“I’m doing everything right but the scales just aren’t moving!” If you’ve ever had thoughts like this and you are frustrated that all the changes you are making aren’t having any effect, it could well be your metabolism.
Our metabolism is a complex system of hormones and enzymes which amongst other things, help turn food into energy for the body to use. The transformation of food into energy is not only essential to maintain bodily functions and provide energy for daily activities, it also helps us to burn calories, lose excess pounds and maintain our weight on a long-term basis. Ideally, we should only consume as much energy as we expend, leaving our bodies in a state of energy balance. In reality this can be very difficult to achieve. Nutritional habits, stress levels and poor sleep patterns can all have a negative on our metabolic rate. If our metabolic rate is not functioning in an optimum way, there are ways of supporting it in order to lose those stubborn pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
Don’t go hungry
To lose weight successfully you must take in fewer calories than you expend. Losing weight by going hungry is almost always counter-productive, by doing so the body reacts by going into energy-saving mode and slows down all metabolic processes thus holding on to every single calorie in order to get what it needs. Nutritional deficiencies may become visible, as a result of the body not obtaining enough nutrients from the reduced supply of food and calories. Certain vitamins and minerals, for example, B6, B12 and zinc, are very important for a well-functioning metabolism*. A successful and healthy diet plan should therefore ensure that the body is receiving all the important nutrients it requires despite being in a calorie deficit and that metabolic activity remains at an optimal level throughout such a diet. Only in this way can successful long-term weight loss be achieved and maintained.
If you do not eat enough protein when dieting, you run the risk of losing muscle mass. This is because it is easier for the body to take the energy it requires from the muscles, instead of utilising fat reserves. Less muscle mass however, often means that our metabolic rate slows down even further. This is because muscle cells can effectively mobilise and break down energy-rich substrates (e.g. fats). That is why it is important in any diet to retain muscle mass in order to reduce fat mass and counteract the dreaded yo-yo effect. Consuming foods containing high-quality protein is fundamental to losing weight healthily and sustainably.
It is well known that endurance and strength training are good for the body and overall health. Even small increases to physical activity levels can help to improve metabolic function. Any effort to include more exercise in your day will have benefits. Park a little further from the entrance to the supermarket, take the stairs instead of the elevator or go for a short walk around the office during your lunch break. When combined with the nutritional tips above, even a small amount of exercise can have noticeable benefits.
A lack of sleep can negatively affect your hormones and cause stress resulting in a reduction in your metabolic rate. Ensure that you get at least 7-8 hours sleep a night. By doing so you will not only feel more energised and productive during the day, but according to scientific research on sleep, you may also increase your life expectancy.
* Almased contains vitamins B6 and B12 which supports metabolic activity and energy release.
Zinc contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism.
5. December 2017