Everybody these days seems to blame weight gain or the inability to maintain a healthy weight after following a diet on low metabolism. Is this always the case? Sometimes low metabolism is to blame.
Going on a diet can slow your metabolism down, making it more difficult to lose weight as time passes by. Your metabolism also slows down with age, so that doing the same activities you did just five years ago, will burn fewer calories?
Understanding your metabolism
Metabolism is the process by which the body uses the food you eat and converts it into energy. In simple terms, your metabolism represents the rate at which you burn calories. You burn calories every day by walking, running, eating, sleeping – even just sitting at your desk and breathing! However, not all metabolisms are created equal. Some people are blessed with a high metabolic rate and others have to work at it.
If you have to work for your skinny jeans – here are some sure-fire ways to help:
- Vary your exercise routine: You know that cardiovascular/aerobic exercise like walking, jogging and dancing burns calories, but adding just a little light resistance or weight training can help you become fitter faster. In addition to increasing your muscle mass and reducing excess fat, your new muscles will burn more calories than your fat did while you are exercising, and afterwards while you are resting! So: the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, and the higher your metabolism will be!
- Eat more often: Instead of having three large meals, aim to reduce your portions a bit and distribute your daily caloric intake over five or six small, healthy meals. Very low calorie diets actually slow your metabolism down, causing your body to hold on to its food reserves – the very fat you are trying to get rid of! In contrast, eating smaller meals more frequently can trick your body into burning calories instead of conserving them and help curb your appetite.
- Don’t skip breakfast: When your mum told you not to leave the house without breakfast, she was right. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast weigh less than those who do not. Why? As you sleep your body fasts, which slows down your metabolism. Having breakfast helps “wake-up” your metabolism and gives the calorie burning process a much-needed boost to start the day.
- Help yourself to H2O: Next time hunger strikes, reach for a glass of water. Unbelievably, we often mistake our thirst for hunger. With this in mind, try to have a large glass of water before every meal and it's likely you will eat less overall. What’s more, water is essential to a number of body processes and is necessary to help your metabolism work efficiently. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day to keep the fat at bay.
- Get more shut-eye! A lack of sleep increases your body’s secretion of the hormone cortisol, which makes you hungry and negatively affects your metabolism. In addition to eight glasses of H2O, aim for eight hours of sleep as well.
The key to any successful weight-loss programme is time and commitment, so try out just one or two of these suggestions today and then add a few more in each week as you get the hang of it. To chart your progress, why not take your measurements today and use them as a guide to your success? Good luck!