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5 Habits to Break to Boost Your Metabolism


December 23, 2019

What comes to mind when you think of metabolism? Is it this mysterious control panel in our body that determines whether we will be slim or not? Is it possible to change our metabolism — from being “slow” to “fast?” And what is it anyways?? Let’s discuss the definition of metabolism, symptoms of metabolic dysfunction, and 5 habits to break to boost your metabolism.

What is metabolism anyway?

Simply stated, metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert the protein, fat, and carbohydrates into the energy we need to function. Our basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy required for your body to carry out its basic functions when resting. Fortunately, the building of lean muscle mass increases BMR, resulting in more energy expenditure and weight loss.

Our metabolism impacts our health in several aspects, not just our weight, but also in our immune function, fertility, libido, muscle mass, brain function, and more. Factors that affect our metabolic rate include our age, genetics, gender, weight, movement, sleep quality, and diet. Though the speed at which we metabolize foods varies from person to person, a slow metabolism does not have to remain that way.

A well functioning thyroid is crucial to maintaining a healthy metabolism as it is the metabolic regulator of the body. An imbalanced thyroid may stimulate either too little thyroid hormones resulting in hypothyroidism, or too much, resulting in hyperthyroidism, significantly impacting body weight. Hypothyroidism lowers metabolism thus reducing calorie burn, leading to weight gain. Contrarily, hyperthyroidism raises the metabolism, increasing calorie burn and leading to weight loss. The liver plays a big role in glucose metabolism, providing our main source of energy. The liver also carries out processes to provide back up energy during periods of fasting or starvation.

So how do we know if our metabolism is running a little.. ahem… sluggish? And what habits do we need to drop in order to boost our metabolism?

Symptoms of Slow Metabolism

Symptoms of a sub-par metabolism are across the board since your metabolism involves your body’s ability to utilize the foods you eat. Common symptoms include difficulty losing weight, constipation, fatigue, frequent illness, low libido, irregular periods, dizziness, thinning hair, and skin problems.

Habits to Break to boost your metabolism

Not eating enough. 

Years of chronic dieting, skipping meals, can wreck our metabolism. Severe restriction from calories can put our body in to a starvation mode. While weight loss may be achieved initially, over time the body will adapt by increasing our appetite and decreasing our metabolism. Think about it, if your body doesn’t know when the next meal is coming, it will hold on to stored energy for reserves.

What to do instead:

  • Eat enough unprocessed whole foods, in proper balance for your body.
  • Breakfast is the hardest meal to eat for many people. Make your breakfast ahead of time by baking egg and vegetable muffin cups in the oven, batch cooking breakfast bake or a breakfast hash.

Lack of dietary fat

Chronic overconsumption of carbohydrates puts our body into a state where it relies on the constant input of glucose to use as fuel.  If we can shift our body to be a fat-burner, it can increase endurance, reduce brain fog, and help reset metabolism. Fats are a cofactor in building hormones too! Simply put, if you aren’t consuming fat, you aren’t going to be able to make happy and healthy hormones. Read more about how fats benefit your hormones here.

What to do instead: 

  • Boost healthy fats by adding chia seeds or hemp seeds to your granola or salad dressing.
  • Add a small spoonful of almond butter in your hot cereal.
  • Learn more about fats and cut the sugar in my RESTART program.

Consuming inflammatory foods

Processed foods, fried foods, sugar, vegetable oils – all these can contribute to internal inflammation and hijack the control panel to the body. This results in slow metabolism, making it difficult to shed the pounds.

What to do instead:

  • Choose anti-inflammatory foods to boost your metabolism:
    • Fatty fish
    • Green Leafy Vegetables
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Fruits 
    • Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil  

Lack of sleep

A study of 21,469 healthy adults self-reported their nightly sleep duration. Those that slept for less than 5 hours were more likely to gain weight compared to those that slept for 7 hours.  In another study, one night of sleep duration was significantly reduced in men and BMR was also significantly reduced. “Sleep deprivation can cause your body to produce too much insulin, which can lead to increased fat storage.” 

 At night, our body does repair-work, release growth hormone and melatonin.  That melatonin bath actually helps to detoxify our brain. Melatonin also mitigates the inflammatory effect of cortisol, our stress hormone. So get your sleep on.

 What to do instead:

  • The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults ages 26-64 to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Reduce your nightly screen time by leaving your device on the other side of your room one hour before bedtime.

Lack of movement or over-training.

Movement optimizes hormones and decreases inflammation. Moving your body more provides many health benefits including chronic disease prevention, healthy weight maintenance, and stress relief.  But too much of a good thing can bring problems. If you have a high stress job or in a high-stress season of life, getting too much movement through over exercising may actually cause weight retention.

What to do instead: 

  • Get the right amount of exercise.
    • 2.5-5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise
      • walking briskly or raking the yard
    • 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
      • running or taking a strenuous fitness class 

The takeaway

Boost your metabolism by avoiding meal skipping, eating anti-inflammatory foods, getting plenty of rest and sleep, and engaging in a balanced amount of physical activity.

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