Whether you've been gaining weight, plateauing on the scales, or just feeling a little sluggish, there's a number of reasons your metabolism could be slowing down. We found out where we've been going wrong and how to rev back up:
1. Skipping breakfast
Turns out waking up and not putting any fuel in your engine is one of the most damaging—and common—mistakes. "Starting the day right is key to revving up your metabolism and keeping you energized throughout the morning," Lindsey Passaic, Wellness Coach at VitalityHealth, explains. "A nutrient-rich breakfast will also prevent you from reaching for unhealthier alternatives when your stomach starts to rumble."
She suggests healthy breakfast options like omelettes, oats, or wholemeal toast, but if you're more of a grab-and-go type of gal, you can prep portable feasts like smoothies or granola bars in advance.
2. Yo-yo dieting
It's not just cutting out breakfast that's a problem—your overall food intake has an impact, too. Lindsey warns that slashing your calories and yo-yo dieting can impact your metabolism, as well as your health, long term, adding that "weight loss and body maintenance is better addressed by introducing changes that focus on food choice as well as eating habits and behaviors."
Rather than crash dieting when there's a big event on the horizon, you need to get your head in the game long term—following a sensible diet and exercise regime on the reg is much better for you than dropping 10 pounds for your friend's wedding and then diving headfirst into the cake on the day.
3. Not drinking enough water
According to Lindsey, drinking two liters of water a day will work wonders for your metabolism. "If you struggle to consume enough, try marking times on your water bottle for a little extra encouragement and guidance," she suggests. "This will not only keep your metabolism on track but will help to clear your skin too."
4. Choosing the wrong hot drinks
Not content with overhauling our cold beverage options, Lindsey thinks we should be switching up our daily tea and coffee regime, too. "Drinking too many caffeinated drinks can become unhealthy, especially if you're opting for caramel lattes or other hot drinks high in sugar," she says. The alternative? Green tea: "Aside from being filled with antioxidants, it also contains an active ingredient, catechin, which has been found to speed up metabolism."
Basically, now would be a good time to jump on the matcha bandwagon—but if you're not a fan of such strong-tasting teas, try hot drinks infused with fruit instead of sweetened options, as these are still a healthier choice.
5. Sleeping badly
Many experts believe that a lack of sleep leaves us prone to gaining weight, and while it’s not as simple as sleeping all day being a fast track to skipping a dress size, there does seem to be a correlation between a solid slumber and a healthy metabolism.
In fact, in 2012, scientists showed that just one bad night can leave us craving unhealthy, fatty foods and leave our metabolism less equipped to cope with them, particularly if we're opting for carbs, as tiredness can affect our glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
6. Sitting down all day
Office jobs don't give you much of a choice, we know, but a British study found that standing up at work could help to boost your metabolic rate, meaning you can burn up to 50 calories an hour more than sitting.
You don't even have to do it for your full eight hours—spending the morning standing could cut as many as 200 calories, which in turn give you more scope to eat healthy snacks like Greek yogurt, veggies and hummus, or a generous handful of nuts (or unhealthy ones like an entire Kit Kat, if you're so inclined) without piling on the pounds.
7. Getting stuck in a rut when you do work out
Lindsey states that it's important to keep your fitness routine fresh. "Whether you're a cardio fanatic or a yoga queen, doing the same exercise week in, week out means your body gets used to the activity and can result in fewer calories being burned." She recommends high intensity interval training or HIIT as a great way to mix things up and get you burning calories at a rapid rate. "HIIT is thought to be one of the most effective methods of improving fitness, building muscle, and burning fat," she says—and the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate tends to be.
"Not knowing your body can set your metabolism off balance," Lindsey concludes. "Nutrition, wellness, and weight loss can be more complex than simply monitoring your calorie intake versus calories burned. You can set your metabolism off balance if you don't understand how exercise and diet can impact your health. Try speaking to a nutritionist, personal trainer, or even your GP. They'll be able to advise you on the factors that will give you back control over your metabolic rate and weight."
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.