Food & Nutrition

12 Everyday Habits That Secretly Slow Your Metabolism

The last thing you want to do is stand in the way of your body burning calories. So the first thing you should do is not make these metabolism-slowing mistakes again.

You eat breakfast closer to brunch time

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Mornings in your house are bananas. We get it. Between getting the kids to school on time and yourself to work on time—and the 3,000 things required to make those two feats happen—you’re lucky if you can sneak in a sip of OJ before your first meeting. But when you’re sleeping, you’re not eating, and after all those hours with no nutrients, your metabolism—the process by which your body converts food and drinks into energy—needs a little jump-start. To get your calorie-burning engine going, have breakfast within a hour of waking up—or even better, within 15 minutes, says Joanne Rinker, MS, RD, senior director for community health improvement at Public Health Improvement Partners. Here are some other easy ways to jump-start your metabolism.

You have cereal instead of an omelette

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It takes your body more time to digest protein, so eggs will keep you feeling fuller longer than if you pour yourself a bowl of carbs in the morning. Opting for the omelette (or Greek yogurt parfait or overnight oats) may also give your metabolism a little boost. To digest, absorb, transport, and store the food you eat, your body uses calories, and protein needs more energy to metabolize than fat or carbs, says Tammy Lakatos Shames RD, certified fitness trainer and co-author of Fire Up Your Metabolism. Plus, researchers at Purdue University found that diets higher in protein may help preserve lean body mass, which is most directly related to having a fast metabolism. Your best bet: Have a serving of protein with every meal. Try one of these high-protein breakfast ideas.

You stopped drinking coffee

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True, java had a bad rep for a while, but more and more research shows that good can come out of consuming moderate amounts of coffee. It may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, certain neurological disorders, and even type 2 diabetes. And drinking caffeinated coffee can cause a temporary—but significant—increase in metabolism, says Kristen Gradney, RDN, director of nutrition and metabolic services at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The caffeine gets absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly, speeding up heart rate and providing that metabolic boost. So if you want a cuppa in the morning, and even in the afternoon, enjoy: Three to five cups a day can be part of a healthy diet, say government guidelines. The catch: Keep your coffee as simple as your taste buds can take. Too many added calories from sugary syrups and fatty cream can outweigh the health benefits.

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