If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you’ve probably wondered at some point whether you simply have a slow metabolism. It’s often thought to be a cause of weight gain and something that makes it difficult to shed the pounds too. But what is your metabolism, do you have a slow one and does it really affect body weight?
Here, we explain exactly how your metabolism works, how likely it is that yours is causing you issues, plus some practical ways to give it a boost.
What is your metabolism?
Your metabolism is a combination of all the chemical reactions that are constantly happening inside your body. These tiny processes keep everything functioning as it should, enabling you to breathe, think, repair cells, digest food, and numerous other everyday tasks. In order to do this, your body needs energy from carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Metabolism refers to the processing or breaking down of these nutrients into tiny parts for your body to use.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) explained
Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories (i.e. energy) needed to minimally fuel your body for the absolute basics, like thinking, breathing and sleeping. These requirements barely change on a day to day basis and are mainly influenced by how much muscle or fat we have on our body.
Muscle cells are more ‘metabolically active’, which means they need more calories to function than fat cells do. So people with more muscle burn more calories, even without doing anything! Sounds good, right?
It’s unlikely you genuinely have a ‘slow metabolism’
Although a ‘slow metabolism’ is often cited as a cause of weight issues, it’s actually a relatively rare problem. Certain medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome can cause it, but these aren’t at all common. Research shows that very few people really do have a slow metabolism, but because the term is used so often, we assume it’s a frequent problem.
In reality, most of us are consuming a few more calories than we realise and not burning off enough in our day to day activities. Over time the effects of this imbalance slowly build up until we find ourselves with excess weight, but there are several practical steps we can take that will really help to solve the issue.
Following the steps below will help you to both boost your metabolism and cut down your calorie intake. Follow them all in conjunction with one another and you’ll be well on your way to ridding yourself of your excess weight issues permanently.
1 Build up more muscle mass
Since muscle is more metabolically active, increasing your muscle mass enables you to burn more calories, even at rest. Incorporating strength exercises into your weekly routine will help you to increase muscle and use more calories throughout the day (even when you’re not exercising). This also has the added benefit of making your body look more toned, which of course can boost your confidence levels too. Learn more about the amazing benefits of strength training here.
2 Keep a food diary
Something many people don’t realise is that it’s physically impossible to gain fat without a surplus of calories. The most common cause of weight gain is unknowingly consuming calories that add up to an energy imbalance. There’s often a surprising difference between what we think we’re consuming and what we’re actually eating and drinking on a daily basis (even if we try really hard to watch every calorie).
Keeping a food diary enables you to take a realistic look at what you’re actually eating throughout the day. You don’t have to show it to anyone else, but it’s a great way to hold yourself accountable for your actions. After completing a food diary for just 2-3 days, people are often surprised that they’re consuming far more than they realised. It’s common to disregard things like drinks, sauces, and snacks since we think of them as accompaniments, but they all contribute towards excess calories in your diet.
If writing everything down in a diary sounds too painful for you, try using an app such as ‘My Fitness Pal’ instead. Tracking with a tool like this makes calorie counting a breeze.
3 Increase your protein intake
Increasing your food intake may seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to lose weight, but protein is a special case.
Firstly, protein supports muscle growth, so it will help you develop lean mass that’s more metabolically active. Secondly, it’s pretty much impossible to overeat on protein as excess amounts get excreted from the body.
This is different from carbohydrate and fat which both get stored (causing weight gain) if overeaten. Protein is also very filling so it’ll help you to feel less hungry, enabling you to stick with the habit long-term. Taking metabolism booster supplements like PhenQ can also help to control your appetite.
4 Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to increase your metabolic rate for a longer period of time than other types of exercise. This means your body burns more calories for longer after a HIIT workout. Most gyms now offer HIIT classes as part of their membership, but you can also create your own HIIT workout at home. Simply alternate short bursts (10-30 secs) of intense exercises like high-knees or burpees, with lower intensity activities like jogging or bicycle curls. It really is that simple!
5 Drink lots of water
Water is essential for your body to function at its best and one reason why is because it supports the metabolism. Hydrogen from water is used in numerous metabolic processes which allow you to break down fat into usable energy. So, being even slightly dehydrated can prevent you from losing weight (even if you’re doing everything else right).
In fact, many research studies have shown that drinking water is associated with weight loss, but nearly half of people aren’t consuming enough. Not only are they missing out on clearer skin and more energy, but it’s probably causing them to hang onto unwanted weight too. Get into the habit of drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning and then with meals throughout the day. This will ensure that your body is hydrated enough to metabolise fat into energy and allow you to lose weight.
Addressing a slow metabolism
Unless you’re suffering from a medical condition, it’s unlikely that you have a truly slow metabolism. But building up more muscle mass, trying high-intensity interval training, and ensuring adequate hydration are all great ways to give it a boost anyway. Keeping a food diary and consuming more protein can help you to address unconscious calorie consumption and reduce weight gain. This double-sided approach is the best way to ensure you hit the nail on the head right away.
Make it easier with metabolism booster supplements
If you feel that your body needs a bit more of a helping hand, then metabolism booster supplements like PhenQ can really help. Even if your metabolism is perfectly ok, taking PhenQ will push the body further into the fat loss zone. This can help you burn more calories at rest and shed unwanted pounds with more ease.
Do you have any tips for boosting a slow metabolism? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!