According to the dictionary, metabolism is a chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that is necessary for the maintenance of life.
We all know people who can eat all day and not gain a single ounce or pound. These people have good — or fast — metabolisms. Then there are the people that have one unhealthy meal and have to run for a week straight to burn it all off. These are people that tend to have a slower metabolic rate.
One of the great things about the human body is that it burns calories all by itself when it is at rest. The rate in which this happens is determined by your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR for short. Healthy people with an active lifestyle tend to have better a better BMR than unhealthy people with a sedentary lifestyle, but that is just common sense.
However, just because you think you live an active lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean you will always have a faster metabolism or a good BMR. Some people can be predisposed to having a bad metabolism through genetics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to reverse the process.
Avoid these factors that slow your metabolism down and contribute to a bad BMR.
An inconsistent eating schedule Research suggests that those who eat at the same time, or close to the same time, on a daily basis are actually training their body to get on a schedule, which means that their bodies are burning more calories in between meals. A study conducted in 2012 by researchers at Hebrew University noticed that mice that were fed unhealthy foods on an inconsistent schedule gained more weight than mice that were fed the same foods at the same time every day.
Pesticides and toxins in produce. It turns out chemicals found in pesticides can throw off your body’s natural energy-burning process and make it harder to lose weight. Many store bought produce contain these pesticides and research has shown that those who ate a diet that contained these toxins experienced a decrease in metabolism and a harder time losing weight. Next time your at the grocery store steer you cart towards the organic fruits and veggies whenever possible.
Lack of sleep. The list of health risks associated with sleep deprivation is a long and scary one, and now we can add one more to it. People who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher chance at being less active the following day, which means they will burn less calories. However, according to research, a person who is lacking sleep will also burn fewer calories while they are at rest, which results in a lower BMR.
Having trouble sleeping? Read Restless Nights: 5 Easy, Practical Ways to Improve Your Sleep.
Your period (women). Iron is a key component in carrying oxygen to your muscles, which has a direct effect on energy and metabolism. When you are on your period, your body loses iron and therefore less oxygen is getting to your muscles resulting in lower energy levels. Be sure to fuel up on iron-rich foods such as red meats, egg yolk, greens, fruits, beans, and certain cereals.
Not eating enough. It is important to snack often and never miss a main meal. As stated before, getting your body in a proper eating schedule is critical for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Also, when you skip out on meals, your body puts itself into “starvation mode”, which slows your metabolic rate to conserve any of the energy it has. This is why people who try to lose weight by not eating don’t have very much success.
Need to snack better? Read Snacks That Fuel: Eating to Boost Energy Levels
Excessive sitting. Sitting down for long periods of time is one of the worst things you can do for your metabolism. After only 20 minutes of remaining still in one position, your metabolism can take a small hit. It’s even worse to think about what happens to those who sit down at work for eight to ten hours a day. (See article: Avoid the “Sitting Syndrome”: Great Ways to Stay Fit at Work or School)
Jet lag and weird sleep schedule. Everyone has an internal clock, which is your bodies way of timing and realizing patterns of certain behaviors that you do on a daily basis. This internal clock is in sync with your metabolism, so if you train your body to get into a certain schedule, your metabolism will be faster and more consistent. However, when you disrupt your internal clock — by crossing time zones or going to sleep at a different time every night — your body doesn’t function the way it is suppose to and your metabolism takes a hit.
Not drinking enough water. Water is a key element to the rate of your metabolism. According to research at the University of Utah, those who don’t get enough water burn up to 2% calories than those who do.
Skipping out on breakfast. Most people have heard eating breakfast is the best way to jumpstart your metabolism, and this statement couldn’t be any more true. Missing breakfast means your body will not have the energy it needs to start out the day, and this causes your body to preserve whatever energy it has and burn calories slower. Missing breakfast also means you will be more hungry come lunch time, resulting in eating too much in one sitting.