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7 Lifestyle Habits That Are Slowing Down Your Metabolism


There are plenty of factors you can’t change that affect metabolism: Age, gender, body size (height and bone structure), and family history.

Fortunately, there are things you can change to keep your body and metabolism running smoothly—but are you doing them? You may be hurting your metabolism with everyday habits and not even realize it!

Here are 7 lifestyle habits that can slow down your metabolism, according to science.

1. You’re Consuming Too Much Sugar

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Consuming a bunch of refined sugar activates fat storage in the body, which is hard on your metabolism.

Exercise is crucial if you’re eating a lot of sugar since your muscles use it up instead of storing it as fat. So, your metabolism is negatively affected if you’re mostly sedentary with a high-sugar diet.

Some of the biggest culprits are sugary beverages, including sodas, specialty coffees, fruit juices, and energy drinks. In fact, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are the largest contributor of sugar intake in the United States!

Sugary drinks and foods can also lead to a temporary spike in blood sugar followed by a crash, which makes you feel hungry or thirsty soon after. (Thus, making you eat and drink more.)

Try staying away from things like pastries, cookies, donuts, candy, cupcakes, granola bars, and sweetened yogurt. (Moderation is key!)

2. You’re Not Getting Enough Protein

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Protein is an indispensable factor for maintaining a vigorous metabolic rate! Research shows that high protein intake significantly boosts your metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn.

Protein contributes to the formation of muscle mass, which also aids calorie expenditure. Make a goal to eat protein at every meal from sources like meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, dairy, and eggs.  

3. You’re Waiting Too Long Between Meals

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Eating habits play an important role in maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Waiting six to eight hours between meals can cause shakiness, low energy, and low blood sugar levels. Throwing off your blood sugar levels can negatively impact your metabolism.

Moreover, when you wait too long between meals, it can cause you to overat! The optimal waiting time between meals is three to five hours. Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help keep your metabolism running smoothly.

When you do eat, it’s important to eat balanced meals that include lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods high in sugar and saturated fat.

4. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

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Drinking more water comes with plenty of benefits, including speeding up your metabolism. If you’re not properly hydrated, dehydration can slow your metabolism, increase unhealthy cravings, cause blood sugar spikes, and make you feel sluggish all around.

Adequate water intake also:

Helps suppress your appetite

Improves your workouts

Helps remove body waste

Saves you calories when you drink it instead of soda, juice, and sweetened tea or coffee

All of these factors contribute to a healthy body and metabolism, and can help promote weight loss.

The recommended water intake is around 9 cups daily (8 oz each) for women and 13 cups for men.

5. You’ve Stopped Working Your Muscles

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As we age, our muscle mass and strength naturally begin to decrease—a real-life example of “use it or lose it.” Strength training (also known as resistance training) is a safe, effective method for combating muscle loss and preserving bone density.

Strength training exercises use dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, or your body weight to build muscle mass, increasing the body’s ability to burn more calories and boost metabolism. Other benefits of strength training include improved mental and emotional well-being and a decreased risk of conditions like arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and back pain.

The American Heart Association recommends strength training at least twice per week to keep your body stronger, healthier, and less prone to injury. 

Here are a few ways to get started:

20-Minute Strength Workout (7 Basic Exercises)

Strength Training for Women Over 50: 11 Best Moves

A 20-Minute Easy Upper Body Workout For Beginners

6. You’re Not Managing Your Stress

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Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but when it persists and becomes too intense, it can harm your metabolism.

Chronic stress causes the body to release extra cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which actually tells your body to store fat instead of burn it. High cortisol has been associated with issues like weight gain, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.

Yoga is an excellent way to reduce stress levels while providing physical benefits such as increased flexibility and strength. Yoga combines breathing exercises with postures that help relax the mind and body while reducing muscle tension. Regular yoga can also stimulate metabolism by soothing the nervous system and improving digestion.

Other stress-relieving techniques include:

Meditation: Meditating can aid in heightening self-awareness so you can spot any hints of pressure or uneasiness before they become too intense. Taking just 10 minutes out of each day for meditation can make a huge difference.

Deep breathing exercises: Deep breathing techniques involve taking slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm instead of shallow chest breaths, which help calm down both mind and body quickly.

Regular physical activity: Exercise has been proven time and again to be one of the best methods for reducing stress levels effectively while helping boost metabolism. It has a positive effect on the hormone balance within our bodies and releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) into our bloodstream, making us feel happier while decreasing harmful cortisol levels.

7. You’re Skimping On Sleep

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It’s no secret that getting a solid 8 hours of sleep sets you up for success during the day. You’re more alert, energized, and ready to make healthy choices.

A lack of sleep can make your metabolism more sluggish. What’s worse? Most of us overeat to compensate for the energy dip. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleep-deprived people were more likely to choose high-carb snacks, especially late at night.

Getting too little sleep can throw two of your body’s hunger hormones out of whack—leptin and ghrelin—which can cause you to hold onto more fat and crave sugary, salty foods more frequently.

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Charge electronic devices away from your bed and avoid screen and TV time right before you go to sleep. You can also try some sleepy time tea, magnesium glycinate, or melatonin to help with sleep.

Check out some of our other tips for a better night’s sleep.

Balance These 4 Hormones for Weight Loss

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Your hormones impact so many things—from your mood and energy levels to your weight.

When you are deficient or dominant in any one hormone, it’s easier to gain weight. This is particularly true for women who are experiencing hormonal imbalances caused by the natural aging process.

If you’re someone struggling with weight loss, you might benefit from understanding your hormone levels and trying these natural ways to balance your hormones.

Balance These 4 Hormones for Weight Loss

14 Health Benefits of Cucumbers (And a Few Refreshing Recipes)

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From healthy skin to improved memory, check out the top 14 health benefits of cucumbers!

And if you’re lucky enough to have a load from your garden or farmers market on hand, you’ll definitely want to check out some of our favorite cucumber recipes, too.

14 Health Benefits of Cucumbers (And a Few Refreshing Recipes)

Power Walking For Beginners

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With countless studies proving the health benefits of power walking, learning how to do it will keep you moving well into the future.

Power walking is one of the most maintainable workouts a person can add to their life, so if you haven’t tried it yet, how about starting now?

Power Walking For Beginners

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