Habits that slow down your metabolism.

It is a generally accepted fact that your metabolism slows as you age. Recent studies published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal backs this up with science. There are however other habits that you may have that increase this slowing. Drop some of these habits to take the fight back to the ageing process.

Skipping Breakfast.

During sleep the metabolism slows, breakfast is known to kick start it again. Though potentially counter intuitive, eating first thing in the morning can actually cause you to burn more calories during the day. When you eat breakfast you are letting your body know that there are many calories coming throughout the day, thereby telling it to start burning them. If you skip breakfast you are instead saying to your body that it should conserve energy as it may not be getting fed.

Choosing the wrong breakfast though, can also be a mistake. Try to avoid having an overly sugary breakfast a this will likely cause you to crash later in the day. Try going for a high protein or fibre breakfast such as eggs or whole-wheat toast.

Sitting too much.

Spending long periods sat down not only causes problems in that it does not allow you to get much exercise; it is also thought to directly lead to a slower metabolism. If you work in a sedentary job, sat at a desk all day, try to get up and have a bit of a walk every hour or so. Similarly, consider whether you need to go from couch to car or if you could instead walk to your destination.

Too little protein.

Protein is very important for your muscles, it is the food they need to maintain themselves. Muscle is very important to metabolism, in fact, it is known that metabolism is directly linked to muscle mass. A pound of muscle burns around 4-6 more calories per day than a pound of fat. Therefore it is a no-brainer to keep your muscles in tip-top shape, this means giving them all the protein they need. If you are finding it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, or build muscle mass, consider whether you are getting enough protein in your diet.

A lack of water.

As I have mentioned before, water is miraculous in what it can do to our bodies. Researchers have found that 500 millilitres of water can increase metabolic rate by up to 30%, with that spike lasting over an hour. Keeping yourself hydrated also comes with this calorie burning benefit.

Stress.

Stress can cause all manner of problems, not least a reduction in metabolic rate. This reduction is caused by the increase in Cortisol that comes from higher levels of stress. Cortisol increases our cravings for sugary foods, and decreases our motivation to exercise. Both of these, as already discussed, have a direct bearing on our metabolic rate. So, although stress does not itself decrease the metabolism, it leads to behaviours that are known to.

Although it is not always easy easy to control stress levels, and no-one gets stressed because they want to; managing stress can really help boost your metabolism.

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The benefits of water. According to science.

The human body is roughly 60% water. The common recommendation is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This particular figure does not have a great deal of science behind it, staying hydrated is however important.

Here are a selection of evidence-based health benefits of staying hydrated.

Maximum physical performance.

Physical performance can suffer greatly from a lack of hydration.

During intense exercise or while exercising in high heat this is even more the case.

Losing as little as 2% of your body’s water content can have a noticeable effect on you. It is not uncommon for athletes to lose anywhere up to 10% of their water weight through sweating, therefore adequate hydration is vital.

Even though the body as a whole is 60% water, muscle is around 80%, so water intake is far more important when the muscles are being worked hard.

Help with weight loss.

Drinking half a litre of water has been shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to an hour and a half after drinking it.

That means that drinking 2 litres of water a day can up your energy expenditure by almost 100 calories per day.

Drinking water half an hour before a meal has been shown to decrease the the amount of food you eat at meal times by making you feel fuller. In one study, dieters who drank half a litre of water before meals lost an average of 44% more weight over the course of 12 weeks.

For the biggest benefit, water should be drunk cold. This way the body burns more calories to heat the water to body temperature.

Brain function.

Fluid loss of as little as 1.3% has been shown to impair brain function. Especially affected are concentration and mood. Other studies have shown that similar levels of fluid loss have had a detrimental affect on working memory and increased feelings of fatigue and anxiety.

Loss levels this low are to be expected in just day to day life, if putting high heat and exercise into the mix it is clear that improper hydration can have big effects on your health.

Further reading.

Below are some links to some of the studies and evidence mentioned in this post.

NCBI – Hydration and physical performance

NCBI – Water, Hydration and health

NCBI – Dehydration influences mood and cognition

NCBI – water induced thermogenesis

Nutrition.org – Healthy hydration guide