Have you ever wondered what metabolism is and how it affects weight loss?
Metabolism is the process your body uses to create energy from the food you eat. When you have a high metabolism, it means your body burns more calories, even when you’re at rest. This makes losing weight easier, because your body is constantly burning calories.
However, there are times when we seemingly always eat healthy and go to the gym, yet we can’t lose weight!
Does that sound like you? It was me for a long time!
So what’s going on? Chances are your metabolism is to blame!
There are several things you can do to boost your metabolism to help promote weight loss.
Keep reading to learn more!
What is Metabolism Exactly?
According to Harvard Health Publishing,
Metabolism is the internal process by which your body expends energy and burns calories.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. The cells in your body use oxygen to break down food molecules into smaller units that can be used to power the cell. Metabolism also includes all of the chemical reactions in the body that maintain life, such as digesting food and repairing tissues.
Even if you are lying very still, the body requires an energy source to keep all its involuntary functions going. Every process in the body, including thinking, will burn calories. It is a small cost but in biological terms, it counts. This is particularly true during sleep, when the body is making all of the repairs and replacing cells that have become too damaged or weak to go on. During these rest periods, the food or fat your body has collected is converted into its most basic parts to be used to nourish the body and build new cells.
Metabolic rate is the rate at which the body burns calories at rest. You may have seen it referred to as Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). There are several factors that play a major role in dictating how many calories it will take to keep body functions moving and make it possible for you to repair cells.
- Age, as people get older metabolism tends to slow down
- Muscle mass, 1 pound of muscle burns more calories than 1 pound of fat
- Sex, men tend to have a higher metabolism than women
- Activity level, sedentary people will not have as high a metabolism as a person who regularly exercises
- Overall size, a larger person will burn more calories because larger bodies require more energy
Metabolic rates vary from person to person, because genetics and hormones play an important role. However, as a general rule of thumb, women’s average BMR is 1400 calories a day, and men’s BMR is about 1600.
5 Signs You Have a Slow Metabolism
People can have a slow, fast, or normal metabolism and many factors can influence the speed of our metabolism. Slow metabolism means that our body cannot properly burn all the calories, which leads to the storage of calories in the form of fat.
The following signs are an indicator of a slow metabolism:
Unexplained Weight Gain
If you suddenly gain weight even after taking precautions, such as eating a balanced diet and getting proper exercise, it might be connected to your metabolism. Unexplained sudden weight gain is the most common sign of slow metabolism and is often connected with the lack of thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism effectively decreases the BMR of the body resulting in a reduction in the overall metabolic activity of the body.
There are many other factors that determine BMR however. Unexplained weight gain can also be due to stress, which affects metabolism.
Fatigue, or lack of energy or tiredness, is normally associated with a slow metabolism. When the human body is tired more frequently than normal, the body breaks down the energy-containing molecules at a slower rate, and an adequate amount of energy is not provided to the body. The slower the metabolic rate, the more fatigue one experiences.
The first step in trying to fix fatigue is to look at how much sleep you’re getting.
Hair Loss, Brittle Nails, and/or Dry Skin
Slow metabolism means that your cells are not burning calories as quickly as they should and more calories are being stored as fat. Due to slower metabolism, the body does not supply enough nutrient-dense blood to the rest of the organs which can result in hair loss, lack of luster in the skin, and uneven and brittle nails. You body will care more about vital functions over healthy hair.
Due to slow metabolism, the human body also does not sweat as much, leaving the skin feeling dry and dehydrated. Nails are rough and brittle due to a lack of absorption of nutrients and hair is deprived of essential micronutrients vital for growth and regeneration.
Being Colder Than Normal
A normal body temperature is essential for the body to carry out its biological and physical activities. Heat is provided to the body by metabolism, but if your body is cold more frequently than normal, it might be because of a slower metabolic rate. An underactive thyroid (or hypothyroidism) is also associated with slow metabolism as hypothyroidism causes a decrease in metabolic activity, hence low body temperature.
Constantly Craving Carbs and Sugar
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which regulates how the body uses and stores glucose and fat. It regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body. When cells in our body don’t respond well to insulin, insulin resistance occurs.
Insulin resistance causes slow metabolism and stresses the pancreas into producing even MORE insulin. This phenomenon leads to a constant craving for carbohydrates and sugar-packed products, simply because the cells can‘t get the necessary glucose they need.
Insulin resistance is a vicious cycle. The fact that cells can’t get the necessary glucose causes the body to produce more insulin and it also leads to increased sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
3 Reasons Your Metabolism Could be Slowing Down
Maintaining a stable metabolism is extremely important in weight loss and for one’s overall health. Some medical conditions and lifestyle habits prominently play a role in slowing down our metabolic rate, leading to many health problems.
Here are reasons your metabolism may be slowing down:
Lack of Physical Activity
Lack of physical activity and leading a sedentary lifestyle are common causes of a slow metabolism. An adequate amount of physical activity helps burn calories, and when there is not enough activity, this process slows down, thereby decreasing the metabolic rate.
The absence of daily life activities such as walking, climbing up the stairs, or standing also slows down the metabolism. These activities are termed non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Inactivity eventually leads to a slow metabolism.
Incorporate some daily walking into your routine. Even walking 10 minutes a day, can significantly increase metabolism!
Sleeping too Little
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy mind and healthy body. When you lack enough sleep, it can lead to many mental and physical conditions such as depression, stress, diabetes, and many other disorders.
A study conducted on healthy individuals showed a significantly slower metabolism after sleep restriction. A good night’s sleep can improve the metabolic rate of the human body.
Decreasing Calorie Consumption too Low
If you are a grown woman, you should NOT be eating 1200 calories a day. That is too low!
Not eating enough calories can significantly decrease your metabolism rate. When there is a lower calorie intake, our body senses that and significantly lowers the metabolic rate to conserve the food resources in the body.
In most studies, calories burned during rest state are measured, termed resting metabolic rate (RMR). A study conducted on obese women showed that when a low-calorie diet is given to them for some time, their resting metabolic rate is significantly lowered. Although a decrease in calories is necessary for weight loss, cutting back too low affects your overall metabolism.
5 Ways to Boost Metabolism
Our metabolic rate depends on age, gender, genetics, muscle mass, and physical activity level. As we cannot control or change the genetic makeup of our metabolic system, we can surely boost our metabolism by using the following ways:
High Protein Food Intake
Foods rich in proteins can boost your metabolism. As compared to carbohydrates and fats, protein increases the metabolism up to 25%.
High protein intake prevents the reduction in muscle loss by boosting up our metabolism. Muscle loss is commonly associated with dieting. When the body is provided with foods rich in proteins, the metabolic reactions pick up the pace and produce a sufficient amount of energy for the body.
Increase in Physical Activity
Leading a sedentary life affects our normal biological functions and leads to many health problems. This is because our metabolism is slowed down due to the lack of physical activity, and calories are not burned properly.
An increase in our metabolic rate can be observed by making physical activity a part of our daily life. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can give outbursts of energy as it increases the metabolic rate and burns more fats. Strength training can also help boost your metabolic rate as well as build up your muscle strength. After strength training, the metabolic rate becomes considerably higher, and more calories are burned.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Disorders associated with sleep deprivation are prevailing rapidly in our society and can lead to many physical and mental problems. One of the major biological systems affected by lack of sleep is metabolism.
Sleep deprivation causes dysregulation in metabolism as the body is forced to obtain food at irregular intervals.
Sleep also plays an essential role in glucose metabolism. Studies show that partial sleep deprivation may increase the risk of type-II diabetes. Cortisol and growth hormones are involved in the regulation of glucose metabolism. After only one night of sleep deprivation, cortisol levels increase, and glucose dysregulation occurs. So, getting a good night’s sleep may improve your metabolic rate significantly.
Consumption of Green Tea and Caffeine
Green tea is considered to be one of the crucial factors in improving our metabolism. It naturally contains catechins and caffeine. Studies show that green tea helps in the burning of fats. In a study conducted on healthy men, green tea extract was given after some exercise which helped increase the metabolic rate and enhanced the oxidation of fats up to 17%.
Caffeine consumption can also increase metabolic rate by 3-4% and increase the energy expenditure by 8-11%, as shown in a study.
Drinking green tea can also be helpful in weight maintenance and weight loss as they boost up our metabolism considerably.
Consumption of Water
Water is considered an essential factor in maintaining and losing weight as it reduces your calorie intake and fills you up more.
Studies show that water consumption can also speed up your metabolic rate. After drinking 16 ounces of water, the metabolic rate increases by 30% in individuals.
You Have the Power to Reverse Your Slow Metabolism
Great news! You can take action to increase your slow metabolism with many of the action steps already mentioned in this report. Remember that these suggestions are lifestyle changes; they are NOT temporary fixes that get discarded when you reach your goal.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, get your thyroid levels tested. In many cases, patients are diagnosed with hypothyroidism without realizing they had symptoms. For those with severe symptoms, regulating the thyroid with medication can turn their lives around tremendously. Others may not feel any different once they’re on medication but it’s still wise to continue the meds as the thyroid affects so many different bodily functions. Take comfort in knowing your body is functioning more effectively, even if you don’t feel any physical changes.
As with anything, the more action you take to change your lifestyle, the better results you will see. Nobody will hand you a magic wand to lose weight or increase your metabolism. Only you hold the power to make these changes. If you’re intimidated by making multiple changes at once, focus on one new change until it becomes a strong habit.
No more excuses! If your biggest obstacle is finding time to exercise, try choosing an activity the whole family can enjoy. Use your own bodyweight to do pushups, crunches, squats, etc. Or wake up before your family to fit in some exercise before everyone’s day begins. As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”