Is your metabolism in good shape? A healthy metabolism takes the food we eat and converts it into energy each and every one of our cells and organs need to survive and function normally. Slow metabolisms, however, easily get all the blame for weight issues.
How can you keep that burning furnace inside you working efficiently? To some extent, our genetics can determine our metabolic rates. If your metabolism isn't what it could be, there is much you still can do to support a healthy metabolism.
One way is by increasing lean muscle mass. Muscle mass burns more calories per hour than fat. Therefore, one reason metabolism tends to slow down with age is because our muslce mass tends to decrease as we age. The best way to counteract this process is by maintaining a regular exercise regimen to slow down this decline.
While there is no magic food to rev up your metabolism, a healthy balanced diet that includes whole foods and quality ingredients provides your body with the raw materials it needs to keep all its metabolic processes running smoothly. Your diet can also support your efforts to build lean muscle mass if it provides high quality protein your muscles need to build and repair.
Here is an underestimated way to keep your metabolism running smoothly - sleep.
Throughout the past two decades, research has given scientists a deeper understanding of the internal circadian clocks that keep humans tuned to a 24 hour light-to-dark cycle. It turns out the body's circadian "clock" regulates more than just sleep and wake cycles. It regulates the expression of hundres of genes throughout the body, including many involved in metabolism. Therefore, poor sleeping habits can desynchronize the body's internal clocks and lead to metabolic problems.
One recent and interesting discovery is that many organs and tissues have circadian clocks of their own. When the body's main circadian clock is synced with the various organs' circadian "clocks", the body works together to maintain a healthy metabolism. Either of these "clocks", however, can be thrown off and desynchronized by disturbed sleep. Metabolic disturbances result. Not surprisingly, many studies of overnight shift workers reveal that they have an increased risk of weight gain and diabetes. 2
Now, however, overnight shift workers are not the only ones at risk. Light pollution and nighttime use of electronic devices can also contribute to disturbed sleep.
The bottom line: Respect your sleep. Yes, bad sleeping habits can disrupt your metabolism big time. In fact, one study found that it can slow down metabolism to such a large extent that it can translate to a 12.5 pound weight gain in one year. 3
Aside from disturbing metabolism, studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to increased appetite throughout the day and more frequent psychological eating. 4
We live in a sleep-deprived society. Before we shift all the blame on our metabolisms for any weight-related troubles, it may help to dig deeper at the underlying issue. What may be keeping our metabolisms from working their best? Yes, after diet and exercise stands the third pillar of health we cannot afford to neglect - sleep.
1. JAMA. Published online March 15, 2017. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0653
2. PLoS One. 2015; 10(7): e0133761.
3.Buxton, Orfeu M. et al. “Metabolic Consequences in Humans of Prolonged Sleep Restriction Combined with Circadian Disruption.” Science translational medicine 4.129 (2012): 129ra43. PMC. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
4. Int J Endocrinol. 2010; 2010: 270832.