Avoid these everyday habits that can slow your metabolism and lead to weight gain.
Did you know that your daily habits may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts by slowing down your metabolism? Avoid these things to boost your fat burning potential.
1. You sleep to little
A lack of sleep has a direct impact on our endocrine system. If we don’t get enough sleep we produce more cortisol, which increases fat storage and influences where that fat is stored. Another hormone that is affected is ghrelin, which regulates hunger. Leptin levels, on the other hand, decrease, and this hormone is needed to suppress our appetites and moderate our body’s energy balance. As a result we tend to eat more and store more fat when we’re sleep deprived. Studies show that as little as a week of poor sleep quality or some degree of sleep deprivation can result in weight gain.
Cutting calories is one of the main methods used to lose weight, but there’s a fine line between creating a negative calorie balance and starving your body. A severe calorie-restricted diet forces the body into ‘survival mode’ as the body requires a certain number of calories to maintain basic biological functions. This is made worse when a dieter exercises intensely.
In ‘survival mode’ your metabolism slows down and your body will store fat as it tries to conserve as much energy as possible.
On that note, don’t skip meals either- especially breakfast. The mad rush every morning can leave little or no time to eat. However, skipping meals deprives your body of much needed calories for the day. During the night, our bodies are in a fasted state, for eight hours or more. This creates catabolic or muscle breakdown. So, eating breakfast prevents your body from entering that ‘survival mode’ explained previously. Therefore, to keep your metabolism high and functioning properly it’s important that you never skip a meal, especially breakfast.
3. You’re dehydrated
Your hydration levels directly affect your metabolism as your body needs water for important metabolic processes to occur. Therefore, your metabolism slows down when you’re in a dehydrated state. A lack of water also severely limits your metabolic engine – your muscles – from metabolising energy substrates, including fat. We also often confuse hunger with thirst. So, we tend to eat instead of drink, which can lead to weight gain. Ideally you should drink 8–10 glasses of water a day. One before each meal can make you less likely to overeat.
4. Eating refined carbs
Ditching refined carbs will help to down-regulate insulin production, the main hormone that governs your body’s fat storing response. Choosing more natural sources like fruits and vegetables also increases your fibre intake, which can enhance your body’s fat burning abilities. Research has found that when we consume fibre it pushes our body’s fat fighting abilities up by 30%. The same study also found that women who ate the most fibre gained the least amount of weight. Try to consume 25g of fibre a day.
Women should aim to consume 1.2-1.8g per kilogram per day. And don’t worry you won’t pick up too much muscle. Trainer and eating plan consultant, Tracy Simpson, recommends eating Greek yoghurt (about 18g of protein per 170g serving) or an egg (13g of protein per serving) for breakfast. Eat a serving of lean poultry (25g of protein per serving) or fish (22g of protein per serving) for lunch and dinner. You could also try including some black beans (15g or protein per serving) to your meals.
6. Sitting at your desk the whole day
The majority of us have desk jobs, which requires that we sit for most of the day. We then climb into a car and sit in traffic for a few more hours, and then plop ourselves on the couch when we get home. This inactivity is detrimental to our metabolisms as it reduces the amount of energy we burn each day to perform our basic daily tasks. Being constantly on the move (or at least doing something every hour on the hour) will keep your metabolism revved up. Throw some intense exercise into the mix and you have a great way to stoke your metabolic furnace and boost the number of calories you burn each day.
Most beginner gym users go straight to the treadmill and stationary bike every time they enter the gym. While aerobic exercise is the most effective at burning calories on a per-unit-time basis, it also has the potential to destroy muscle – the most metabolically active tissue in our bodies. In order to maintain muscle, add sessions of weight or resistance training to your regime. It increases your basal metabolic rate. This is the basic energy requirements your body needs to meet your basic physiological demands. You can also boost your metabolism even further with sprinting and high intensity interval training or Tabata training, as it creates the largest metabolic disturbance. This means your body will work longer and harder to recover after a tough session, thus burning more calories during the process.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.