There are many lifestyle factors that can contribute to a slower metabolism, and while genetics may play a crucial role in developing a base metabolic rate, there are ways to slow or speed the metabolism through everyday movement and digestion. Yet, there are times your metabolism is slower than it should be, and for when this rate is noticeable, it's important to take action to avoid triggers that can hurt the metabolism and work towards increasing beneficial activities and foods that can boost the speed.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on getting in tune with their bodies in order to identity things that are either working or not regarding health goals and overall wellbeing. For instance, if your digestion is off, there might be something in your diet that could be increasing bacteria or gas, such as excess sugar or too high a content of raw cruciferous veggies and beans. Inflammation can also be created from lack of sleep, pollution, a diet high in sugar and unhealthy fats, lack of exercise, and stress, among other offenders, and these habits can slow down the metabolism to encourage fat storage and fatigue.
Look for these 11 signs to see if your metabolism is slower than it should be and learn how to start the healing process ASAP.
1. You Have Thyroid Disease
People who have hypothyroidism, where the body cannot produce adequate thyroid hormone, or Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease that consists of an impaired in functioning thyroid gland, often experience weight gain due to a slower metabolism and an overall feeling of lethargy and depression. Such emotional and physical stress, as well as a sluggish thyroid gland, can slow the metabolism.
2. You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep
It's pretty easy to tally the hours we get while sleeping. If you notice that you are getting fewer than seven hours of a sleep a night, then your metabolism is likely to be slower than it should be. Our bodies need restorative sleep, of seven to nine hours nightly, to keep our metabolisms high, stable and efficient. If you find it difficult to get enough sleep, set an alarm to remind yourself to get ready for bed earlier in the evening.
3. You Don't Drink Enough Water
Drinking liquids, such as water and tea, during the day will keep the body hydrated and ward off potential cravings for sweets and salty snack foods. If you know that you aren't drinking regularly throughout the day, then your metabolism is not working as well as it should. The metabolism speeds up when our bodies consume water, so drinking often will prevent the decline.
4. You Eat Mostly Carbohydrates
While eating carbohydrates is great for providing immediate energy, as well as fiber and other important nutrients if it is a complex carbohydrate, it can be absorbed easily by the body through digestion and does not aid in keeping the metabolism raised during the day. Eat whole wheat, whole grains, and bran for the most nutrients, but eat foods that work to increase the metabolism in congruence.
5. You Don't Eat Enough Protein
"Making sure you're eating enough protein is probably one of the easiest ways to positively impact your metabolism," says Corey Friese, VP of Product Strategy of Vital Proteins, who recommends adding collagen to the diet. Protein not only keeps you full longer and prevents cravings later on in the day, but it also boosts the metabolism and burns off calories from the food itself through the digestive process, so that they are not stored in the body as fat. If you are not getting enough protein through lean meats, beans and legumes, dairy, fish and nuts, then you're not letting your metabolism be as efficient or fast as it has potential to be.
6. You're Only Doing Cardio
If you attend spin, kickboxing and bootcamp classes on the reg or stick to morning runs, without saving time for strength training and body weight exercises, you might be making your metabolism slower than it should be. Doing excess cardio can burn off muscle, and muscle helps speed resting metabolism. Combine both for a faster rate and more efficient process.
7. You Skip Meals
If you find yourself restricting calories or forgetting to eat lunch in the middle of the day, your body is not getting the fuel it needs to run properly. "Starvation mode slows your metabolism," says certified healthy lifestyle coach, Liz Traines, in an email with Bustle. Make sure to eat every three or four hours throughout the day to keep metabolism high.
8. You Are Inactive For Most Of The Day
While getting in an exercise session can be great for the body, if the majority of your day is spent sitting, rather than standing, you are likely slowing your metabolism and limiting its potential. Take breaks at work for walks, bathroom runs, and ten minute chats with co-workers. After dinner, "take a light walk to ease digestion," suggests Traines.
9. You're Eating Mostly Processed Foods
If you find yourself avoiding the kitchen appliances and opting for takeout and processed foods for the majority of meals, then you are consuming too many unhealthy additives, hidden sugars, salts, and bad fats (such as trans!). These substances can make the metabolism more sluggish than it should be, and they can raise risk for various diseases due to an increase in inflammation and hormonal imbalances.
10. You're Constantly Stressed
If you notice that you are more stressed than usual, your cortisol levels are likely spiking upon onset and then remaining in an elevated, chronic state over time. Increases in cortisol can make the metabolism slower than it should be, as that added tension can cause our bodies to promote fat storage, crave sugary and fattening foods, and not function as efficiently. Try some relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to heal.
11. You Enjoy A Drink With Each Meal
If you find yourself ordering a drink or two every day, either with dinner, lunch, or both, you can be making your metabolism slower than it should be. Experts say that alcohol can hinder our ability to burn food efficiently, and it can promote fat storage, as well. Having a beer or glass of wine when dining out or upon enjoying dinner at home might seem casual, but over time, it can lead to a slower working metabolism.
In addition to working out, eating a diet rich in whole foods and nutrients, managing stress and getting enough sleep, it's important to take care of your body and be knowledgable of when there might be a sign of a metabolic offender. Eliminating or reducing these triggers can allow your metabolism to work more efficiently and meet its full potential.
Images: Ali Inay/Unsplash; Pixabay (12)