Jealous of the Pal With Good Metabolism? Here’s Why Yours is Slow
Here’s the real reason you can’t keep that weight off after a diet.
Often, all our efforts towards losing weight come to a nought only because – our metabolism does not support us.
It’s a vicious cycle. When the metabolism is down in the dumps, we eat all kinds of additional meals/snacks – and ALL the ‘extra bites’ we eat translate into ‘extra weight’.
In simple terms, metabolism is like the engine of the body: you take in food, and your metabolism or engine, uses it either for energy, or stores it as fat. The faster our metabolism, the more calories we burn (and stay thinner) – while a slower metabolism means more food gets converted into fat (= thicker thighs and an extra tyre around our waist).
Our sex (women have lower metabolism), height, weight, genetics, age (it dips as we age) – all affect our metabolism. But before you can dismiss it saying, “Oh, it’s hopeless if it’s all genetics” – here’s what you need to know: your lifestyle habits are at play too.
Yes, most of us are making enough mistakes every day to mess up our metabolism.
Do any of these sound familiar?
You Eat Too Little
When we begin eating less (all those terrible 600/800 calorie diets), our body just adapts itself and begins managing with a lesser number of calories. (Yes, it’s smarter than us!)
What happens is that we need a certain amount of calories and nutrients each day for normal functioning. When we deny the body these essential elements, the system goes into survival mode, slows down the metabolism and spurs the storage of energy in the form of fat.
The bottomline is that you have to eat in order to lose weight, so no skipping meals please.
You are Forever on a Diet
Please understand that EVERY successive time you diet and lose weight – and then gain weight and then try to lose weight again… the metabolism dips further. That’s why each successive time, it gets more and more difficult to shake off extra weight.
Let me explain: let’s say you began with 1800 calories requirement per day. After a couple of cycles you’ll probably end up near 1000 calories… and then, even if you completely starve yourself, you won’t lose weight at all. So stop this self-destructive pattern right now. Lose weight once by right means and then maintain it. Don’t inflict this yo-yo damage to your body.
You Eat Bland Food
You don’t have to. Really! Tasty food works on your mind too, and satisfies you better.
Plus, spices work in two ways: they make our food tastier and help us eat healthier foods like protein and vegetables more. They also help boost our metabolism a bit too, even if temporarily.
So don’t go banning them from your meals!
You Don’t Have Enough Protein
Here’s why you need protein – it helps turn your body into a fat-melting furnace! If you don’t have enough, you will lose muscle mass big time and also suffer a dip in your metabolism.
That’s because your digestive tract has to work harder to break down protein than it does to break down carbohydrate, and this increases caloric burn during digestion.
Which means, if you’re on a diet and trying to cut calories – tone down carbs and fat, NOT protein. Of course that doesn’t mean you go off carbs completely, as maintaining a balance between all food groups is extremely important.
You are Largely Inactive Through the Day
Even fidgeting burns calories, and sitting for too long is the easiest way to gain weight. The more you exercise, the more muscle mass you build (and also manage to hold on to the old stock). This helps because muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so replacing your fat stores with lean muscle helps you to lose – as well as maintain – your weight much more easily.
So keep active, as all of your day’s activity – walking, stair climbing, dancing, every body movement you make (whether you’re cleaning your closet or washing your car) – adds to your total caloric burn.
You Don’t Drink Enough Water
Lack of water can slow the metabolic rate – just as lack of food can. When we don’t drink enough water the liver turns its concentration to water retention instead of burning fat. Now that’s a double whammy for sure!
(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People.)
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