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Metabolism Mistakes - 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Trying To Lose Weight

Are you making any of these common metabolism mistakes?

Many people who come in to see me are worried their metabolism is 'broken', however, it's likely they're just sabotaging their success with one of these common mistakes. The metabolism is highly complex and there are many factors that influence it and although genetics do play a role, our actions and behaviours have a significant impact on our metabolic health. Read on to learn more about these 5 metabolism mistakes and how to avoid them.

1 - Cutting calories too aggressively.

When you are trying to lose weight, it is important to be mindful of how many calories you are consuming. While it may be tempting to severely restrict your calorie intake in order to see results quickly, this can actually be counterproductive. Cutting calories too aggressively can cause your metabolic rate to slow down (metabolic adaptation), making it harder to lose weight. In addition, severe calorie restriction can lead to feelings of deprivation, which can make it more difficult to stick to your diet in the long run, leading to the dreaded Yo Yo diet.

Instead of crash dieting, aim to cut back on calories gradually and eat the most amount possible whit still in a calorie deficit. This way, you will be more likely to achieve sustainable weight loss. This is how metabolism testing can be so beneficial, ensuring that you eat the most amount possible and still lose weight.

2 - Not giving sleep enough attention

Sleep and stress can have a negative impact on your metabolism and weight loss. Sleep itself is unlikely to impact your metabolic rate, however studies show that sleep deprivation can alter glucose control (insulin resistance) and hormones involved in regulating metabolism. Poor sleep causes leptin levels to drop and ghrelin to increase. These two hormones affect hunger and satiety (how full you are) which can lead to unhealthy behaviours like overeating or binge eating. Furthermore, poor sleep can reduce your NEAT and activity the following day reducing your overall calorie expenditure (reducing your calorie deficit).

So if you're trying to lose weight, it's important to take care of yourself and get enough rest. By managing your sleep and stress levels, you'll be giving yourself the best chance for success.

3 - Not building muscle

Maintaining a healthy weight requires more than just cutting calories—it also requires exercise to build muscle. Muscle is important for weight loss and your metabolism because:

  • Increases in lean mass results in an increase in Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) (1)

  • An increases in muscle mass requires more energy to perform exercise, as well as increasing calorie burn after exercise has finished, which increases the total number of calories being burned during the day (2)

  • Resistance training can help with insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance - you can eat more bread :) (3)

Unfortunately, many people who are trying to lose weight only engage in activities that burn the most calories. While these activities do help to shed pounds, they can also lead to a loss of muscle mass if done too much. This collection of studies showed how combining cardio with weights can impair muscle growth by up to 30%!

To avoid this problem, it is important to eat enough protein and include strength-training in your workout routine.

4 - 'Dieting' for too long

When trying to lose weight, we know it is important to create a calorie deficit. While this can help you lose weight in the short-term, you can't be expected to do this forever. If you stay in a calorie deficit for too long, the adaptive component mentioned earlier on will hinder your weight loss efforts, unless you continue to reduce your intake or increase your expenditure through exercise. Additionally, being in a constant state of hunger can negatively impact your mood, sleep, energy levels and cravings. For these reasons, it is important to moderate your calorie deficit so that you can lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. This is also why you may want to adopt a phased approach to your dieting.

What is a phased approach?

A phased approach is a method of breaking your diet into periods of eating in a calorie deficit (dieting phase) and eating at a calorie balance (maintenance phase). A maintenance phase is practical way to give you a psychological but also a physical break from dieting. These maintenance phases of increased calories enable hormones (thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, testosterone) to reset to normal levels that can reduce hunger, cravings, increase energy levels, metabolic rate and improve training. This can result in better long term weight loss success.

From a psychological perspective, it also gives you a break from tracking and simply dieting. It’s not always fun eating in a kcal deficit!

We recommend dieting for around 12-16 weeks before adopting a maintenance phase that lasts around 6-12 weeks. The longer you diet for, the longer your maintenance phase should be. This will give your body plenty of time to recover before you choose to diet again.

5 - Only thinking about quantity not quality

Although a calorie deficit is key to lose weight, it is also important to focus on the quality of the foods you are eating. When trying to lose weight, many people focus on reducing their portion sizes without paying attention to the nutrient density of their diet. However, it is important to remember that foods with the same calorie content can have very different effects on your metabolism.

For example, two 100-calorie snacks can have different effects on your metabolism depending on their nutrient density. A snack that is high in protein and fibre, but low in sugar will have a very different effect on your body compare to a sugary snack with the same calorie content. The first snack will help to regulate your metabolism by stabilising blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling fuller for longer, whereas the second snack will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leading to hunger cravings. Research shows that these types of processed foods also increase how much you eat over a day (see below).

Additionally, studies show that foods that are highly processed have a lower thermic effect of feeding, meaning they require less calories to digest and absorb reducing how many calories you burn over the day. So when trying to lose weight, focus on eating quality foods that will help you reach your goals. By taking a holistic approach to weight loss, you’ll be more likely to see lasting results.

Next Steps

It’s clear that genetics do play a role in our metabolism, but it is not the only factor. Our actions and behaviours have a significant impact on our metabolic health. If you are looking to make changes to your diet and lose weight, then be sure to focus on quality over quantity, get enough sleep, engage in regular muscle mass building exercise and don’t diet for too long. These tips will help set you up for success and save you time, energy and frustration down the line.

If you want more tailored support based on your metabolism, consider investing in a nutrition coach to save you time, energy and frustration as you work towards your weight loss goals. With Ignite, we’ll take care of everything so all you have to do is do the work!

Find out more about Ignite today


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