Did you know that metabolism highly affects weight loss? A higher metabolic rate leads to faster weight loss compared to a slow metabolic rate. Some people are naturally blessed with high metabolic rates and will burn calories much faster.
However, some habits that we do in our daily routine can also affect our metabolism. Examples of these habits are poor quality sleep, eating very few calories, not drinking enough water, being so much stressed out and others as we shall discuss in this article.
What is metabolism and how is it related to weight loss?
Metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions that maintain the living state of cells in the body. It is linked to nutrition in that through metabolic processes, the body burns what you eat or drink into energy.
Our bodies burn calories through the energy we need to keep the body functioning at rest (basal metabolic rate), through everyday activities and through exercise.
A high or fast metabolism implies burning more calories at rest and during activity. This means that you’ll need to take in more calories to maintain your weight. That’s why one person can eat more than others without gaining weight.
However, with a “low” or slow metabolism, you burn fewer calories at rest and during activity. You, therefore, have to eat less to avoid becoming overweight.
Factors such as genes inherited, body size or weight, sex, activity levels, stress levels, age, hormonal changes, and others have a great effect on your metabolic rate, which is the speed or time taken to breakdown calories.
At the same time, some of our daily habits or behaviors can slow down metabolism. This is when you find a person on a weight loss-friendly diet, do regular exercises but still not losing weight. In the next section, we explore some of the habits that may unknowingly be slowing down your metabolism.
What habits or mistakes slow down metabolism?
Being less active can decrease the metabolic rate and the number of calories that you burn. A sedentary lifestyle is more common in people who work while seated, gamers, or just people that spend much time in one place doing less vigorous activities. This has a negative effect on their metabolism since the body will not be demanding energy in the form of calories.
Being active still, does not mean playing sports or working out but even mere walking, standing up, doing home chores, or the use of stairs instead of an elevator can be considered as being active.
Therefore, workouts and other activities that demand the use of energy can speed up metabolism.
Consuming very few calories.
Eating calories that are less than 1000 calories per day can cause a decrease in metabolism. Although consuming fewer calories and being in a calorie deficit can cause weight loss, eating too few calories can cause the body to cut the speed at which it burns calories.
The body will interpret the calorie deficit as starvation and slowing down metabolic rate is a protective measure to prevent the body from running out of energy by limiting its consumption.
This can be overcome by consuming enough calories. Although you must be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, avoid consuming less than 1000 calories as this will slow down your metabolism instead.
Not drinking enough water.
Dehydration can slow metabolism up to about 30%. Just as consuming fewer calories does, when the body is dehydrated, it senses the danger of starvation forcing the body to limit its calorie expenditure to conserve energy.
This in turn slows down the metabolism making your body burn fewer calories.
It should be noted that water is very essential for weight loss and metabolism. In case you haven’t read interesting facts about drinking water for weight loss, read the article here.
You should therefore increase your water intake to avoid slowing your metabolism. There are various apps that can help you estimate the amount of water you need to drink depending on your weight, weather, and other factors.
Not getting quality sleep can lead to many health conditions such as illnesses, weight gain, stress, and many others. Lack of proper sleep can cause a slowed metabolism too.
People who don’t get quality sleep throughout the night tend to also become lazy, sluggish, and tired during the day. This will make them do fewer physical activities thus fewer calories burned. There are many health hazards associated with getting poor sleep.
Did you know that even with proper sleep one’s metabolic rate can increase?
Fact: Proper sleep can increase metabolic rate and aid weight loss. Read the full article here about Lose weight by sleeping rightly (Includes tips).
If you are having trouble with falling asleep, try the use of herbs, apps, foods, or other ways that can help you fall asleep much faster.
Getting around 8 hours of quality sleep can increase your metabolism, improve health, aid weight loss, and make you happier.
Stress can trigger many health hazards to your body and a slowed metabolism is one of them.
When you are stressed out, you may lose appetite for food or actually make poor food choices. The loss of appetite, for example, implies fewer calorie intake which in turn reduces the metabolic rate.
Try stress-relieving activities such as being around with family, sex, watching your favorite TV shows, yoga, outdoor hobbies, and many others. Some herbal teas also have stress-relieving abilities, vanilla tea is my favorite.
Read more: The health benefits of vanilla tea.
Too many processed foods.
Highly processed foods require less energy to digest compared to whole nutritious foods. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF), which is 10% of your daily energy expenditure
Consuming a whole grain sandwich with cheddar cheese for example will burn twice as many calories digesting and metabolizing the meal than when you eat a sandwich made of refined grains and processed cheese.
Eating whole and unprocessed foods can help boost your metabolism. Whenever possible avoid processed foods, avoid processed foods.
Not eating enough calcium.
Calcium is very essential in regulating metabolism and not having enough of it can slow your metabolism.
To increase your metabolic rate, you should consume foods that are high in calcium. Dairy products and leafy vegetables are rich in calcium, other foods are soya, fortified flour, fish, and others.
On average, an adult will need about 700mg of calcium per day.
- Not having enough proteins.
Just like calcium, proteins are also very essential in maintaining a healthy weight as well as increased metabolism.
Proteins increase metabolic rate through a process known as the thermic effect of food. According to Wikipedia, the Thermic effect of food is the energy required for digestion, absorption, and dispose of ingested nutrients.
The thermic energy needed for proteins is higher than that of other foods. Due to this, the intake of proteins increases metabolism by about 20-30% compared to 5-10% of carbs.
Irregular eating habits.
When you don’t have a fixed eating schedule, your body will slow down your metabolism to conserve energy just in case you are to fall into starvation.
You should therefore have a fixed eating schedule and try to stick to it. This will also help improve your eating habits and fighting eating conditions such as binge eating.
To get you a little bit from the topic, binge eating is a type of eating disorder where one can eat a lot of food in a very short period of time more often even when not hungry.
Learn more about binge eating by reading the article: Binge eating discussed and its health risks, symptoms, and solutions.
Other causes of a slowed metabolism.
Besides bad habits and behaviors, some natural processes can also lead to a slowed metabolism. These are;
Age: metabolism tends to decrease as we age. Most especially after the age of 30, the metabolic rate drops since muscle mass decreases and this decreases metabolism in the process.
Hormonal imbalance: A decrease in hormones such as estrogen and testosterone can decrease muscle mass. A decrease in muscle mass can help lead to a decreased metabolism.
Medications: metabolic rate can also be slowed by some medications and drugs such as antidepressants, diabetic medications, steroids, and anti-thyroid agents.
Chronic diseases: metabolic rate can also be slowed down by certain diseases such as diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, and others.
Gender: men have a lower fat percentage with a higher muscle mass compared to women. Leaving other factors constant, men will have a higher metabolism than women.
The bottom line:
Even with increased metabolism, weight loss may not be guaranteed. In order to lose weight, one must be in a calorie deficit. By this, eating weight loss-friendly foods and working out can help you achieve weight loss.
You may also be interested in the articles below.
Weight loss-friendly foods. (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Habits and foods to avoid to lose weight faster.
Weight loss dos and don’ts. (Check out what you have always been doing wrong)