A well-functioning metabolism is a critical component for long-term weight loss. Your metabolism takes the calories you consume and converts them into energy. How well your body does this determines how fast you burn those calories, and a faster metabolism makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Unfortunately, people often have unhealthy habits that slow their metabolisms to a crawl. While genetics play a significant role, your lifestyle influences your metabolism in ways you may not realize. The following habits hamstring your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight:
- Skimping on your water. Your body uses water to remove toxins, maintain body temperature, digest food, and more. Your body burns through calories to perform these functions, but dehydration can derail how fast your body can function. Your body knows you need to conserve energy in a dehydrated state, so your metabolism slows down.
- Yo-Yo dieting. Fad diets, crash diets, and diet cleanses aren’t effective in the long term. People swear by them in the initial stages of the diet because they rapidly lose weight. However, most of this weight comes from water and lean muscle rather than body fat. These diets aren’t sustainable either, as most require an unrealistic and minuscule number of calories. Once your body recovers from the shock, the weight loss stops. Your body assumes you are starving and slows down your metabolism to hold onto calories for longer. Once you stop the diet, you’ll regain the weight once you resume your usual eating habits. Sometimes, you may gain back more than you lost because your metabolism is slower than before starting the diet.
- Not eating often enough. While it may seem counterintuitive, eating helps engage your metabolism. Your body burns through calories to help you absorb nutrients and digest food. However, the size of your meal doesn’t indicate how hard your body has to work to digest it. Eating smaller, more frequent meals forces your metabolism into gear more often throughout the day.
- Not eating the right food. You may think a calorie is a calorie, but your body reacts differently depending on the source. Protein is particularly effective at activating your metabolism, as your body has to burn more energy to digest it than it does for carbs and fats.
- Neglecting your sleep. Chronic sleep insufficiency has a full-body effect. It can wreak havoc on your hormones, cause systemic inflammation, and disrupt your metabolism. There is a strong correlation between insufficient sleep and obesity as well. One study found that we eat more when staying up late to replace the energy we aren’t getting by sleeping.
- Focusing solely on cardio. Cardio workouts are an excellent way to get your heart rate up and torch calories, but you may struggle to lose a significant amount of weight if you restrict yourself to the exercise bike. Part of the problem with cardio is that your body burns calories from all bodily tissue. While it does burn fat, it also chews through some of your muscle mass. Without adequate lean muscle, your resting metabolic rate languishes, which reduces how many calories you burn while at rest. Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat does as well. Your body burns ten calories per day for every pound of muscle you have. Fat pounds pale in comparison, as they only burn two calories per day per pound. Strength training also boosts your metabolism well beyond the duration of your workout. This afterburn effect is the result of your body burning calories to repair your sore muscles.
Even with positive lifestyle changes, you may still struggle to lose weight. Obesity can cause hormonal imbalances that fail to suppress your hunger or keep you feeling full. Contact us to discuss how bariatric surgery can help you achieve your weight loss goals.