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What Can Ruin My Metabolism?

Updated: May 16, 2022

What’s going on in your body right now? Your first answer might be that you’re hungry, or that your muscles are sore from a run, or that you feel tired. If you could peek inside of any cell in your body, you’d find that it was a remarkable hub of activity, more like a busy open-air market than a quiet room!

Whether you are awake or sleeping, running or watching TV, energy is being transformed inside your cells, changing forms as molecules undergo the connected chemical reactions that keep you alive and functional.

Here's a diagram of the core metabolic pathways in a cell, such as the cells that make up the human body. Each line is a reaction, and each circle is a product.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.

So, what are some of the common metabolism mistakes you probably made today that might prevent from tomorrow being a great day?

You didn’t get a good night’s sleep

A lack of sleep can cause you to burn fewer calories, lack appetite control and experience an increase in cortisol levels, which stores fat. Lack of sufficient sleep — which experts say is 7 to 9 hours a night for most people — also leads to impaired glucose tolerance, a.k.a. your body’s ability to utilize sugar for fuel.

You started your day dehydrated

One of the best and cheapest ways to give your metabolism a jolt is to drink water shortly after waking. Why? During sleep, your body’s metabolic function slowed and it didn’t receive any fluids. Rehydrating before stressing your body with any other food or drink is beneficial. This leads to less bloating, more energy and a smaller appetite.

You drank too much caffeine

Caffeine can boost your metabolism in the AM. But guzzling coffee and other caffeinated drinks all day could actually work against you. Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant. Not eating enough throughout the day can make your metabolism sluggish.

You sit too much

Ideally, we sleep about eight hours for every 24. Most people spend another seven to ten hours sitting at their desk, more so in the current COVID situation. That means most of us spend the overwhelming majority of our time sedentary. Our bodies weren’t designed for this level of inactivity — most of humans’ evolutionary history involved being active, searching for food and fuel. One way to burn more calories daily is to stand more and sit less. A good office habit: Set a phone timer to remind you get up every hour and walk around, even for a few minutes.

You ate too many calories too late in the day

Not eating enough calories in a day is an easy way to slow your metabolism. But eating a large dinner, especially too close to bedtime, can be detrimental to your metabolism. It’s likely to throw off your inner clock which can ultimately lead to weight gain. You can prepare for busy or unpredictable days by packing healthy snacks to keep you from overeating or making unhealthful food choices.

You’ve nixed carbs completely

Although it’s true that eating too many refined carbs can get in the way of your health and weight-loss goals, eating too few can have a similar effect. That’s because when we exercise, our muscles need carbohydrates’ stores of glycogen for energy; if they don’t get enough, they can’t grow. That’s bad because the more muscle you can get and keep, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.

You’re working out at the wrong time

Getting out and about in the early morning sunlight could help to regulate your circadian rhythm. That controls the many functions your body performs, including how much and well you sleep, how much you eat, and how much energy you burn. Try stepping outside for a jog or walk first thing in the a.m.

You’re eating inconsistent amounts at irregular times

Aim for each of your meals to be roughly the same size. People who fluctuated between eating low- and high-calorie meals were less happy with their bodies than those whose plates contained a similar number of calories from meal to meal. But it’s not just a fluctuating size that can derail your metabolism. Eating at the same times every day trains the body to burn more calories between meals.

You’re consuming too many pesticides & dietary toxins

Chemicals in pesticides called organochlorines can mess with your body’s energy-burning process. There is growing evidence for a link between exposure to pesticides and thyroid problems. Your best move is to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible. Limiting your exposure to dietary toxins, sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods will help keep your metabolism revved.

You’re not eating enough protein

Protein is a one-stop metabolism shop. It fills you up, making you less likely to forage for less metabolism-boosting food. It can rev post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35% and it helps you grow muscle. It ought to be a component in every meal. Eat protein-rich foods such as fish, egg whites, lean meat or nuts daily. For vegan/vegetarian diets, you might want to use a plant protein powder in your meal preparation.

You’re eating too many sweets

Avoiding sugary foods is a great idea. Why? Sugar creates a spike in blood glucose levels and is very quickly absorbed into your system. Both of these mechanisms are putting the brakes on your metabolism. This was my area of growth too.

About the authors:

Madur & Anitha Jagannath are certified Nutrition Consultants, in addition to their professions in technology and human resources. When Madur started feeling lethargic and slowing down, he started exercising regularly, became conscious of healthy eating habits and nutrition. He is an avid runner and does half-marathons often. At Voyage to Wellness, they attribute our reputation to the lasting customer relationships they have developed throughout the years. They believe in health & wellness and being fit, at all stages of people's lives.

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