Your metabolism is a tricky thing. Many people I meet tell me their metabolism is "slow" or "broken," which for many is true as years of poor yo-yo low-calorie dieting can cause muscle loss. When we lose muscle, then gain the weight back after the yo-yo diet is over, we only gain fat. Thus, we have just replaced muscle with fat in our body and have a higher body fat percentage, which leads to a slower metabolism. So yes, it's "broken" but the good news is, it can be fixed.
To get your metabolism running back at full speed, try these easy tips:
Sleep: Nothing in the body works properly when we aren't getting enough sleep or enough quality sleep. During sleep, your body is repairing everything and replacing cells that are weak or damaged so they can perform better the next day.
Getting Enough Nutrition: It's not just about the calories you are consuming, it's about getting the right balance. If you are trying to lose weight and cutting calories, but not getting enough nutrition, your muscle mass will be reduced. Eat plenty of clean protein that packs a nutrition punch like salmon, grass-fed beef or plant-based proteins like a pea protein. Getting in enough vitamins and minerals is essential so eat plenty of nutrient-rich veggies such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. The quality of your calories matter as much as the quantity.
If you feel like your metabolism isn’t up to speed, try eating more. Yes, it seems counter-intuitive if you are trying to lose weight, but under-eating can slow metabolism way down. Figure out what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is from a simple online calculator. This is based on age, weight, and gender. Then factor in your activity level. Track your food intake for a few days, and if you aren't hitting your target amount, increase your intake with healthy proteins, nuts, and produce. If you are getting in your full caloric amount for a few days with nutritious foods, your metabolism should rev right back up.
Building Muscle Mass: As we age, our muscle mass is naturally reduced. However, with the right habits, we can reverse this and keep the muscle we have and continue to build. Small habits like lifting weights a few minutes each day, taking the stairs and parking a little further away can help maintain the muscles we have and help to build on them. Use it or lose it.
Have your H2O and Coffee too: Drinking a large glass of cold water first thing in the morning as well as staying hydrated all day helps get your metabolism going. When we are dehydrated, metabolism slows down. It's said that cold water might spike metabolism for an hour after drinking it. The same is true for coffee; the caffeine will raise metabolism, just keep in mind it's dehydrating, so keep up the H2O.
Our metabolism slows down about 2-3% per decade as soon as we hit 20. So if you are in your 50's it may be close to 10% slower than it was at 20. This would be why so many think it's stopped working or broken. Doing all of these easy tips suggested can get it back to working order in no time, and if you have a few stubborn pounds you have wanted to lose, a properly functioning metabolism will take care of that in no time.
Emily Countryman is a board-certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness located at 2639 172nd St. NE Suite 104 in Smokey Point/Marysville. She can be reached online at www.idealwellness.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.