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What Slows Metabolism?

Updated: Feb 15

by Harmony Fitness/Ece, 9/ 2023

Understanding Metabolism: What it is and How it Works

Metabolism is the process by which food and drink are broken down into energy to sustain life. It's an ongoing process, even while sleeping, and is responsible for several key functions, such as:

  • Breathing

  • Circulating blood

  • Digesting food

  • Growing and repairing cells

  • Managing hormone levels

  • Regulating body temperature

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) pertains to the energy required to keep your organs functioning while resting. BMR is influenced by a variety of factors, including gender, age, height, and weight.

Those with a fast metabolism can consume more food and even burn calories while resting, making it easier to lose weight. Conversely, those with a slow metabolism require less food and more time to achieve weight loss.

What are the factors that slow down the metabolism?

4. Sleep

How to improve metabolism?

  • HIIT (High-intensity interval training ) / AMRAP (As many repetitions as possible)

Factors That Slow Down Metabolism

Metabolism is essential to maintain a healthy body, but several factors can slow it down. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Sedentary Lifestyle and Lack of Strength Training

As the saying goes, "iron that doesn't work rusts." Sitting for extended periods can lead to several health issues such as heart problems, diabetes, cholesterol, cancer, and increase the risk of other diseases. Sitting for more than ten hours a day can shorten our lifespan.

Unfortunately, remote work promotes a sedentary lifestyle, making it difficult to move around. If you sit all day, try to stand up for a few minutes every hour.

It's important to note that daily life activities like cleaning, running after children, watering plants, and using stairs instead of lift can burn calories too. The more you move and stay active, the faster your metabolism will be. You don't have to exercise every day, but being active for an hour of moderate/vigorous activity four times a week can help you maintain a healthy body.

Understanding METs (metabolic equivalent of task)– A Guide to Physical Activity

METs (metabolic equivalent of task) is the amount of energy used while sitting quietly. For example, walking at a moderate pace of 2.8-3.2 miles per hour (mph) on a level, firm surface is approximately 3.5 METs, which means that the body is using 3.5 times the amount of oxygen than is required when sitting still at rest. Here are some guidelines for physical activity by age and condition:

  • Children ages 3 through 5: A minimum of 3 hours of physical activity daily is recommended.

  • Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17: At least 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily with a combination of aerobic and strength movements.

  • Adults: At least 150 to 300 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, in addition to 2 days weekly of muscle-strengthening exercises.

  • Older adults: Similar to adults, but balance training should also be included.

  • Women who are pregnant or postpartum: Aim for 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

  • Adults with physical disabilities and chronic conditions: Similar to adults, but the plan must be personalized to suit their unique needs.

Alternatively, strength training increases muscle mass, making it easier to burn calories and boost the resting metabolic rate. As we age, muscle mass decreases by around 3-8% per decade after age 30, and this rate accelerates even further after age 60.

can exercise improve metabolism

A study has found that overweight young adults who were previously sedentary saw a significant increase in energy expenditure after 6 months of doing 11 minutes of strength training three times a week. Strength training not only boosts your metabolism, but it also prevents muscle loss and obesity. Additionally, everyday activities such as carrying your baby, moving heavy items, and carrying a laundry basket will become easier as you become stronger. Check out my programs like Express or Full Body Workout that only require 10 minutes a day to get started.

2. Diet

Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss Journey

When it comes to losing weight, there are a few things to avoid that can hinder your progress. Here are some of the mistakes to avoid:

  • Cutting Calories Suddenly and in Excess: Sudden calorie cutbacks or fasting can have negative effects on your appetite control hormone, leptin. This protein hormone is responsible for regulating metabolism and appetite. It decreases fat storage when you gain weight. However, if you have a lot of fat, your leptin production will decrease, making it difficult to lose weight. Leptin tells you when to stop eating, while ghrelin signals when to begin.

  • Night Time Eating: Consuming food late at night can disrupt your metabolism and lead to weight gain.

  • Skipping Meals: Skipping meals can cause your body to use muscles instead of energy from food to produce energy. This can cause muscle loss and a slower metabolism.

It's important to maintain a balance in your diet and avoid these behaviors to succeed in your weight loss journey.

Healthy Eating Habits: Alternatives to Consider

Instead of consuming large quantities of unhealthy fats, try incorporating moderate amounts of good fats into your diet. These will help keep you satiated and promote weight loss. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy carbohydrates are also excellent options to consider. To combat hunger throughout the day, proteins are a great source to keep you feeling full.

Late-Night Eating and its Impact on Hunger and Appetite-Regulating Hormones

Studies indicate that eating late at night can influence hormones that regulate hunger and appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin. According to the research, leptin levels dropped by 16% when test subjects ate four hours later. Suddenly reducing calorie intake can lead to starvation and subsequent late-night snacking, causing weight gain due to slower metabolism.

Eating late at night can disrupt a healthy daily routine in several ways, including poor sleep, skipping breakfast, unhealthy food choices, lack of exercise, and more. These habits can contribute to weight gain and negatively impact overall well-being. Remember, good order and success require a healthy lifestyle.

eating late night and weight gain

"Try Eating Earlier for Three Months" Challenge

Are you looking to make a simple change to your diet? Here's an easy-to-follow approach: picture your diet as a pyramid, with a big breakfast being the most important meal of the day, and a smaller dinner. It's ideal to give your body 12 hours of rest and repair time overnight. Additionally, snacking every 3-4 hours can help keep your metabolism up. Personally, I avoid eating anything after 7 p.m. This routine has worked for me for years. Give it a try for three months and let me know how it goes!

  • Too Much Sugar

The Adverse Effects of Consuming Too Much Sugar

  • Insulin levels are raised and glucose is stored as visceral fat in the abdomen when too much sugar and refined carbohydrates are consumed.

  • Inflammation and a decrease in the body's ability to perform functions such as insulin balance, energy supply, or sleep are caused by excessive glucose in the body. This leads to a slowdown in metabolism.

Sugar is addictive, and it's commonly found in processed foods and drinks. For example, orange juice contains 24g (6 spoons) of sugar, which is equivalent to 5-6 oranges. Additionally, fruit juices do not provide satiety, unlike eating six oranges at once, which would be impossible. If you're thirsty, opt for water instead of sugary drinks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that total sugar intake should not exceed 10% of the daily energy intake, and that added sugars should be limited to less than 5%. Added sugars include monosaccharides, disaccharides, and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation.

Eliminate Sugar Cravings with Fruit and Balanced Indulgence

Did you know that consuming enough fruit each day can help you overcome your sugar cravings? While it's wise to avoid added sugar, don't deprive yourself too much. The more you avoid something you love, the more you will desire it.

Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with low-calorie, fat-free desserts like dark chocolate or pudding. For example, you can prepare a delicious pudding (1 cup/240gr= 300 calories) at home by adding banana, milk, and just a little flour, cocoa, and coconut. This light and satisfying dessert can help you avoid a sugar crisis, instead of consuming a heavy treat like donuts (74 gr=454 calories).

Are you ready to try living without sugar for 21 days and see the difference?

sugar intake

Daily sugar intake recommendations for adults. WHO, World Health Organization.

harmony fitness blog

(A) Amount of sugar intake through processed foods by age group. (B) Distribution of main sources of sugar in beverages.

3. Hormones

Hormonal imbalances can cause weight gain, and these hormones are essential to our body's normal functioning. Living habits, environmental factors, or medical conditions can all disrupt these hormones. Our bodies contain more than 50 hormones, including insulin, cortisol, melatonin, estrogen, thyroid, and others.

If you've been dieting and exercising for a while without seeing results, or if you're not getting enough sleep or feel tired despite getting enough sleep, it's a good idea to have your hormone levels checked. Additionally, if you're constantly stressed, try to avoid stress and clear your mind by practicing mindfulness or hypnosis.

In other words, all of these factors are interconnected: getting a good night's sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding stress can all help you achieve a healthy body and maintain proper hormonal balance.

4. Sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining proper body function, repairing the brain and muscles after exercise, and regulating metabolism. Deep sleep, in particular, is critical for the fat-burning process. Hence, it's recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every day. Sleeping for short periods and waking up in the middle of the night, regardless of the cause (such as stress or other factors), can lead to exhaustion during the day and has been linked to obesity and diabetes.

sleep cycle

Circadian rhythms are an internal clock that regulates the body's physical and mental functions in response to the sun's rays. Maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is essential for proper metabolism. Check out the image below to learn more about how to apply this knowledge to your daily life.

circadian ryththm

Improving Sleep to Achieve Weight Loss

Did you know that social media usage or exposure to technology before bed can disturb your sleep pattern? In fact, this can lead to attention deficit and poor decision-making. Additionally, when you are sleep-deprived, you tend to crave late-night snacks and high-calorie foods.

Here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sleep and reduce weight:

  • Establish a regular sleep routine by sleeping and waking up at the same times every day, even on weekends.

  • Avoid using technology one hour before bedtime.

  • Use your bed only for sleeping.

  • Incorporate regular exercise into your routine.

  • Opt for light meals for dinner.

  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm.

  • Try drinking Turkish Ayran at dinner.

Turkish Ayran Ingredients

Yogurt, Water, Salt, Dried Mint (optional)

How to Make Ayran: A Refreshing Yogurt Drink

Here's how to make it:

  • Begin by adding two spoons of yogurt to a glass of water or mixing bowl.

  • Add a pinch of salt and mix for a few seconds.

  • For a denser consistency, increase the amount of yogurt.

  • Sprinkle some mint on top and serve.

But beware, Ayran may cause drowsiness.

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Benjamin Franklin

5. Stress

Managing Stress for a Healthier LifeStress is an inevitable part of our daily lives, and it can have negative consequences on our bodies - particularly causing weight gain by slowing down metabolism. Cortisol is a hormone that helps us deal with everyday stressors by initiating the fight-or-flight response. However, excess cortisol that isn't used properly can lead to serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes mellitus.

When it comes to dealing with stress, it's better to "fly" (in your mind) than to fight. Fighting stress can lead to negative health outcomes, while ignoring it can bring peace. Consider setting aside 5-10 minutes each day to help clear your mind and manage stress, such as meditating, walking or doing some activity.

How to improve metabolism?

1. Exercise (being physically active)

  • HIIT (High-intensity interval training ) / AMRAP (As many repetitions as possible)

The amount of energy expended by the body from fat and carbohydrates during exercise is dependent on various factors including exercise intensity, duration, training status, and diet. Studies have shown that moderate-intensity exercise is most effective for achieving maximum fat oxidation rates.

In contrast, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise where high-intensity exercises (>90% VO2 max) are performed for 30-40 seconds, with a 10-second rest period between each exercise. After completing the exercises, there is a 60-second rest period. Another form of exercise is AMRAP, where 4 exercises are repeated as quickly as possible within a certain period (usually 8-20 minutes) without resting.

If you're looking to lose fat, increase endurance, build strength, and gain some muscle, high-intensity workouts might be the solution you need. With just a 10-15 minute commitment three times a week, you can prevent weight gain or reduce your weight, making it an ideal option for those who struggle with consistency.

Not a fan of cardio or running for long hours? No worries - high-intensity workouts offer a great alternative. Choose a training routine that suits your lifestyle and can be maintained in the long time, and you can achieve great results without the need for excuses to stop.

Aside from the physical benefits, high-intensity workouts can also improve your cardiorespiratory system, thereby protecting you from cardiovascular diseases. They can also boost your mental health, self-confidence, and produce endorphins that help alleviate stress and improve your mood.

Sample of Amrap & HIIT


- 10 Lunge

- 10 Shoulder Press

- 10 Squat & Kick Back

- 20 Reverse Crunch

HIIT (20sec x 15sec)

- High Knee

- Burpees

- Skater

- Side Planks with Rotation

- Standing Punches

- Flutter Kicks

2. Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet can provide numerous health benefits, such as disease prevention and obesity management. To achieve optimal health, it's essential to consume all macronutrients in balanced proportions. The recommended intake is 55%-65% carbohydrates, 7%-20% protein and 15-30% fat. Taking this step can significantly improve your overall quality of life.

loss weight at home

Food balance wheels. Adapted from the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean Nutrition Society.

  • The Amazing Benefits of Drinking Water and Flavored Mix-ins

Water is a vital component for our bodies to function properly. Drinking at least 2 liters a day, which can be achieved by consuming a glass of water every hour, can speed up your metabolism by up to 25%. Staying hydrated can give you energy during workouts and aid in muscle growth. In addition, it can help suppress hunger and keep your skin looking great. To add some flavor, try adding fruits, lemon, cucumber, or other mixes.

Apple cider vinegar, lemon, and turmeric have countless benefits for our health. They help with digestion, inflammation, and have a relaxing effect on the chest and throat. Drinking them on an empty stomach in the morning can speed up your metabolism and give you more energy throughout the day. Even though the taste may not be pleasant, give it a try for a month and feel the difference!

Protein: A Crucial Component in Every Meal

  • Protein is essential for building muscle, preventing muscle loss, and strengthening bone structure.

  • The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

  • For strength athletes, the joint American College of Sports Medicine and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position statement recommends 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg, while endurance athletes require 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg.

  • However, it's important to note that too much protein can be harmful. Overconsumption of protein can lead to bloating and the excess protein won't convert into energy, instead it will turn into fat.

  • A balanced intake of all macronutrients is recommended for every meal.

  • Overconsumption of protein, whether from food sources or supplements, may cause dehydration and have negative impacts on the kidneys and bones.

  • To ensure a balanced protein intake, divide your total daily protein amount by three and add it to each meal. For instance, if you have 80g of protein for a day, you can divide it into 20-30-30g.

How do we get 30g of protein:

135g chicken 150g beef 180g white fish

170g prawns 5 whole eggs 375g natural yoghurt

130g tuna (drained weight) 250g cottage cheese 600ml milk

35g whey 160g black bean (dry) 400g rice

100g soy 100g lentil (dry) 230g oat or quinoa (dry)

1450g potato

The Benefits of Coffee and Green Tea for Weight Loss

  • Coffee/ Green Tea

Both coffee and green tea have immense benefits when it comes to losing weight. Green tea, for example, contains between 100 and 300 mg of total catechins and 50 and 90 mg of caffeine per standard cup (250 mL). Catechin helps to speed up metabolism, and a study conducted in China with 109 people found that green tea catechins led to a reduction in visceral fat after 12 weeks without any changes in diet or physical activity.

Similarly, coffee and green tea produce a thermogenesis effect that provides the body with more energy. Some studies have shown that this heat burns more calories even while resting, while coffee can help with weight loss if consumed before training.

Furthermore, research indicates that both coffee and green tea can prevent diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer's disease, as well as reduce inflammation.

However, it's important to consume coffee in moderation as it can lead to weight gain if too much sugar is added or if it interferes with sleep. Counting calories and choosing low-calorie options such as black coffee can be an excellent foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

3. Sleep

As previously mentioned, getting enough sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy body. Click here to learn more. In summary, our bodies require 7-9 hours of rest each night to improve our overall quality of life. Skipping this important step may have serious consequences.

In conclusion, this article provides a comprehensive summary of the key factors that contribute to a healthy metabolism.

If you have any insights or suggestions to help speed up your metabolism, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm always interested in hearing your thoughts.


LADIES' Online Personal Trainer

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