The world seems to keep moving faster and building up steam, but as we age, our body’s metabolism slows down. (A great thing to say once we’re entering bathing suit season, huh?) Although it’s true that our metabolism rate declines, it doesn’t mean that we’re helpless. There are daily habits that kill your metabolism. If you recognize a few of them, you may be able to fight time a little bit and improve your metabolism levels.
Bad Habit: No Breakfast
It’s easy to do. During the morning rush, you’re preparing for work, planning the day’s meals, and getting the kids ready for their activities. Breakfast may seem like a luxury, but regarding speeding up your metabolism, it’s key. While you sleep, your metabolism slows; with your first meal of the day, you’re firing up the system again and setting the tone to burn calories throughout the day.
Bad Habit: Bad Breakfast
While having breakfast is important, having the right breakfast is even more important. For your first meal of the day, seek out foods that are high in fiber and protein and avoid refined carbs and sugar (sorry, donut lovers). You’ll also want to steer clear of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), often found in snack foods and crackers. HFCS is readily absorbed, meaning the body doesn’t have to work as hard to process it and thereby slowing down your metabolism. Good choices include whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, yogurt and berries, or eggs. All can be quickly prepared and get your day (and metabolism) off to a strong and healthy start.
Bad Habit: Stay Still
For those with a standard desk job, getting settled in a chair all day seems to be part of the deal. However, staying still for the majority of the day works against you in several ways. Inactivity sets your body in a zone to conserve energy and slow down your metabolism. Sitting for extended periods has a negative impact on our ability to regulate our blood pressure and blood sugar and break down fat. In this state, we may not be inclined to exercise because we’re tired, but we’re often tired because we aren’t exercising or moving. We can get caught in a cycle. Even if you devote 10 minutes per hour to walk around the office a bit, you’ll notice a recharge in your energy level. If you have a hard time starting this habit, set a reminder on your phone or watch. You’ll notice and appreciate the difference it makes.
Bad Habit: Wrong Exercise
Exercising itself is great. Of course, the ways you exercise should be in line with your health goals. To help pick up your metabolism, variety is vital. As with anything, we can be creatures of habit and can get stuck in an exercise routine that might have served us well at one point but now places us on a plateau. Vary up your exercises, rotating between cardio, strength, weight and resistance training. Take advantage of classes such as boxing, cycling, or another form of high intensity tactical training. While some shy away from lifting weights out of fear that it will build mass or add weight, it actually is helpful in burning more calories. A pound of muscle can burn 4 to 6 more calories than a pound of fat, according to the American Council on Exercise. Shake up your exercise plan.
Bad Habit: Little Sleep
When we were younger, we may have resented the required afternoon naps. Now, we may miss them. A lack of sleep is not often intentional. Many times, it is circumstantial. Whatever the reason, a lack of sleep can play tricks on the hormones our body produces. Too little leptin, a hormone that signals we’re full, is produced thus causing imbalance in determining when we’re full. Likewise, too much ghrelin, a hormone signaling hunger, is produced thus causing us to feel hungry more frequently. Production of cortisol is also produced, increasing cravings for sugary, starchy and fatty foods. Ideally, we log seven to nine hours of sleep a night to provide our bodies more rest and hormonal stability.
Bad Habit: Stressing Out
We can’t necessarily control all the circumstances we encounter or that impact our lives, but we can work to manage our stress levels. In times of stress, we’re likely to skip our opportunities to exercise because we may not feel we have the time. It’s really in periods of stress, though, exercise is more beneficial. Stress also plays a factor in our amount and quality of sleep. It can also increase our levels of cortisol, tempting us to reach for comfort foods. Being able to monitor how the stress affects us will help prevent it from negatively impacting our metabolism too much.
We can’t turn back time, but we can do things now to help our metabolism stay active and give us fuel to keep going!
Senior Vice President, Communications