Exercise and eating right aren’t the only two things that will help you blast fat. Your body’s metabolism—or its ability to burn calories and convert them to energy—also plays a major role in weight loss. The more efficient your metabolism is, the easier it will be for you to lose weight. And if the scale isn’t tipping in your favor despite all your hard work, your metabolism might be on the slower side.
Before you can boost your metabolism, you have to identify the daily habits you’re undertaking that are likely to blame for slowing it down. Below, find out which metabolism-sabotaging mistakes you’re making and a few of our best tips to reverse the damage. Rid yourself of these mistakes, and to really keep yourself on track, try these Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
While, yes, the only way to drop weight is by burning fewer calories than you consume, but that doesn’t mean you should be depriving your body of food.
Eat This! Tip: You don’t have to cut calories like crazy. Just check out our exclusive report: 30 Ways to Eat More But Weigh Less.
It’s time to find another way to relax and unwind after a stressful day at work. While drinking in moderation every so often won’t do too much harm to your waistline, making it a habit can slow down your metabolic rate. Why?
“When a person drinks, acetaldehyde (a highly toxic substance) is formed,” says Los Angeles-based nutritionist Seth Santoro, CHHC. “The body spends time trying to detoxify itself rather than burn calories.” Researchers have found that boozing can decrease the body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73%! Even worse, Santoro adds that drinking alcohol can impair protein synthesis and anabolic (muscle-building) hormones, which can stifle your tone-up goals.
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. That means muscle not only makes you look toned, but it also helps you burn more calories—whether you’re working out or just lounging around watching a movie. While you’ll have to do resistance training to build muscle to begin with, if you don’t pair your gym time with consumption of enough protein, your body won’t be able to build muscle mass.
Eat This! Tip: Protein needs differ by individual, but consuming 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight each day is typically sufficient to fuel weight loss, says Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN, a New York City-based Dietitian. For a 130-pound (58 kilogram) person, that would equal between 46 and 58 grams of protein per day. Looking for ways to eat more of the muscle-building macro? Check out these 25 Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake.
Even if you’re eating right and working out, being chronically sleep-deprived may be the reason your metabolism is slowing down. “A lack of sleep can cause several metabolic problems,” says Santoro. “It can cause you to burn fewer calories, lack appetite control and experience an increase in cortisol levels, a hormone which stores fat.”
Eat This! Tip: If you’re looking to get into a better sleep routine, look no further than The Sleep Diet: 7 Habits of Highly-Rested People.
Our desk jobs are making us fat—and it’s not just because of those office cupcakes. When you sit all day at work, your body isn’t engaging or using your muscles as much as it would be if your were walking around. Because we aren’t using our bodies, we begin to lose muscle mass and our resting metabolism slows.
Eat This! Tip: You don’t have to give your two weeks’ notice to rev up your metabolism. Simply getting up from your chair and taking a two-minute walk once every hour can do the trick, says Albert R. Matheny IV, RD, CSCS, Co-Founder of SoHo Strength Lab. He sites a recent study which found these short bursts of walking helped to maintain stable insulin levels, which means your body will be able to use calories for energy rather than just store them as fat. Set your phone alarm to go off once every hour so you don’t forget to take a break.
Water is delicious on its own, but if you’re only drinking it plain, you could be missing out on some serious metabolism-boosting benefits. To get even more bang for your hydrating buck, warm up your water and steep a green tea bag in it. Researchers find that this leaf is particularly efficient at blasting flab thanks to its concentration of catechins: a group of antioxidative compounds that fry adipose tissue by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of flab from fat cells, then speeding up the liver’s fat-burning capacity.
Whether it’s due to a traffic jam, your kids’ overlapping sports schedules, or a huge project due at work, stress can be a huge weight on your shoulders—as well as the reason you’ve packed a huge amount of weight onto your hips. According to research published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, stress can make the body metabolize food more slowly and can cause sleep disturbances. (And as we mentioned above, when you don’t sleep well, your metabolism suffers.)