You’ve heard it all before — if you could just boost your metabolism a bit, then you could achieve that goal weight on the scale and the muscles of your dreams.
You may know that exercise and movement can boost your metabolism, but is a slow metabolism really to blame if you can’t seem to keep unwanted pounds off and get the body you’ve always wanted?
Your metabolism is the process that your body goes through to convert what you’re eating and drinking everyday into energy that you can use.
Essentially, the calories from your food and drinks that you consume are then combined with oxygen to give your body the energy boost it needs to function.
Your body uses energy to keep you alive (chewing, breathing, and circulating blood throughout your body all takes calories), and the minimum number of calories you burn a day without any physical activity varies greatly depending on your body size, sex, and age.
The more efficiently your body goes through this metabolic process, the more efficiently you’ll be burning calories.
Think your metabolism needs a boost? Check out these five mistakes you’re making that are hurting your metabolism.
- You’re not getting enough sleep
Sleep is your body’s time to restore, and it’s good for keeping your metabolism working properly as well. The San Francisco Chronicle explains that those who do not get the proper amount of sleep may have a higher chance of developing a metabolic disorder down the road.
In addition to this, the hormones that are responsible for regulating your appetite, ghrelin and leptin, are also affected when you don’t get enough sleep, thus you’ll feel less satisfied after your meals and hungrier than normal, which affects your metabolism as well.
- You’re not drinking enough water
Staying hydrated isn’t just the key to feeling more awake and boosting your workout performance — it’s also key to keeping your metabolism healthy and active.
Shape explains that even if you’re only mildly dehydrated, you could be slowing your metabolism down by up to 3%, which can lead to weight gain in the long run.
And, if weight gain is your primary concern, then drinking a few glasses of water before a meal is always a good way to manage how much you consume before you even start eating — you’ll naturally feel fuller, no matter how hungry you were.
- You’re not lifting weights
Before you jump on the treadmill at the gym and leave the weight machines and free weights in the dust, it’s important to keep in mind that weight lifting is what pushes your metabolism into high gear, not cardio.
While performing cardio is important for getting that heart rate up and burning calories in the moment, it’s the building of muscle that’s going to keep your metabolism higher over a longer period of time, which keeps you burning more fat and calories even during your rest periods.
- You’re not eating enough protein
Protein is essential for building muscle, and if you’re hitting the gym consistently, your post-gym snack or meal should have plenty of protein to help repair your body and make it even stronger.
While carbs and fat are also important components of your diet, it’s the protein that will keep you fuller for longer, and it’s also protein that will help keep your metabolism at a healthy level.
- You’re not going outside
Here’s yet another reason as to why you should leave your office during your lunch break and get outside as much as possible. Ben Spencer, a science reporter for Daily Mail, explains that sunlight doesn’t just provide you with vitamin D, but it also provides you with metabolism-revving benefits so that you can stay healthy even if weight lifting and eating protein aren’t on your to-do list.
When you’re exposed to sunlight, your skin releases nitric oxide, which is key in keeping your metabolism healthy.