It MUST be my metabolism...
I recently wrote a post on metabolism where I fleshed out some of the reasons why people experience a "slowing down" of their metabolism.
TL: DR for the post is this:
Your metabolism can be faster or slower based on genetics and how long you've been dieting but it's more than likely due to things outside of the body such as activity level and "sneaky" higher calorie intakes.
Towards the end of that post I gave a few actionable steps towards increasing your metabolic power, however, a few emails came in from folks asking if I could dive deeper into practical steps they could take towards speeding up their metabolism quickly.
Most of my approach towards weight loss focus on improving the long-term success of diets and weight maintenance once a healthy body weight has been achieved.
Nevertheless, there are a few things that I believe you should be implementing into your regimen that will help speed up your weight loss in the short-term!
What's more is that these "metabolism-boosting" strategies can assist you down the road towards achieving optimal health & happiness.
With that said, here are five quick and easy ways to boost your metabolism that will both increase your short-term and long-term weight loss success!
1. Make Sure You are Eating Enough Protein
Before I explain this one, understand that you DO NOT need to be scarfing down copious amounts of protein shakes and bars every day to lose weight.
There is a terrible "Protein Fallacy" that you have to eat an ungodly amount of protein to lose weight...
This is simply untrue. In fact, eating too much protein commonly results in fewer calories from carbohydrates and fats which are critical for optimal health.
Fats and Carbohydrates play important roles in the regulation of hormones, endocrine health, and overall energy levels in the body. (source)
On the other hand, protein isn't completely useless and does have some benefits weight loss and overall health. The primary role of protein during a diet is to reduce muscle loss from eating low calories as well as increase satiety.
Here are a few more things protein is responsible for in the body:
- Immune function
- Energy when carbohydrate is not available
- Making essential hormones and enzymes
The RDI for protein (from the USDA) states that 10% - 35% of calories should come from protein. Most Americans get plenty of protein, and easily meet this need by consuming a balanced diet.
I personally suggest you get around 20-25% of your total calories from protein. Any more and you'll be sacrificing necessary carbohydrates and fats and less may not be optimal for holding onto muscle.
2. Eat More Whole Foods
I classify whole foods as...
foods that have been grown naturally, have not been processed and contains no artificial ingredients (so think fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains, meats, etc.).
Personally, I believe that eating whole foods is one of the most important changes to make in your life if you want to successfully lose and keep weight off.
Regarding your metabolism, eating more whole foods has a number of benefits.
For one, processed food takes less energy to digest and absorb compared to whole foods, so 100 calories of processed foods end up being more net calories than 100 calories of whole food." (source).
This study actually found that processed foods decreased the energy needed to digest food by nearly 50%!
It has also been shown that higher processed food and added sugar intake leads to a higher calorie intake! (source)
3.Take a Look at How Many Calories You're Eating
I don't believe that tracking calories are the ultimate answer for weight loss, but I do believe it has its benefits.
One advantage of tracking calories is that it can teach you portion sizes as well as the energy is specific foods.
Many of the clients I have worked with in the past are surprised to find out how calorically dense some health foods are. For example, almonds are an excellent source of important vitamins and nutrients, but you could easily eat 800-900 calories from them if you're not careful.
If you've been stalled in your weight loss progress, consider using a food log and tracking your calories for a few days. You may find that you're eating more calories that you think...
This is almost always the case when people are eating diets of mostly processed and packaged foods (even though they may be "diet" foods such as protein bars and "slim fast" shakes.
If you are totally turned off to calorie counting, then I suggest you check out my book Envision Yourself Thin. I speak to the importance of learning portion sizes and provide a method of tracking food that doesn't require counting a single calorie!
4. Start Lifting Weights
Lifting weights both increases your energy output AND increases the amount of muscle mass you have.
The first benefit (increasing energy production) is pretty straight forward. Greater energy expenditure will result in more calories needed to maintain your body weight. If you don't give your body those extra calories, you'll lose weight.
The second benefit (increased muscle mass) provides a similar advantage. Having more muscle mass will naturally increase your metabolism. This is because muscle requires energy and adding it to your frame will naturally lead to more calories burned. In fact, muscle mass has been shown to increase resting metabolic rates. (study)
The most important aspect of losing weight is eating in a calorie deficit, but I personally think that lifting weights is a close second. Along with increasing your metabolism, gaining muscle will make you look at feel better! (Lifting Weights is definitely undervalued when it comes to dieting.)
5. Is Your Progress Actually Stalled?
When people start to worry about their metabolism, it's usually because their dieting efforts have gone astray. If weight loss was linear, meaning we lost 2 pounds every week until reaching our goal, then the number of people complaining about their slow metabolism would be much lower.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Weight loss is rarely linear. In fact, it's not uncommon to fluctuate 4-5 pounds from day to day!
Be sure to use more than just body weight to track your weight loss progress. This way you have other metrics to analyze to success or failure of your regimen.
For example, if the scale weight hasn't budged in a few weeks, make sure things like your waist measurement and clothes fit have stalled too before making changes.
Before you give up on your weight loss dreams and banish your metabolism to exile, be sure you are doing the 5 things above.
If you still feel you have a slow or damaged metabolism, then there is still the possibility that you have a medical or genetic problem with your thyroid, and seeking medical advice may be your best option.
Although I am not a doctor, I would love to help you get to the bottom of your weight loss issues. Feel free to email me by leaving a question (I have a question form you can fill out on my home page).