If Your Diet Plan has Stalled and You’re Still Overweight, Here’s Why
by Kelly R. Smith
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This article was updated on 01/01/21.
It is no secret that your metabolism and the state of your weight are closely intertwined. Your metabolism, paradoxically the opposite of your perception of the passage of time, naturally slows as you age; the Public Health Nutrition Journal confirms this. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is weight loss, you should be aware that some bad habits may be preventing you from reaching your goal. Consider the following unhealthy habits.
Avoid these Habits to Boost Metabolism and Energy
- Skipping Your Breakfast Meal. Your metabolism slows as you sleep but eating will fire it back up and allow you to burn more calories throughout the day. If you miss breakfast your body gets the message that it should conserve rather than burn any incoming calories. Of course, if you are practicing intermittent fasting for weight loss, you might have to modify this tip.
- Consuming the Wrong Breakfast Food. A sugary doughnut or muffin will set you up for that dreaded sugar crash later. A better strategy is to choose food with filling protein and fiber. Try eggs, ham and onion quiche, yogurt, and berries, or whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter.
- Too Much Sitting. Butt-time is not your weight loss friend. If you go from your office chair straight to your car and then to your couch you are developing a very comfortable albeit very sedentary routine. Why? Sitting for long time periods locks your body into the energy-conservation mode, resulting in your metabolism slowing down. It’s best to get up periodically and get the blood flowing. If you tend to get absorbed in your task, you might need a reminder. For example, my Garmin GPS sports watch reminds me when I need to move. The UK’s National Health Service says, “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat.”
- Avoiding Strength Training. Cardio such as running is great, and it can quickly burn many calories, but once you’re done running or cycling, your calorie burn begins to decelerate. When you do HIIT and resistance-based workouts, however, your calorie burn stays elevated for longer as your muscles repair themselves. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says, “Strength training is a key component of metabolism because it is directly linked to muscle mass. The more active muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate.” As a bonus, a pound of muscle burns an additional 4–6 calories each day compared to a pound of fat. Keep in mind that this is where your bathroom scale can mislead you. Putting on muscle mass can make it look like your weight isn’t changing much but you are in fact losing fat. Trust how your clothes fit more than the numbers. If you really want to know what is going on, invest in a digital scale that measures your body fat percentage.
- Shorting Yourself on Protein. Protein literally is food for your muscles. It also promotes the feeling of being full and it is an important component of attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. If you consume too little of it you may have trouble building or maintaining muscle mass. In addition, protein needs more energy to break down than carbs or fat, so you’ll actually burn more calories during digestion. Win-win.
- Shorting Yourself on Sleep. Just one single bad night’s sleep is enough to leave you feeling lethargic (almost as much as some high blood pressure medication) and impair your thinking process. Compounding several nights in a row or a lifetime of chronic insomnia can be a disaster; the International Journal of Endocrinology tells us that decreased metabolism and hormonal imbalances can result.
- Being Dehydrated. In yet another study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers determined that consuming 500 milliliters of water (about 2 cups) boosts your metabolic rate by an impressive 30%, and that boost lasts for more than an hour. The takeaway is to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and you’ll get the added benefit of a boosted metabolism.
- Being Stressed Out. When your stress levels rise, your body produces a hormone called cortisol which triggers increased appetite, leaves you craving comfort foods, reduces your desire to work out, and lowers sleep quality. All four of these things negatively impact your metabolic rate. Since it is unrealistic to think that you can always control your stress levels, using methods to manage stress can go a long way toward regulating your body’s internal fire.
Hopefully this information has helped you to address the habits that can sabotage your weight-loss resolution. If so, share the knowledge and pass the link on to your friends. Getting back in shape is always easier with your support group.
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.