5 Ways You’re Slowing Down Your Metabolism

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By: Mary Squillace

In terms of universally coveted things, a lightning-fast metabolism has to be right up there with the fountain of youth. After all, a fully-functioning metabolism makes losing weight and staying in shape a lot easier. However, even if you’re conscious about your health, it’s possible you’re unintentionally slowing down your metabolism — or overlooking metabolism-boosting opportunities. Here, five mistakes you might be making, plus ways to increase your metabolism.

metabolism boosters weightsEven if you’re sweating on the reg, if your primary form of exercise is cardio, you’re missing out on the opportunity to rev up your metabolism. Instead, reach for those dumbbells (or resistance bands, or body-weight exercises). Strength training could be your ticket to a speedier metabolism. You see, that hella-cut six pack and pair of rippling biceps aren’t just easy on the eye; having more muscle helps you burn more fat.[1][2]

In fact, one study found that resistance training helped boost subjects’ resting metabolic rate by 7 percent.[3]  What’s more, you don’t have to do hours of reps to reap the metabolic benefits of resistance training. Researchers found that as little as 11 minutes of resistance training, three days a week, was linked to a faster metabolic rate and increased fat- and calorie-burn.[4]

Do this: Pump iron (or do body weight exercises) 3 times a week to increase your metabolism. Download this printable workout for building muscle now.

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metabolism booster caffeineNeed another reason to start your day with a Bulletproof Coffee? Caffeine can help fire up your metabolism. One study found that as little as one cup of coffee consumed in the morning can have a positive effect on your resting metabolic rate.[5] Other literature reviewed in the study found that consuming caffeine before exercising can also boost the fat- and calorie-burning effects of your workout. If you don’t drink coffee, green tea can also do the trick. Research shows it’s a metabolism booster in its own right, thanks in part to the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).[6]

Do this: To increase your metabolism, drink Bulletproof Coffee each morning. Switch to green tea in the afternoon.

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metabolism boosters sleepHere’s some motivation for hitting the hay at a reasonable hour: Adequate sleep can help prevent weight gain. A 2012 study found a correlation between a longer total sleep time — and particularly the time spent in the deeper stages of sleep — and a higher resting metabolic rate. In other words, sleep quality is as important as quantity.[7] Conversely, not getting enough sleep or having disruptive sleep has been linked to a more sluggish metabolic rate, as well as potentially increasing your risk for diabetes and obesity.[8][9]

Do this: Get more high-quality zzz’s by turning off electronics two hours before bedtime and sleeping in a pitch-black room. Get more science-backed sleep hacks here.

metabolism boosters prebioticsTo lose weight and keep it off, you need to show some love to your gut — and specifically to slimming gut bacteria. Among the organisms hanging out in your gut, there are two big players when it comes to metabolism: beneficial Bacteroidetes and metabolism-thwarting Firmicutes. Research has shown that obese people and animals tend to have a greater proportion of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes, while lean people have more Bacteroidetes.[10]

Fortunately, your gut microbiome makeup isn’t predestined. You can cultivate the friendly bacteria residing in your gut by feeding it prebiotics (foods your gut loves). Load up on polyphenols (think brightly colored fruits like raspberries or blueberries). Coffee’s another great source of polyphenols. Eating more high-fiber foods and resistant starch may also help shift the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes ratio in your favor to increase metabolism.[11]

Do this: Eat high-fiber vegetables, foods high in resistant starch liked cooked and cooled white rice, and brightly colored berries.

metabolism boosters fatYes, this goes against all of the weight-loss diets that have been peddled for years, but restricting calories can have a negative effect on your resting metabolic rate[12][13] that can last beyond your dieting days.[14] Restricting your calorie intake can also impact your body’s metabolism-friendly leptin levels.[15]

Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain when you should stop eating.[16][17] A fully-functioning leptin system helps regulate your energy homeostasis[18] (aka keeping the calories you consume and expend balanced), while leptin deficiencies have been linked to obesity.[19]

You can hack the leptin in your body by avoiding fructose[20] and high-lectin foods (that’s not a typo — lectin with a “c” is a protein that can mess with your gut), which can contribute to leptin resistance. (Here are some other ways to make leptin work for your metabolism).

Do this: Instead of counting calories, focus on quality, whole foods and eat until you’re comfortable, not full.

Read next: The Best Ways to Lose Weight, According to Science 

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About Mary Squillace

Mary is an LA-based journalist and five-time marathoner who now gets most of her cardio chasing after her toddler. Her byline has appeared in Real Simple, Glamour, Men’s Journal, Health, and Shape, among other publications. When she’s not on deadline, you can find her devouring her latest library haul or watching too much TV.

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5 Ways You’re Slowing Down Your Metabolism

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