If you’ve decided to take better control of your overall health, it’s important to consider how and how fast your body converts food into fuel—otherwise known as metabolism. Your metabolic rate affects the speed at which you gain or lose weight, and can vary based on your gender, age and muscle mass. While exercise can increase your metabolism, you should understand what factors can slow it down—and what might be beyond your control.
Here are 15 things that can slow down your metabolism:
Still feel full after a long nap or night of sleep? You might have inherited your metabolism from your parents. Try focusing on factors that you can change, like creating healthy habits. Adding more physical activity and exercise to your routine is great first step.
A change in your hormones can slow your body’s energy use. Hormonal diseases, like an underactive or overactive thyroid and diabetes, can greatly affect your metabolism. So, if you have a medical condition, make it a priority to stay healthy and stick to your treatment.
Good sleep hygiene does more than help you feel rested. Tossing and turning can actually make it difficult for your body to expend energy properly. Try getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep and see if you notice the difference.
4. Strict Diets
Not eating enough switches your metabolism to slow-mo. Some strict diets, especially those that include exercise, can actually backfire. That’s because they train you to function on fewer calories, causing your body to hold on to those calories and making it harder to lose weight. Consider more realistic, less-dramatic diet changes.
5. Trendy Salt
One popular food trend is the use of sea salt. While it might be in many gourmet dishes, it lacks the essential iodine that your thyroid needs to manage your metabolism. You only need a dash of iodized table salt to get your daily requirement, but you can also consider enjoying iodine-rich food like shrimp.
6. Water Consumption
Your metabolism can slow without enough water in your system. Studies show that water helps your body burn energy and fuels weight loss. Remember to drink water throughout the day—it can also help fill you up so you eat less. Or eat more watermelon, cucumbers and other foods naturally rich with water.
7. Decaf Coffee
Coffee without caffeine might be a wise choice before bed, but drink too much, and you’ll miss the jolt caffeine gives your metabolism. If you can, opt for regular to maintain the caffeinated benefits.
8. Calcium Intake
Most of us know calcium is great for your bones but it’s also important for a speedy metabolism. Milk and dairy products are easy options, but you’ll also find calcium in cereals, orange juice, soy milk, canned salmon, kale and tofu.
9. A High Thermostat
If your room is 75 degrees or more, it can keep your body from making brown fat, which is loaded with calorie-burning cells. Consider turning the thermostat down to 66 degrees before bed to boost brown-fat levels while you sleep. If it’s cold outside, a brisk walk can also speed up brown-fat levels, too.
Many drugs can slow your metabolism, including antidepressants and some antipsychotics. Talk to your doctor if you think your prescriptions might be slowing things down.
11. Cutting Carbs
Reducing the amount of unhealthy carbohydrates can help you manage your weight and burn fat. But your body still needs carbs to make insulin. Eating low-carb all the time can make your metabolism stall. To keep burning calories, get carbs from fruits, vegetables and nutrient-rich grains.
12. Being Nocturnal
Just as lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism, so can a late-night routine. Not only will it make you sluggish, it can lead to problems like diabetes and obesity. Try to reset your body clock and avoid red-eye flights. If you can’t change your work schedule, talk to your doctor about other ways to keep your metabolism in check.
13. Meal Times
It’s true—when you eat is just as important as what you eat. Skipping meals or shifting meal times can cause metabolic chaos and increase your risk for heart disease. Try having a regular mealtime and stick to it.
14. Chronic Stress
Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, and high levels can make it harder for your body to make insulin. This can seriously slow down your metabolism while also boosting weight gain. Keep your stress levels manageable by finding easy and fun ways to stay calm and relaxed.
15. A High-Fat Diet
Fatty foods like greasy hamburgers and buttery baked goods are never healthy options. They actually change the way your body breaks down food and nutrients, and affect how your body uses insulin. Instead of high-fat foods, opt for more fruits, vegetables and shellfish.
Many of the factors mentioned above relate to goals that you can set with our Online Health Coach, such as exercising more and eating healthier, reducing stress and feeling better overall. Get started by taking the Blue Health Assessment to customize your own personal health goals.