By: Matt Weik
When it comes to weight loss, the last thing you want to happen is having your metabolic rate slow down or come to a screeching halt. You want to keep it revving – turning your body into a fat-burning machine. Unfortunately, there are several habits you could be doing right now that are hurting your metabolic rate.
Here are seven habits you want to be aware of that can be detrimental to your metabolic rate and fat loss success as well as what you can do to help prevent or fix them.
The worst thing you can do for your body and your metabolic rate is stop moving. We are incredibly sedentary these days thanks to technology and it is one of the reasons we are facing an obesity epidemic in the United States. You should make a conscious effort to get up and move throughout the day.
I must give credit to Apple for making that feature as part of their Apple Watch. If you are sitting for too long, it will notify you and tell you to get up and move. We need to apply that very feature to our lives even if you don’t own the Apple Watch.
Rather than emailing the employee down the hall from you, get up and go to their office to ask the question. Rather than calling someone in your building, walk to their cubicle and discuss the topic with them. If you’re sitting too long, get up and stretch so you can get proper blood flow throughout your body. Anything and everything you can do to move more would be ideal. This includes taking the stairs rather than the elevator or parking far away and walking into stores instead of parking in the closest spot.
Simply put… MOVE MORE. Moving helps keep your metabolism revving and your body burning calories.
If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, it can throw off your hormones which can also affect your metabolic rate. If you only get around five hours of sleep a night, your metabolic rate could actually drop by about 3%. Additionally, when you don’t get enough sleep, it increases ghrelin levels in the body. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone. As you would expect, a rise in ghrelin will ultimately cause you to feel hungry and can cause you to overeat.
You should be striving for a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. In doing so, you can better manage your stress (which we will touch on next), your hormones, and your metabolic rate. Not to mention, a good night’s sleep will help you wake up feeling refreshed and energized. The more energy you have, the more willing and able you are to expend energy throughout the day as well as push yourself in the gym.
For many of us, stress is a real issue. Stress can come from work, home life, even our workouts cause stress to our body. A side effect of stress is cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone and is what causes an increase in appetite. When this happens, we tend to over-consume at meals, putting us in a caloric surplus for the day. When this happens consistently, it can cause you to gain weight.
Stress can also cause our digestive tract to slow down. While you may not think this is a bad thing, it actually causes the metabolic rate to decrease since the body isn’t metabolizing calories as quickly.
Have you ever heard of the thermic effect of food? How about the importance of building and maintaining quality lean muscle mass? Both require sufficient amounts of protein for them to take place. Let’s look at both instances.
The thermic effect of food can help increase your metabolic rate. When we eat, our body needs to break down the food into a usable form. For this to take place, the body needs to create energy in order to effectively break down the food. Protein, out of all the macronutrients (which include carbohydrates and fat), has the highest thermic effect. For that reason, you should make sure you are consuming protein in all your meals.
When it comes to muscle mass, your body needs protein so it can be broken down into amino acids. Amino acids can then be shuttled to the muscles to help them recover and grow from workouts. The more muscle mass you have on your frame, the higher your metabolic rate can be. This is due to muscle needing energy to function and perform optimally. Therefore, you need to make sure you are taking in at least 0.7g of protein per pound of your body weight.
This section ties in nicely with protein – which I spoke about above. Lifting weights and engaging in resistance training helps tear down muscle fibers so they can be rebuilt through proper rest/recovery (sleep) and nutrition (adequate protein intake). As mentioned above, the more muscle mass you have on your frame, the greater your metabolic rate can be.
Try to fit in a minimum of two days each week that you dedicate to resistance training. Each of those days you should be focusing on full-body workouts. If you decide to train more days during the week, you can change up your routine and focus on specific areas of the body during each workout rather than engaging in full-body workouts.
A habit I repeatedly see is when individuals decide to drastically lower their caloric intake each day. They believe in doing so, that they will be able to lose weight faster. While it’s true that being a caloric deficit will help you lose weight, going too low can have a negative effect and actually slow down your metabolic rate. This happens because our body, when faced with a severe drop of calories, believes you are starving and will actually slow down your metabolic rate so you do not burn as many calories. At this point, it is in survival mode and wants to hang onto every calorie you feed it for self-preservation.
What you want to do is figure out your maintenance calories (the number where you neither lose or gain weight) and from that number, decrease your caloric intake by 250-500 calories per day in order to lose weight.
Our body is made up of primarily water. Therefore, it’s vital to be drinking water throughout the day. And if you exercise regularly, it’s even more important as you risk becoming dehydrated if you aren’t replenishing the fluids you sweat out. When we aren’t drinking enough water, our metabolic rate decreases because every cell in our body needs to be properly hydrated and without adequate water, they aren’t able to function properly.
In order to maintain and even boost your metabolic rate, you want to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. You can also boost your metabolic rate if you consume cold water as the body needs to heat it up and transport it throughout your body. A great strategy you can utilize is to fill up a water bottle with ice and water and carry it around with you all day so you can sip from it. Once it’s empty, fill it back up and repeat.
Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured all over the globe as well as having published numerous books. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Find out more at www.weikfitness.com or on social media @weikfitness.