Trying to accomplish fitness goals can be a struggle, especially when it feels like your metabolism is working against you. Your metabolism is impacted by several factors, which is why your experience seems so different from those around you.
While some factors positively impact your metabolism, others have the opposite effect. Here are five things that could negatively impact your metabolism to help you determine where to start.
You Have a History of Dieting
It seems contradictory that dieting would negatively impact your metabolism, but it does have an effect. While the claims of permanent damage caused by dieting are a bit overblown, a history of yo-yo dieting will alter how your body reacts to caloric restriction.
Calories are an energy source that fuels your body. The goal of dieting is losing weight by restricting that fuel source, encouraging your body to use up fat stores for energy. As your body gets smaller, it requires less energy to operate. As such, your body adapts to only use the energy it needs to survive. If you’re restricting your body for extended periods, your weight loss will plateau, and your body will learn quicker with each diet.
This explanation is an oversimplification of a scientific thermodynamic process, but it helps offer some perspective of why your metabolism acts the way it does after years of dieting. Many fad diets also use extreme restriction, which enhances the effects of your adaptation. Many competitive bodybuilders experience the same challenges.
If you have a history of dieting and continue to struggle with your metabolism, consider getting a metabolism testing kit to determine if there’s a problem. There’s a good chance your body is doing exactly what it was designed to do, and the dieting itself is the issue.
It’s a sad reality that your metabolism slows down by approximately 10% each decade after the 20s. Consider it this way: as a child and teenager, your body’s job is to move, learn and grow. Once you hit your 20s, that job is done.
While you can’t reverse the metabolic effects of aging, you can keep the proverbial home fires burning. Adding physical exercise and resistance training will help maintain and improve your metabolism with age while assisting in injury prevention and the maintenance of bone density.
Lack of Hydration
Your body is made of water, and it needs water to live. While drinking water can help you lose weight, it does so much more than that. Hydration nourishes your cells to ensure they’re working at functional levels. It helps move food through your digestive system and process it efficiently. Water triggers thermogenesis, improves satiety (fullness after eating), and fuels workouts.
In fact, go have a glass of water right now, then keep reading for more tips.
Consistency in Exercise
The idea that exercising consistently causes damage seems controversial, but it does have an impact. Yes, you want to exercise regularly, but you don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. As mentioned before, your body is built to have an adaptive response to repeated stimulation, be it food or movement.
So, increase the weights, up the reps, change your speed, or throw in some other activities to keep your body guessing. This will keep your metabolism on its toes and prevent the adaptation that causes it to slow down and relax.
Poor Stress Management
Stress is a silent killer that does extensive damage to every system in your body, including your metabolism. It often goes hand-in-hand with disrupted sleep patterns, which increase the output of a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress response hormone meant to put your body in survival mode. Consider issues that caused stress among early humans. It wasn’t work or family drama; it was survival. One of the key functions of cortisol is to hold onto body fat to help you survive the winter in a cave with no food. While our lifestyles have upgraded, some of our original functions have not.
Improving your metabolism means understanding what impacts it, giving your body what it needs, and avoiding triggers that can cause negative outcomes to your metabolism and your overall health.