Some routine habits we engage in without a second thought may be killing all that hard work in the gym and at the dinner table. The good news is these metabolism busters are easy to fix.
We caught up with nutritionist, dietician and fellow Boomer Romina Ryals to get her views on the top nutrition-related metabolism busters we should all leave behind in 2017 and why normal metabolic function is so vital.
“We can’t get very far as human beings without a functioning metabolism because our metabolism is the reason we are able to convert the food we eat into immediate energy or store it to use later,” says Ryals. “This energy controls our entire body, asleep or awake, all of our organs and functions.”
Your First Clues
So what are some of the telltale metabolism-busters we should be on the lookout for?
Weight-Related – Ryals says the No. 1 indicator is weight-related. It can be either weight gain, an inability to lose weight, or finding yourself on a stubborn weight-loss plateau.
Feeling Tired – While there can be many reasons for chronic exhaustion, one of key components can be dietary, says Ryals. “When tiredness is nutritionally driven, it’s because you are not using energy property to fuel the body. When that energy source doesn’t reach the cells, you will feel tired.”
Chronic constipation – Slow movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract may be a sign of a slowing metabolism. “It’s not a popular thing to talk about, but if you’re not going regularly, it means you are not getting enough fiber, and it probably means your metabolism is slowing,” says Ryals.
That’s when many people will add fiber to their diets – either through veggies and fruits or via supplementation. When we do this, it’s also essential that we drink enough water. “You can’t add fiber without adding fluid to move it through. Adequate water intake will help with the fiber intake and with the metabolism,” Ryals explains.
Five Metabolism-Busting Habits to Ditch
When it comes to metabolism busters, there are 5 key habits that are worth tossing aside this year in order to keep your engine stoked.
1. Super-Restrictive Diets. Yo-yo dieting or super restrictive diets cause the body to go into survival mode because it thinks it is starving and slows metabolism to preserve resources. Inadequate caloric intake can break down muscle for use of glycogen, or stored energy.
2. Meal-Skipping and Irregular Eating Patterns. Eating more frequently throughout the day (every 4 hours) in smaller amounts can help regulate a slower metabolism.
“The idea is grazing. Be patient. It takes 30+ days to change a habit, and eating on a regular schedule is a whole new phenomenon for many people,” says Ryals.
The body has amazing self-regulating mechanisms and will naturally try to support what it’s fed. If it gets nothing for half the day, it will cling to body fat for fear of starvation. “Then, your body is going to make up for the caloric deficit during the day, so the tendency will be to overeat.”
3. Highly-Refined Carbs. Stay away from foods loaded with refined sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods, etc. Not only do they interrupt the metabolism, but they also fuel cravings.
“A lot of people turn to these foods for a quick and easy boost of energy, but they regret it later,” says Ryals. Instead, choose energy-sustaining foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits that contain fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats to help support a healthy metabolism.
“The good news is there is a lot of convenience packaging now available at the grocery story for healthier foods,” says Ryals. “Meal-planning is just as important as a your New Year’s resolution to get to the gym more often.
4. Cardio-Only Workouts. Start weight training. Building lean body mass helps your metabolism even while you sleep.
“As we age, we naturally start converting the ratio of muscle to fat,” Ryals explains. “One way we can slow that process, is to keep building that lean body mass. It is about mixing it up and working smarter. “
5. Going Without Sleep. For long-term health, it’s very important to get enough sleep. Ryals points out that metabolic disturbances related to lack of sleep have been related to insulin resistance and diabetes.
“Insulin helps get the energy into the cells,” she explains. “And when you’re not getting energy into the cells, hormonal disturbances will occur that affect sleep.”