What’s killing your metabolism?

April 13, 2013

Think you’re doing everything right but just can’t seem to get the results you’re looking for? If you are breaking three or more of the following rules, you need to rethink your program, because you might be killing your own metabolism.

Not drinking enough water

One of the quickest ways to lose that bloated feeling we all experience is to drink enough water throughout the day. Sounds crazy, right, but what most people don’t realize is that if your body becomes dehydrated, it will hold onto old, stale water stores and prevent you from losing weight and body fat until water is readily available again, which is why the average person will lose 2-3 pounds just by drinking an average of eight to 10, 10-ounce glasses of water a day. Keep in mind this is only an average - if you are out in the sun, working out a lot or taking certain medications, you may need to drink even more water to stay hydrated.

Not eating enough food

Another way to smother the metabolic flame is by not eating enough food, forcing your body to prevent the release of calories to save in case of emergency. The best way to illustrate this point is by comparing the American lifestyle to the rapid weight gain of the Japanese sumo wrestler. Sumo wrestlers need to be extremely heavy to overpower their opponents and commonly reach weights of 500-800 pounds. They accomplish this by eating two huge meals a day, fooling the body into starvation mode. The average American wakes up, drinks coffee and doesn’t get his or her first meal until lunch and then doesn’t eat again until dinner, making our lives very similar and explaining why so many of us gain weight so easily.

Sleeping less than 8 hours a day

Recent studies found people who slept less than six hours a day were 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept a full seven to nine hours. Also, research linked lack of sleep to chemicals that increase appetite and reduce self-control, making for a dangerous situation for people who are trying to eat a healthy diet. In fact, people who get little sleep crave simple carbohydrates – sugar - which spikes insulin levels, wreaking havoc on your metabolism and destroying your body’s ability to burn fat, and adding lots of extra calories.

Eating processed foods

If your diet includes a lot of processed foods that are stored in cans or on the shelf, you may want to reconsider. Processed foods are very bad for our bodies because they are robbed of their fiber and loaded with lots of extra ingredients such as sodium, high-fructose corn syrup and chemicals that can cause serious health problems and may also be the main reason you are having trouble waking up your sluggish metabolism. It’s important to remember that many of these foods have been altered from their natural state and will cause major spikes in blood sugar levels, causing you to pack on the pounds. A good rule of thumb is if you read the ingredients and you can’t pronounce them, then don’t eat it.

Not getting enough protein

Protein is the building blocks of muscle, and without it the body cannot build, repair or maintain lean tissue. This means if you don’t eat enough protein, your program is not worth a hill of beans.

Also, lack of protein can cause higher insulin responses and increased hunger, causing you to binge and lose control of your appetite. Muscle is the metabolic engine of fat burn, so not eating enough protein would mean losing a valuable chance to supercharge your metabolism, burning fat and calories even when at rest.

So if you’re wondering why your hard work and sweat aren't producing results, take a long look at your lifestyle, because you may be your own worst enemy.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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