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Tips for Supporting a Slow Metabolism

Posted on 03/22/2022 at 02:57 PM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

Have you ever wondered if you have a slow metabolism?  Did you know that there is a test that can be done to find out what your metabolism is?

At Iowa Weight Loss Specialists, we have many tools that we use to customize weight loss plans for our patients.  One very useful tool for patients at Iowa Weight Loss Specialists is the indirect calorimeter.  The indirect calorimeter is a test that assesses your metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns at rest. There are many online calculators that can roughly gauge how many calories you require, but indirect calorimetry provides an even more accurate assessment of your individual energy needs. Let your Iowa Weight Loss provider know if you are interested in a metabolic test, or “met test.” It is a simple breath test that takes 10-15 minutes but requires you to be fasting and temporarily avoid certain medications-we will discuss this with you when you schedule your appointment.

Your met test results show your REE, or Resting Energy Expenditure. This is the number of calories your body requires to function over a 24-hour period at rest. In addition to REE, you utilize energy for NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or typical daily tasks) and TEF (the Thermic Effect of Food, the energy required to digest and metabolize the food you eat). Lastly, you can burn extra calories through physical activity, or exercise.metabolism

There are a number of factors that play a role in determining a person’s metabolism, including body size, gender, age, and muscle mass. However, it is important to remember that your metabolism is not set in stone. Your met test results may show a slower than average metabolism, but there are steps you can take to work around it:

Increased Physical Activity & Resistance Training

There are many benefits to increasing the amount of movement or physical activity you do. It is the most variable element of TEE (Total Energy Expenditure) and is vital for maintaining weight loss. The easiest place to start is by simply reducing the amount of time you spend being sedentary. This can include things like taking the stairs instead of elevator or escalator, parking your car further away, avoiding modern conveniences like the drive-thru in favor of physically entering buildings, playing with your kids/pets, and standing up for a few minutes periodically throughout the day.

Resistance training and heavy lifting help to build muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, which can increase your overall metabolism. Our metabolism decreases as we actively lose weight, and building or maintaining muscle mass can help to offset that slowdown. HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, has also been shown to boost your metabolism even after you are done exercising. HIIT involves intervals of more intense and energetic exercise alternating with short periods of rest, and is a great strategy to get an effective workout if you are short on time.

Dietary Changes

Eating adequate protein each day (aim for a source at each meal) is vital to successful long-term weight loss. It is a satiating macronutrient, meaning it keeps you fuller longer. For example, think about how filling a 4 ounce chicken breast is compared to 4 ounces of potato chips. Remember the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) as part of the total amount of energy you burn throughout a day? Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fat, meaning it takes your body more energy to digest and metabolize protein. Getting enough protein in your diet also helps prevent excessive muscle mass loss when losing weight, which we know is important for maintaining a normal metabolism.

Other dietary tips that may help with metabolism include eating spicy foods (capsaicin is a compound often found in spicy foods like chili peppers) and drinking coffee and green tea (caffeine). In general, consuming an overall diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrient-dense macronutrients can help to ensure your body’s metabolism is working at its fullest capacity. Avoid skipping meals and crash diets that are extremely low in calories as they can also inhibit regular metabolism.

Drinking cold water may also be beneficial. One study showed that drinking half a liter of cold water increased participants’ REE by 10-30% for the following hour. The mechanism behind this may be that the body uses additional energy to raise the temperature of cold water up to body temperature.

Sleep and Stress

Sleep deprivation and chronic stress have negative effects on metabolism and cortisol hormone levels. Persistently elevated cortisol levels can have a number of effects in the body including increased likelihood of weight gain, fatigue, and increased blood sugar. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Consider meeting with an Iowa Weight Loss Specialists mental health provider to discuss strategies for effectively managing life stressors.

To learn more about Metabolic Testing with an indirect calorimeter, please click here.  

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