While its important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that can keep your metabolism elevated throughout the day and make you feel more confident, fit and energized, it's also worthy to take note of the things that can slow our metabolism and make it harder for us to achieve that calorie burn. As a certified health coach, I work with clients on revving their metabolism throughout the day, and the way we achieve this is by sticking to clean, whole foods for the majority of the day, sneaking in cardio and strength training most days of the week, and reducing stress when obstacles pop up.
Any stress, which triggers the release of cortisol, can cause our metabolisms to feel sluggish, and if we reach for sugary, processed foods instead of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, then we will only feed our emotions and exacerbate the lack of burn. Thus, it is important to be aware of our bodies, emotions and tendencies and strive to avoid lifestyle habits that can wreck our metabolisms. By getting rid of bad habits and forming new, healthy and sustainable ones, we will be better able to keep our metabolism high and efficient. Look for these eleven things that we should stop doing now, as they can weaken our metabolic rate.
1. Forgetting To Eat
While we are likely to get busy, forgetting to eat and skipping meals can cause our bodies to go into starvation mode. Plus, it's likely that we will later experience cravings or unruly hunger and reach for something sugary and caloric. It's also not okay to eat one giant meal, as that will slow metabolism too. "Restricting calories and eating all of your calories at one time (and not eating throughout the day) will shut your metabolism down," advises running coach and personal trainer, Susie Lemmer over email with Bustle.
2. Being Stressed AF
When we are stressed out, our bodies produce cortisol, "the stress hormone," which is directly known for promoting fat storage within the body. When we store fat, our metabolism is less efficient and fewer calories will be burned throughout the day. To help reduce stress, try meditation or yoga, as these have been shown to lower cortisol and make us feel calmer.
3. Sitting For Most Of The Day
If you have an office job and find yourself sitting around all day, that sedentary lifestyle, even if you a regular exerciser when outside of work, can slow your metabolism and make the body more inactive over time. Instead of quitting your job, make time for short breaks throughout the day. Set an alarm to get moving every hour or so, and opt for the bathroom that is furthest away from your desk for some extra steps.
4. Not Sleeping Enough
If you skimp on sleep, you might experience a hormonal imbalance, as well as mood disturbances and food cravings that can lead you to make poorer choices that will further slow your metabolism. Getting enough sleep is so important for a faster metabolism, as not getting enough hours can lead to fat storage and fewer calories burned. Aim to get between seven and nine hours nightly.
5. Not Eating Protein
Simply eating carbohydrates all day, even from healthy sources, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, will not be as effective as eating protein with these other foods, regarding metabolic rate. Protein elevates the metabolism and fights craving, and you burn more calories through digestion when you are eating a protein source, as opposed to a carbohydrate or fat source. Include protein with each meal for best results. "Get each macronutrient every time you eat," advises Lemmer.
6. Eating Too Many Pesticides
While organic produce can be costly, research has shown that pesticides can interfere with our metabolisms and damage our health over time. While cutting out normal produce entirely might be too difficult, choosing where to prioritize an extra splurge can be really beneficial for weight management. Follow the dirty dozen, clean fifteen guide and try and purchase free-range or cage-free eggs and organic meats when possible.
7. Cranking The Heat
If you crank up the thermostat to a toasty temperature, you might feel comfortable and snuggly, but your metabolism could slow down and not burn calories as efficiently. Studies show that cooler temperatures result in a greater burn, and that's why if we shift our eating and exercise habits in the winter, our bodies are actually at a major advantage, as opposed to warmer seasons/climates. Keep the temperature in the sixties or so for maximum benefits.
8. Not Eating Enough Table Salt
While eating too much sodium is bad for your health and cholesterol, not having enough table salt can throw your hormones off and prevent you from getting adequate iodine, a mineral that is needed for a fully-functioning and efficient metabolism. Another note: if you have hypothyroidism, where you are under-producing thyroid hormone and benefit from iodine, you will also experience a sluggish metabolism.
9. Trying Fad Diets
Trying fad diets can wreck the metabolism, and it will likely cause your body to go into starvation mode, lose muscle and store fat, advises certified healthy lifestyle coach, Liz Traines over email with Bustle. "Also stop eating processed foods (anything that comes in a sealed box or bag - with the exception of nuts/seeds)," she adds, as these foods lack nutrition and can trigger cravings for more unhealthy foods.
10. Not Ending A Meal With A Walk
Eating lunch at your desk or dinner on a couch to pair with a movie can upset digestion and prevent your body from burning your meal as effectively as it could with a little extra movement. After eating a big meal, "take a light walk to ease digestion," says Traines, as the activity will also regulate blood sugar levels and prevent a spike from occurring post-meal.
11. You Don't Eat Dairy
While not everyone can eat dairy (lactose-intolerant and sensitive people must be careful), whey and casein proteins, found in dairy, as well as calcium, a key mineral abundant in dairy products, all play a major role in promoting a fast and efficient metabolism. If you are unable to eat dairy, look for other ways to get adequate calcium, such as in almond milk, macadamia milk, leafy greens and soy products.
While getting adequate sleep, nutrients and exercise can boost the metabolism, understanding which healthy lifestyle behaviors can maximize your burn and which patterns can negatively impact the rate will allow you to make better decisions during the day. Sticking with whole foods, eating throughout the day, staying active and taking care of your stress levels will all make you feel lighter and happier.
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