After you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, making it easier to regain weight. Once you gain the weight back, the harder it is to lose again.
Your experience with weight loss and weight maintenance doesn’t have to be this way. If you know how to employ a few nutritional and lifestyle strategies, you may be able to optimize your metabolism.
But first, let’s briefly discuss the facts regarding metabolism: metabolism is the sum of all the chemical reactions occurring in your body. You can only do so much to drive it toward being more efficient. Changing your metabolism is no small task.
Optimizing your metabolism can help keep your weight off for good once you’ve lost it. Based on the science of food metabolism and energy balance, here are five ways to provide boosts to your metabolism and stop weight regain:
1. Pace Your Protein Intake
Because of its own inherent thermogenic effects, protein can increase your metabolism with every meal. Consider raising your protein intake and distributing it across meals throughout the day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner (1-2). By distributing protein over the course of the day, instead of getting most of your protein intake at dinner time, you’ll support greater muscle retention and growth to power your metabolism (1-2).
2. Work Out Daily
Combine resistance, aerobic, and flexibility training over several workouts per week. Try working your way up to five workouts per week with two to three aerobic workouts like running or biking and two to three resistance training sessions. Also, make sure to keep some form of stretching in your routine. Your objective is not solely calories burned, but to also boost your body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding (3).
3. Perform Routine Cleanse Days
A routine Cleanse Day isn’t just about limiting calories. Nutritional cleansing provides your body with a “reset” for your appetite, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Cleanse Days could also initiate a type of decluttering and recycling process called “autophagy” in your liver and in your body’s cells (4). Cleanse Days enable your body and metabolic processes to operate more efficiently.
4. Manage Daily Stress
Your level of stress, both emotional and psychological, can have just as much as an effect on your body and metabolism as sleep deprivation (4). With hormonal systems out of whack, your metabolism and insulin sensitivity is also affected for the worse (4). You’re also less likely to exercise, and more likely to eat more, which can throw you off your goals.
5. Sleep Well
Sleep is critical. Even a single interruption in your normal sleep pattern can have a detrimental effect on both fat metabolism and tissue recovery (6-7). It’s why a cup of coffee may be a great way to wake up in the morning, but stay away from it after a certain hour (6). Plan out your sleep and relaxation periods just as you would your workouts. By sleeping on a consistent schedule, you’ll support the release of important hormones like melatonin and growth hormone that help govern your metabolic rate on a daily basis (8).
Your energy levels, ability to work out, and weight loss or weight gain all depend on your body’s many metabolic processes. It’s really quite difficult to pin down what an optimal metabolism is, but using the strategies above, science suggests that your body will run more efficiently and you’ll more easily be able to avoid weight regain.
- Arentson-Lantz E et al. Protein: A nutrient in focus. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Aug; 40(8):755-61.
- Symons TB et al. A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep; 109(9):1582-6.
- Betts JA, Stokes KA, Toone RJ & Williams C. Growth-hormone responses to consecutive exercise bouts with ingestion of carbohydrate plus protein. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013 Jun; 23(3):259-70.
- Ravikumar, B et al. Regulation of mammalian autophagy in physiology and pathophysiology. Physiol Rev. 2010 Oct; 90(4):1383-435.
- Aschbacher K et al. Chronic stress increases vulnerability to diet-related abdominal fat, oxidative stress, and metabolic risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Aug;46:14-22
- Drake C, Roehrs T, Shambroom J & Roth T. Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013 Nov 15; 9(11):1195-200.
- Copinschi G, Leproult R & Spiegel K. The important role of sleep in metabolism. Front Horm Res. 2014; 42:59-72.
- Halson SL. Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep. Sports Med. 2014 May; 44 Suppl 1:S13-23.