When we think of metabolism, we usually think of how it affects our ability to lose or gain weight. But it is important to understand that metabolism plays a far more important role than just weight regulation. Metabolism can be defined as the process by which a living organism performs actions to keep itself alive. In essence, every system in our body is affected by how efficient our metabolism is working. It is estimated that around 88% of Americans display some degree of metabolic dysfunction. If you think you could fall into that percentage, read ahead to find out some of the things you may be doing to cause harm to your metabolism.
Not Staying Hydrated
The human body is made up of 60% water, so it stands to reason that hydration is so vital for proper functioning. Water helps to flush out toxins, improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, and body temperature maintenance. It also assists with nutrient transportation which contributes to how many calories the body burns. This is where metabolism comes in.
When you become dehydrated, your metabolic rate will slow significantly. To negate the harmful effects of dehydration, make sure you are drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. If you struggle with water intake, you can try a combination of water and non-sugary beverages. Purchase a water bottle that you can carry with you throughout the day to make hitting your hydration goals easier.
Eating Too Little Protein
Some scientific research suggests that protein creates the most significant increase in the thermic effect of food or TEF. This is the energy your body burns when you are eating and digesting food. Your metabolic rate can increase by up to 30% when you eat a protein heavy meal. Carbs and fats on the other hand only increase your TEF by a maximum of 10% or 3% respectively.
The best way to increase your metabolism through protein intake is by having two to three protein packed meals a day with high protein snacks in between. This will help boost your metabolism better than if you were to eat three large meals with no snacks. Just be sure not to graze all day long as this can put you over your caloric needs for the day.
Constant and long-term patterns of heavy calorie restriction and skipped meals will make your body think it is in starvation mode. If your body doesn’t know when or where its next calorie source will be coming from, then it is more likely to hold onto the energy it already has stored. This is why long-term calorie restriction can actually make weight loss harder. This back-and-forth process causes metabolic damage that can sometimes take years to recover from.
If you are someone who has engaged in yo-yo dieting or excessive calorie restriction, then you need to find balance in your diet. Instead of being in a constant diet cycle, try to focus on maintaining a deficit of no more than 200 calories a day. The key to maintaining metabolic health with weight loss is to be slow and steady. Eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables and focus on proteins and healthy carbs. Also make an effort to include foods with the essential fatty acids such as pentadecanoic acid (C15:0). Leaving restrictions in the past will help improve your metabolism significantly.
Doing the Wrong Form of Exercise
Let’s first start by saying that any form of physical activity is good for metabolic health. It is recommended that individuals participate in at least three hours of moderate physical activity a week. But when it comes to metabolism, there is one form of exercise that is superior.
Strength training has been proven to boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you train. This is called the after-burn effect. It refers to the period of time when your muscles work to repair themselves after they have broken down from training. This is something that you will experience immediately when you start weight training. If you start to increase your muscle mass over time, then you will experience a further boost. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat so the more of it you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day.
High Stress Levels
When we experience stress, we also experience an increase in cortisol levels. Too much cortisol in the body can lead to blood sugar fluctuations and increased blood pressure and lipid levels. This then causes insulin resistance which will result in damage to your metabolic health.
Aside from being harmful to your metabolism, you can experience further damage if stress causes you to make poor choices when it comes to diet and exercise. Finding healthy ways to manage your stress is essential to preventing metabolic damage. Make sure you are taking steps to manage your stress levels on a daily basis for best results.