Keeping your weight in check is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re struggling to shed the pounds, your slow metabolism may be the culprit. Metabolism is defined as the speed your body turns the calories you consume into energy. The faster it is, the easier you’ll find it to lose weight and keep it off. People with naturally high metabolisms are blessed with good genetics, but there are several ways you can rev up a slow metabolism. Making effective changes to your diet, exercise routine and lifestyle can boost your metabolic rate and help weight loss.
The role your metabolism plays in weight loss
Your ability to lose weight is mostly determined by your metabolism, aka how fast or slow you burn calories. If you’re eating less calories than you burn, you lose weight. If you’re eating more calories than you burn, you gain weight. But what determines your metabolic rate? Your current weight, diet, exercise and sleep all contribute to your metabolic rate. Metabolism also slows down with age. Sometimes, a slow metabolism is the result of an underlying health issue, such as an underactive thyroid, which needs treatment with medication.
Boosting your metabolism
To lose weight, you should make your metabolism as efficient as possible. While regular, high-intensity cardio is great for your health and fitness levels, studies show that strength training is a more effective way of raising your metabolism. Strength training builds muscle. The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn throughout the day, long after your workout and even while resting. Building and maintaining muscle mass will combat declining metabolism as you age.
You can also raise your metabolism by eating the right foods. Focus on making high-quality sources of protein a diet staple. A protein-rich diet will help you burn fat and maintain muscle mass better than fats and carbohydrates. Always eat breakfast to kickstart your metabolism first thing in the morning and have small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugars steady and prevent insulin spikes.
Most importantly, don’t cut your calories too much. Your body will go into “starvation mode” and stop burning fat in order to conserve energy. The key is to eat as much as your resting metabolic rate, which is how many calories you burn when doing nothing all day—this will keep your metabolism ticking over while simultaneously achieving weight loss.
Jane Hopwood is a freelance writer and editor. She built her career on sports science and physical training, working in a range of companies before going solo. Seven years ago, she took a step back to spend more time with her growing family. She now lives with her husband, daughters, and her dog Rover.