bigger meals for breakfast or lunch instead of for dinner. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who ate later burned less calories while resting and digesting than people who ate the same amount of food earlier in the day

8. Overusing The AC

If you're keep your home at near-freezing temperatures, you might want to turn up that thermostat. Cold temperatures can cause your metabolism to slow down, as your body starts to conserve energy and heat, according to

9. Not Eating Enough Iron During Your Period

"During menstrual period, you lose more iron, which help deliver oxygen to your muscles," says Mashru. "When you are lacking iron, your metabolism slows down. In order to avoid this happens, add more iron rich food to your diet, such as beans, spinach, raisins, lean beef."

Everyone's body functions differently, but the more consistent your healthy habits are, the better your metabolic rate will be.

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