Keeping your metabolism high is crucial for losing weight and keeping it off. However, several common lifestyle mistakes may slow down your metabolism. On a regular basis, these habits could make it hard to lose weight and even make you more prone to gain weight in the future.
Here are mistakes that can slow down your metabolism.
1. Eating too few calories
Eating too few calories can cause a major decrease in metabolism. Although a calorie deficit is needed for weight loss, it can be counterproductive for your calorie intake to drop too low. When you dramatically lower your calorie intake, your body senses that food is scarce and lowers the rate at which it burns calories.
2. Skimping on protein
Eating enough protein is extremely important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
The increase in metabolism that occurs after digestion is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).
The thermic effect of protein is much higher than that of carbs or fat. Indeed, studies indicate that eating protein temporarily increases metabolism by about 20–30% compared to 5–10% for carbs and 3% or less for fat (Trusted Source).
Although metabolic rate inevitably slows during weight loss and continues to be slower during weight maintenance, evidence suggests that higher protein intake can minimize this effect.
In one study, participants followed one of three diets in an effort to maintain a 10–15% weight loss.
The diet highest in protein reduced total daily energy expenditure by only 97 calories, compared to 297–423 calories in people who consumed less protein (Trusted Source).
Another study found that people needed to eat at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.2 grams per kg) to prevent their metabolism from slowing during and after weight loss (Trusted Source).
3. Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Being sedentary may lead to a significant decrease in the number of calories you burn every day.
Notably, many people have lifestyles that mainly involve sitting at work, which can have negative effects on metabolic rate and overall health .
Although working out or playing sports can have a major impact on the number of calories you burn, even basic physical activity, such as standing up, cleaning, and taking the stairs, can help you burn calories.
This type of activity is referred to as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
One study found that a high amount of NEAT could burn up to 2,000 additional calories per day. However, such a dramatic increase is not realistic for most people (Trusted Source).
Another study noted that watching TV while sitting burns an average of 8% fewer calories than typing while sitting — and 16% fewer calories than standing (Trusted Source).
Working at a standing desk or simply getting up to walk around several times per day can help increase your NEAT and prevent your metabolism from dropping.
4. Not getting enough high-quality sleep
Sleep is extremely important for good health.
Sleeping fewer hours than you need may increase your risk of a number of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and depression (Trusted Source).
One study found that healthy adults who slept 4 hours per night for 5 nights in a row experienced a 2.6% decrease in resting metabolic rate, on average. Their rate returned to normal after 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep (Trusted Source).
Lack of sleep is made worse by sleeping during the day instead of at night. This sleep pattern disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms, or internal clock.
A five-week study revealed that prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian rhythm disruption decreased resting metabolic rate by an average of 8% (Trusted Source).
5. Drinking sugary beverages
Many of the negative effects of sugar-sweetened beverages can be attributed to fructose. Table sugar contains 50% fructose, while high-fructose corn syrup packs 55% fructose.
Frequently consuming sugar-sweetened beverages may slow down your metabolism.
In a 12-week controlled study, overweight and obese people who consumed 25% of their calories as fructose-sweetened beverages on a weight-maintaining diet experienced a significant drop in metabolic rate (Trusted Source).
Not all studies support this idea. One study noted that overeating high-fructose corn syrup compared to whole wheat did not affect 24-hour metabolic rate (Trusted Source).
6. A lack of strength training
Working out with weights is a great strategy to keep your metabolism from slowing.
Strength training has been shown to increase metabolic rate in healthy people, as well as those who have heart disease or are overweight or obese (Trusted Source, Trusted Source, Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
It increases muscle mass, which makes up much of the fat-free mass in your body. Having a higher amount of fat-free mass significantly increases the number of calories you burn at rest (Trusted Source, Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
Even minimal amounts of strength training appear to boost energy expenditure.
In a 6-month study, people who performed strength training for 11 minutes per day, 3 days a week, experienced a 7.4% increase in resting metabolic rate and burned 125 extra calories per day, on average (Trusted Source).