A slow metabolism can make it three times as hard to shed some pounds or feel energized. In this blog post we discuss four mistakes that you might be making that slow down your metabolism. If you can implement even just one or two of the following tips, you should be able to tell a difference in a couple of weeks!
1. Too little lean body mass
Lean body mass is also called fat free mass and refers to all other body mass than fat. Lean body mass is everything else than fat - blood/fluids, bone, muscle etc. Many of us are not nearly as physically active as we could be and our bodies are designed to be. Although we weigh more than ever, our lean mass is constantly in decline. Our life is becoming ever more passive. However, studies show that more lean body mass leads to higher resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories that we burn in a day if we do not move, just to maintain our bodily functions. The higher our fat mass however, the less calories we burn. You can increase your lean body mass by eating a diet rich in protein, and whole foods, and importantly by exercising regularly, preferably doing any weight exercises (body weight or resistance training) twice a week for 20-30 minutes.
The higher the lean mass, the higher your natural metabolic rate. 1 kg or 2,2 lbs automatically burns 31 kcal more every day. It might sound as a small amount, but if you'd be able to raise your muscle mass just by 5 kg or 11 lbs, then that would raise your calories spent per day to 1085 kcal, 4340 per week and 56757 kcal per year. That would sum up to 7,4 kg or 16,3 lbs of fat burnt automatically in a year!
2. Too little protein in your diet
Protein is an amazing superfood in metabolic standpoint. Just by swapping some carbs to protein, you can boost your metabolism considerably. Official recommendation is 0.36 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight. True - our body can manage with this amount without starving muscle, but it is not nearly as metabolically effective as using .75-1 grams/lb/day.
As an extra perk of protein it burns more calories just by digesting it. Protein has an amazing automatic thermic raise in energy consumption by 25% of the energy amount you get from protein. For example: when eating 100 kcal worth of protein, it automatically burns 25 kcal extra. You don't get this effect from carbs or fat!
The other, maybe more important factor is that protein helps build the metabolically active lean mass. Protein helps the muscles to repair and thus to grow as they consist of protein. Eating protein gives your body a strong signal to start growing muscle mass and spend more energy automatically. Eating enough protein long enough builds muscle mass without adding fat mass, just the opposite. If you have a hard time eating as much protein, you may consider boosting your protein intake with a healthy, clean supplement. Check out these excellent protein supplements that we carefully selected for you!
The third important effect of eating protein is that it fills your belly and keeps hunger at bay much better than other type of foods. There is one exception, namely if you are on a ketogenic diet. In ketosis you should avoid too much protein because it lowers ketosis. In ketosis, it is ketone bodies themselves that lessen hunger.
3. Stop Dieting
Dieting has given us a wrong picture about improving one's metabolism. Typical dieting can get your weight to drop, but typically over 50% of this weight is metabolically active lean mass and unless you make it a lifestyle change, we typically gain the weight back and then some. Diet programs are almost always based on heavy calorie restriction for a short period of time.
Our bodies are extremely smart and do everything necessary to stay alive as long as it can even while in a calorie-redistricted environment.
It isn't as simple as that if you want to get lasting results. It is very typical, that after losing weight, one regains all the previously all the previously lost weight and more. But this time it isn't lean mass and muscle tissue that grows back, it is mainly just fat! But then how is it possible to get weight or more specifically harmful adipose tissue down without slowing down your metabolism? The answer is simple but multi-part.
First, we must forget this distorted image that weight must be forced to drop weight by any means.
Second, we need to prioritize the upkeep/boosting of metabolism - that is, using means that help our body remove fat tissue and maintain/grow muscle tissue.
It isn't as simple as just dieting by dropping calories, but so much more worth it in the long run. If you have lost and gained weight many times in your life, then I ask you to stop hurting your body and metabolism, but start taking care of it. Your body's metabolism does all the work and you will be feeling so much better than after any “diet” program. Give yourself at least one year to complete a lifestyle change step by step.
4. Get quality sleep
The metabolic significance of sleep is much less known to the public than exercise or nutrition. Sleep is one of the most important regulators of metabolism, hormonal function, behavior, and nervous system function. Check out our blog post on why sleep is important and how to improve your sleep here!
Even small changes in sleep rhythm, sleep length, and quality interfere with metabolism in many ways. That’s one reason why people with sleep disorders or sleep apnea, for example, find it so much harder to lose weight. Even more alarming is that up to 70% of westerners sleep chronically too little! Sleep and metabolism are deeply connected, and there is a lot to be said about this connection. Let us focus on some research that demonstrates the effects of sleep.
10 overweight individuals were maintained on a calorie-deficient diet for 2 different reference periods, each lasting 2 weeks. In the second period they were allowed to sleep 8.5 hours a night, in the second only 5.5 hours. The weight dropped and composition of weight loss were monitored. Both periods had the same weight loss, but with an amazing difference between fat mass and lean mass. With an 8.5- hour night’s sleep, the weight dropped at the expense of 50% fat mass and 50% lean mass.
At the same time, during a 5.5-hour night’s sleep, only 25% of the fat was lost and 75% was lost at the expense of lean metabolically active tissue. Do not underestimate sleep, it can be one of the most important tools against excess weight, and metabolic and lifestyle diseases. In fact, the number one expert on sleep says we should not ask why we sleep but why we do not sleep all the time!