If you’ve been feeling sluggish, tired, and are having trouble losing weight, then it may be time to take a look at your metabolism. Having a slow metabolism can leave you feeling exhausted, and make it difficult to lose weight. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a slow metabolism, as well as the mistakes that can lead to it. In this blog post, we’ll discuss six common mistakes that can slow down your metabolism and give you tips on how to avoid them.
1) Eating too few calories
One common mistake that can slow down your metabolism is eating too few calories. While it may seem logical to restrict calories to lose weight, drastically reducing your calorie intake can harm your metabolism.
When you consume too few calories, your body goes into survival mode. It recognizes that there is not enough fuel coming in, so it slows down your metabolism to conserve energy. This can lead to weight loss plateaus and difficulty in shedding those stubborn pounds.
In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who followed a very low-calorie diet for four weeks experienced a significant decrease in their resting metabolic rate (1). This decrease in metabolism made it harder for them to continue losing weight.
To avoid this metabolic slowdown, it’s important to fuel your body with enough calories to meet its needs. The general recommendation is to aim for a moderate calorie deficit of about 250-500 calories per day for healthy and sustainable weight loss.
Remember, your body needs a certain amount of energy to function properly and maintain a healthy metabolism. Restricting calories too much can do more harm than good. Focus on nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods and finding a balance that works for you.
2) Not getting enough protein
When it comes to maintaining a healthy metabolism, getting enough protein is essential. Protein plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including repairing and building tissues, supporting the immune system, and producing enzymes and hormones. Additionally, protein requires more energy to digest than fats or carbohydrates, which means that consuming protein can help increase your metabolic rate.
However, not getting enough protein in your diet can lead to a slow metabolism. According to research studies, a diet low in protein can decrease the rate at which your body burns calories, ultimately leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
Additionally, protein has been found to have a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) compared to fats and carbohydrates. TEF refers to the energy required to digest, absorb, and metabolize nutrients from food. Protein has a TEF of around 20-30%, meaning that about 20-30% of the calories from protein are burned during digestion. In contrast, fats have around 0-3% and carbohydrates have a TEF of around 5-10%. Therefore, by not getting enough protein, you may be missing out on the metabolic boost that protein digestion provides.
To ensure that you’re getting enough protein to support a healthy metabolism, aim to include protein-rich foods in each meal. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. If you struggle to meet your protein needs through diet alone, you may consider adding a protein supplement to your routine.
3) Skipping meals or fasting too often
Skipping meals or fasting too often can have a negative impact on your metabolism. While intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years for its potential weight loss benefits, overdoing it or engaging in extreme fasting practices can slow down your metabolism.
A study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that skipping breakfast can also have a negative effect on metabolism (2). Participants who skipped breakfast had a significantly lower resting metabolic rate compared to those who ate a balanced breakfast. This suggests that regularly skipping meals, especially the most important meal of the day, can lead to a decrease in overall calorie burn throughout the day.
Not only does skipping meals or fasting too often slow down your metabolism, but it can also lead to muscle loss. When you go for long periods without eating, your body starts to break down muscle tissue for energy. This can harm your metabolic rate, as muscle burns more calories at rest compared to fat.
In addition, when you restrict yourself from eating for an extended period, it can lead to feelings of extreme hunger and a loss of control around food. This can result in binge eating or choosing high-calorie, unhealthy foods, which can further slow down your metabolism and hinder weight loss efforts.
To keep your metabolism running smoothly, it’s important to eat regular, balanced meals and avoid extreme fasting practices. Aim for three meals and two snacks per day, incorporating lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. This will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and provide your body with the fuel it needs to function optimally.
4) Lack of sleep and chronic stress
Lack of sleep and chronic stress can both have a negative impact on your metabolism, making it harder for you to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with your metabolism. Chronic stress also increases cortisol levels, leading to the same effects on metabolism.
A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism found that chronic stress can lead to increased insulin resistance and decreased metabolism. (3)
To boost your metabolism and maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to prioritize getting enough sleep and managing chronic stress. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and practice stress-reducing techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to help reduce stress and improve sleep quality, leading to a healthier metabolism overall.
5) Not drinking enough water
Dehydration can be a significant obstacle to your metabolism and can slow it down. It is crucial to keep your body hydrated because it aids in the metabolism process by allowing your body to function at its best. Water makes up more than half of your body weight, and it is essential in nutrient transportation throughout the body.
Research has shown that drinking water can help increase metabolic rate, helping your body burn calories at a faster rate.
One study conducted on overweight adults found that drinking water increased their metabolic rate by up to 30%, lasting for about an hour (4). Another study found that drinking half a liter of water before meals helped individuals lose weight over time.
Additionally, water is also crucial in the digestion process. Drinking enough water aids in the absorption of nutrients, which helps your body convert food into energy more efficiently. When your body is dehydrated, your metabolism slows down, making it more challenging to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
To ensure you are adequately hydrated, aim to drink at least 8-10 cups of water each day. If you struggle to consume enough water, try adding fruits or vegetables to your water to give it a refreshing flavor. Avoid consuming drinks like soda and other sugary beverages that dehydrate the body and slow down your metabolism. By staying hydrated, you can keep your metabolism running efficiently and promote healthy weight management.
6) Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise
One of the biggest mistakes that can slow down your metabolism is living a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough exercise. In today’s technology-driven world, it’s all too easy to spend the majority of our days sitting at a desk or lounging on the couch. However, this lack of physical activity can have a detrimental effect on our metabolism.
When we lead a sedentary lifestyle, our muscles become weak and lose their ability to burn calories efficiently. According to a 2020 study published in the International journal of environmental research and public health, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a decrease in muscle mass, which can result in a decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR) – the number of calories your body burns at rest. The study found that the risk of muscle loss is as high as 13% in those who exhibit up to 4 hours of sedentary behavior a day. (5)
Additionally, exercise has been shown to have a long-lasting effect on metabolism. According to a study published in the Journals of Gerontology, engaging in moderate-intensity exercise can increase metabolism for up to 48 hours after the workout. (6) This means that even after you finish exercising, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate.
To combat a sedentary lifestyle and boost your metabolism, it’s important to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, each week, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, incorporating strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, can help build and maintain muscle mass, further boosting your metabolism.
In conclusion, it’s important to understand that your metabolism can slow down at various points in life, but it’s never too late to make positive changes. By avoiding these six mistakes, you can keep your metabolism running smoothly and efficiently. Remember to fuel your body with enough calories and protein, prioritize regular meals, get plenty of sleep, manage stress levels, stay hydrated, and incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Small changes can make a big difference in revving up your metabolism and helping you reach your health and wellness goals. So don’t wait until your metabolism slows down; start making these changes today!
- J E Donnelly and others, Effects of a very-low-calorie diet and physical-training regimens on body composition and resting metabolic rate in obese females, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 54, Issue 1, July 1991, Pages 56–61, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/54.1.56
- Alessa Nas and others, Impact of breakfast skipping compared with dinner skipping on regulation of energy balance and metabolic risk, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 6, June 2017, Pages 1351–1361, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.151332
- Xiao, Y., Liu, D., Cline, M.A. et al. Chronic stress, epigenetics, and adipose tissue metabolism in the obese state. Nutr Metab (Lond) 17, 88 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-020-00513-4
- Vij VA, Joshi AS. Effect of ‘water induced thermogenesis’ on body weight, body mass index and body composition of overweight subjects. J Clin Diagn Res. 2013 Sep;7(9):1894-6. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2013/5862.3344. Epub 2013 Sep 10. PMID: 24179891; PMCID: PMC3809630.
- Smith, Lee et al. “The Association Between Sedentary Behavior and Sarcopenia Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 17,5 1708. 5 Mar. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijerph17051708
- Williamson, D L, and J P Kirwan. “A single bout of concentric resistance exercise increases basal metabolic rate 48 hours after exercise in healthy 59-77-year-old men.” The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences vol. 52,6 (1997): M352-5. doi:10.1093/gerona/52a.6.m352