Metabolism is the chemical process that converts the food you consume into energy. The faster your metabolism is, the more calories your body will burn. Having a high metabolism is correlated to a better ability to lose weight and keep weight off.
There are several factors that contribute to the rate at which your body burns calories for fuel, including your gender, age, body composition and genetics. Unfortunately, some of these factors are out of your control, yet, there are other habits negatively impacting your metabolism and may be making it harder for you to lose weight.
7 Habits Negatively Impacting Your Metabolism
A healthy and nutrient-dense diet significantly impacts your metabolism. After bariatric surgery, you are more susceptible to vitamin deficiencies due to the anatomical changes that occur. Therefore, we highly encourage you to take a bariatric multivitamin along with eating a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet. Studies have found that by taking a multivitamin, you prevent metabolic syndrome and contribute to a healthy metabolic rate.
Our bodies are made up of 60% water; therefore, water is vital for proper bodily function. Water aids in flushing out toxins and other bodily functions such as digestion, absorption, body temperature maintenance, and nutrient transportation, which helps the body burn more calories.
When you are dehydrated, your metabolic rate slows. So, be sure you are drinking at least 64 ounces of sugar-free beverages (preferably water) a day.
For bariatric patients, be sure you wait 30 minutes after a meal to drink your liquids. As mentioned above, water aids (speeds up) in the transport of nutrients and the digestion process and with quicker digestion, you are likely to become hungry sooner and not absorb the nutrients you need for optimal health.
3. Fad Dieting
Constantly being on a diet, where you are significantly restricting your caloric intake, tricks your body into thinking it is in starvation mode. When your energy reservoirs feel threatened, your metabolism will slow to conserve that energy.
During period of strict dieting and caloric restriction, your body is working to maintain the energy balance so you can survive. So fad diets aren’t doing anything for you besides ruining your metabolism and likely resulting in you gaining back all your weight when you return to your normal eating habits.
Instead of living a constant diet cycle, focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet that is rich in protein and non-starchy vegetables.
4. Not Eating Enough (Protein)
Eating revs up your metabolism as your body burns energy to absorb and digest the food. Yet, contrary to what you might believe, eating three large meals throughout the day will not lead to more energy burn because your body has to “work harder” to digest more food. In fact, the best way to boost your metabolism is to eat throughout the day (but beware of grazing!).
For bariatric patients, it is recommended they eat three moderate-sized meals a day with two protein-packed snacks. You should still be aware of your macro breakdown and calorie intake. You want to focus your meals and snacks on protein, which not only keeps you full but also revs up your metabolism.
According to scientific research, protein has the most significant increase in the thermic effect of food (TEF), the energy your body burns when you are eating and digesting food. When you eat protein, your metabolic rate is increases by 10 to 30%, unlike carbs which only increase your metabolic rate by 5 to 10%, and fats which increase your metabolism by 0 to 3%.
It is recommended that bariatric patients consume 60 to 100 grams of protein a day based on their lifestyle and goals.
5. Not Strength Training
Although most fitness influencers are dispelling the myth, some people (women in particular) still believe that if you lift heavy weights you will look too “manly”. Yet, this is far from the truth. More muscle mass leads to a higher metabolism because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. When your body is at rest, you are still burning calories—this is called your resting or basal metabolic rate.
Studies have found that you burn around ten calories a day for every pound of muscle, while one pound of fat only burns two calories a day.
Similarly, it is proven that weight training can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after your training session, aka the afterburn effect. The after-burn effect results from your muscles trying to repair themselves after they have been broken down.
6. Poor Sleep Habits
Sleep is connected to many hormonal and metabolic processes and is essential in maintaining metabolic balance. When you do not get enough sleep, it can throw off your hormones, lead to inflammation, and also cause dysregulation of your metabolism.
A lack of sleep has also been linked to obesity, increased blood sugar levels, and a higher risk of diabetes. When we sleep, our bodies repair themselves mentally and physically. Therefore, sleep deprivation results in a decreased quality of health. To optimize your health, be sure you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
7. High Levels of Stress and Anxiety
Stress causes the body to produce more cortisol and can affect your hormone levels. Cortisol helps your body make glucose (sugar) from proteins, but excess cortisol can lead to glucose dysregulation.
Researchers have found that elevated cortisol levels lead to stress eating and overeating in many cases. As mentioned above, diets (including periods of overeating/binge eating) can throw off your metabolism.
Similarly, stress negatively impacts sleep quality, which we know can affect your metabolism. Therefore, we recommend you begin practicing stress-relieving activities, engaging in regular exercise, and speaking to a therapist (if needed) to reduce your stress.
Although metabolism does play a role in your weight, the primary factor, aside from genetics, that impacts your weight and weight loss goals is the quantity and quality of the food you are eating. Therefore if you are looking to lose weight, we recommend you not only change your habits that ruin your metabolism but also change up your eating habits. Make an appointment with a bariatric professional today to jumpstart your new lifestyle!