If you haven’t noticed the scale budging, you might be making some serious metabolism mistakes. But now’s the time to listen up because we’re setting the record straight.
We’re here to clear up all the misconceptions wreaking havoc on your weight-loss goals, and we’re starting simple with some metabolism basics. First thing’s first: This chemical process is your body’s way of converting calories into energy and the more efficiently this is done, the less fat gets stored. You might have already known that, but contrary to what some (ahem, most) people might think, it isn’t set for life and there are ways to influence it.
We’re not just talking about a couple of meager tips and tricks, but specific actions you can take to seriously speed things up. We’d hate for your weight-loss efforts to backfire, though, so we’ve pulled together a list of common mistakes people make in the process.
1 Cutting Calories
It’s obvious that consuming less can lead to weighing less, but where should you draw the line when it comes to cutting calories? According to Jim White, R.D., ACSM, and owner of Jim White Fitness Nutrition Studio, anything below 1,200 calories a day can put your body into starvation mode. The last thing you want is for to conserve energy by holding onto fat and slowing your metabolism way down. So cut carefully or you may end up sending the number on the scale in the opposite direction.
2 Banishing Breakfast
Turns out breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that skipping breakfast didn’t have any effect on resting metabolism. So if you have to choose between an empty plate over a box of donuts, skip out on the gooey glaze and get on with your day.
3 Picking Peppers
Spicing things up in the kitchen can boost your metabolism, thanks to the capsaicin found in hot peppers. But don’t worry, just because you’re faint of heart doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the benefits. According to findings presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in Anaheim, California, mild peppers aren’t lagging behind when it comes to calorie burning. In fact, people who ate mild peppers had a metabolism boost that was nearly double that of those who didn’t. So don’t feel any pressure to heat up your plate; you can go mild and still get max results.
4 Multiplying Meals
If snacking isn’t your thing, leave the granola bars and nut mixes at home. There’s no need to munch more frequently in order to fire up your metabolism — three meals are just fine. A study in Hepatology found that belly fat increased in people who divvied up their daily calories up into three small meals with snacks in between. The same waist-widening results were not seen in those who ate an equal amount of calories in just three standard meals.
5 Forgoing Fat
Fatty foods can be your friend, so there’s no need to pull peanut butter from your diet or say no to avos. Full-fat options won’t kill you; far from it, your body actually needs the fat that goes along with these foods to pass on nutrients like calcium, which can help better metabolize fat. This is especially true when it comes to milk and cheese products. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people eating high-fat dairy had the lowest incidence of diabetes.
7 Hustling In Heat
Sorry to all the hot yoga fans out there, but cooler temps have been linked to weight loss. A study in the journal Diabetes found that men who slept in 66-degree rooms for a month nearly doubled their volume of good fat. This is the kind of fat that keeps us warm by burning through bad fat stores. So lower that thermostat if you want an extra metabolism boost.
8 Focusing On Food
Metabolism may mostly have to do with your eating habits, but don’t forget about the role your drinking habits play in this chemical process as well. If you’re looking to increase your calorie-burning rate (who isn’t?), try simply gulping down a couple glasses of water. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, people experienced a 30 percent increase in their metabolic rate when they drank 17 ounces of the good stuff.
9 Cutting Out Coffee
With so much metabolism-revving going on every time you make a mug of green tea, it’s easy to forget about another beneficial beverage — coffee. Drinking this does more than just put a pep in your step every morning; according to a study in Physiology and Behavior, caffeinated coffee drinkers had a higher average metabolic rate than those only drinking decaf. Looks like you can kill two birds with one stone with a cup of joe the next time you’re dragging through a workday, by waking yourself up and burning calories.
10 Obsessing Over It
While taking steps to improve your metabolism is great, there’s no need to go overboard. Stressing about weight loss too much can ironically lead to weight gain, thanks to the cortisol that gets released into your body. This cues the production of insulin, a fat-storage hormone, which can slow your metabolism, according to a study in Biological Psychiatry. So take a deep breath and take it easy, or else you might have to take a trip to the gym.
11 Timing Your Training
Hitting the gym right after scarfing down a massive meal might seem like common sense, but Robert Herbst says you’ve got it all backwards. According to this personal trainer, coach, and powerlifter, you should actually exercise before eating. That way, you can put your boosted metabolism to good use while you shovel in food later.
12 Scrapping Salt
Although we don’t want you going over your daily recommended sodium allowance of 2,300 milligrams, we also don’t think you should cut salt out of your diet too excessively. The iodine found in table salt is vital to your thyroid gland, and this, in turn, is vital to your metabolism regulation. So don’t be afraid to shake some over your next meal, but take our advice with a grain of salt — everything’s best in moderation, right?
13 Skipping HIIT Workouts
Give yourself a pat on the back every time you step onto the yoga mat or the treadmill, but be mindful of the fact that you aren’t getting the most out of your daily exercise as you could be. Research done by the University of South Wales found that high-intensity interval training is the way to go. In addition to helping you lose significant body fat over the course of 3 months, it can also increase metabolic rate for up to 72 hours post-workout.