Quick and painless description of what exactly your metabolism is: the highly complex biochemical processes by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. The rate at which these processes take place is termed metabolic rate. Everyone’s basic metabolic rate differs based on their age, sex, and percent of lean muscle tissue. With that being said, there are certain things that you can do to keep your metabolism running at a healthy pace. Having a slow metabolism can mean you gain weight easily or have trouble losing weight when dieting. Check out this list of mistakes you be making that are seriously sabotaging your metabolism.
1. You’re not eating enough.
It’s important to be conscious of your calorie intake when trying to lose weight. However, cutting too many calories will cause the exact thing that you don’t want to happen. When you eat less than you need for doing day-to-day biological functions (depending on the person it’s usually less than 1,200 calories), your metabolism will literally slow to a halt. Also, instead of breaking down fat, your body will start to use precious, calorie-burning muscle tissue as a source of energy.
The Fix: The healthiest way to keep your metabolism running at a healthy and steady pace is to eat every 3 to 4 hours. This doesn’t mean you have to eat a full meal every few hours, but eating healthy and nutritious snacks between your main meals will help to keep your metabolism running all day long. Also, instead of counting calories, try to focus on filling your body with healthy, unprocessed foods.
2. Your diet lacks protein.
In order to maintain lean muscle your body needs protein. Although eating fruits and veggies all day may seem like the healthiest thing to do because they have few calories, a lot of fiber and a lot great vitamins and minerals, your body will actually suffer from a lack of protein and fat.
The Fix: Make sure that you have at least one serving of protein with each main meal. This can be 3 ounces of lean meat, a cup of delicious Greek yogurt, or about a handful of your favorite nuts. Also, try to get an extra serving of protein in during one of your snacks during the day. This can be as simple as swapping that starchy bag of Lay’s potato chips that you have everyday at 3 o’clock for a small container of Greek yogurt with some berries and granola.
3. You’re not drinking enough water.
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. In order for our bodies to function at an optimal level, they need to stay properly hydrated. Among many bodily processes, your metabolism is in charge of digestion, muscle contraction, and removal of all your bodily waste. Without water, these processes will begin to slow down, and so will your metabolism.
The Fix: It’s simple, make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. How much is enough? It’s recommended that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water everyday, or at least a half-gallon. If you ask me, the best thing to do is forget the numbers and pay attention to your body. Basically, if your pee is a very light yellow color, you’re in good shape. Whether you have to set an alarm on your phone or keep a reusable bottle in your bag, just make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the day.
4. Your carbs are white.
So, here’s the thing: white bread isn’t the only “white” carb. White carbs can be anything from baked goods, chips, white pasta, white rice, candy, potatoes, etc. These foods don’t contain a lot fiber and are easier for your body to digest, meaning there is less energy expenditure.
The Fix: I already know what you’re thinking. Yes, I know white bread tastes better than wheat bread. Too bad! By switching to whole wheat bread and pasta and eating more fruits and veggies you can significantly boost your fiber intake. By eating more fiber you can boost your fat burn by up to 30%. Kiss goodbye to the days of PB&J’s on your beloved Wonderbread!
5. You slack at breakfast time.
News flash: skipping breakfast or simply throwing back a handful of cereal and calling it a morning isn’t doing anything for your body. Not only do regularly scheduled meals keep your metabolism trekking along, starting the day with a protein-packed, nutrient dense breakfast is crucial.
The Fix: Kickstart your morning by preparing a delicious protein-packed breakfast such as an egg white omelette packed with veggies and cheese and a side of turkey bacon and whole wheat toast. If you’re not a morning person, or always find yourself running late in the AM, try to prepare something the night before that you can take on your way out the door! Get all the ingredients together for a healthy summer smoothie!
6. You don’t have a steady sleep routine.
Although staying out later on the weekends and living it up is plenty of fun, just one night of sleep loss can screw with your circadian rhythms. What you don’t realize is that your circadian rhythms greatly impact your metabolism. Losing sleep doesn’t just make you feel like crap because you’re tired, your metabolism is also thrown all out of whack.
The Fix: Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time everyday.
7. You’re not doing enough exercise.
I hate to break it to you, but even if you have the healthiest diet in the world, it doesn’t mean anything unless it’s paired with having an active lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate an hour every single day to sweating your butt off at the gym, but a little weight lifting and cardio every here and there won’t hurt either! The more active you are, the more calories you burn! Try to aim for a healthy work out three times a week, be it cycling, yoga, or a light jog.
The Fix: Try to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise everyday. This can be as simple as going for a bike ride or taking a hike with your friends. Also, make sure you are incorporating strength training into your workout routine. This will help build calorie-burning muscle tissue!
It’s time to be more aware of how your decisions are impacting your body. Maintaining a healthy running metabolism will not only keep you physically happy and healthy, you will ultimately feel better too. Next time you reach for that piece of white bread for your PB&J, think again. Try some wheat bread. Hit the gym instead of watching another episode of Parks and Rec. Grab a yogurt parfait with some healthy nuts and fruit for a snack instead of a brownie loaded with carbs and sugar. It’s time to stop sabotaging yourself and make healthy choices.