Losing weight, including belly fat, is quite challenging when you have a slow metabolism. It plays an extremely important role in the body. But first!
What is metabolism?
It’s known as a chemical process inside your body in which the food and drinks you consume are absorbed and utilized to produce the energy needed for daily activities and stores the remaining energy for later use.
If a metabolism is slow, it could mean that your body is storing more calories than it is burning because of the body’s reduced ability to metabolize food into calories and that could eventually lead to weight gain. This build up is mostly visible and concentrated on the belly and the lower abdominal area of your body.
It might surprise you but we burn most of our calories at rest for basic body functions like blood circulation, temperature regulation, breathing, digestion and all other life sustaining activities. This is called basal metabolic rate and according to an estimate, we burn between 65 and 80 percent of our calories for these basic body functions.
Some other factors that can affect metabolism are diabetes, depression, low oxygen in blood, starvation diets and muscle atrophy.
This leads us to a conclusion that while metabolism is important for weight loss, a major part of it is beyond our control because things like breathing and digestion are not in our control.
But still we can influence the rate at which calories are burned in at least three primary ways: by getting physically active, by increasing muscle to body fat ratio in the body because someone with 75 pounds of muscles will burn more calories than another person who has 110 pounds of lean muscle and lastly by eating metabolism boosting diet.
Research literature has linked lower resting metabolic rate with weight gain.
What is link between slow metabolism and belly fat?
Belly fat is already known to be the most stubborn fat to lose and having a slow metabolism can make it even harder and frustrating to lose belly fat because of the low energy expenditure.
There are factors which lead to your metabolism being slow naturally or with time. Sometimes, as you age, your metabolism will naturally slow down and that’s completely okay. It’s a completely natural process. However, there are things you can do to change your diet and maintain your metabolism.
There are many things which can help you to boost your metabolism, although you can’t control some factors like age, body size, gender and genes. Thus, to reduce fat with a slower metabolism can be incredibly difficult, but it’s not an impossible task. There are several ways to speed up the metabolism and get rid of belly fat.
How can you speed up your metabolism?
We discussed above that physical activity is only one part of the metabolism equation. It accounts for a very little portion of daily calorie expenditure. So if you count on just exercise to ramp up your metabolism, you will not gain much. However, the following tips will give you an edge for burning more calories when you have slower metabolism and want to boost it.
Fill Up on Soluble Fiber
Consuming soluble fiber triggers weight loss by giving our bodies a prolonged feeling of fullness. You should consume fresh fruits and vegetables to suppress your hunger and cravings and reduce your calories per day. Soluble fiber absorbs water inside the body and converts it into a type of gel. This gel slows the movement of food through your digestive system which results in slow down of digestion and an increased absorption of nutrients. Some examples of rich sources of soluble fiber are mentioned below.
- Flax seeds
Read up and start adding them to your daily routine to control those untimely cravings and boost your metabolism by staying fuller!
Say No to Alcohol
Cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your belly fat. High consumption of alcohol may be a risk factor for obesity in some people. Excess intake of alcohol may lead to alcoholic and fatty liver. It can damage your liver and most importantly, it affects the way your body metabolizes and stores fats and carbs. However, people with slow metabolism don’t need to give it up altogether, but have it in moderation. Excess intake will create problems for a slow metabolism and introduce more obstacles in your journey to lose belly fat.
Build More Muscles
Muscle mass is a key factor that is actually influencing your metabolic rate. Muscle cells require more energy than fat cells. By building more muscles will need more energy, so your body will eventually burn more calories to provide that energy.
Therefore, a person with more muscle cells than fat cells, tends to have a faster metabolism naturally because your body will need more energy so therefore to get that, it will speed up the digestion and metabolism by itself and burn extra calories. So, focus on building more muscles if you want to shed weight with a slower metabolism. This can be done by going for strength training more instead of other exercises.
Follow a High Protein Diet
Protein is a macro nutrient of your diet. Another way to speed up your metabolism is to add a good amount of protein to your diet. Skinless chicken, eggs, mushrooms, oats, turkey, beans, lentils, fish and tofu are some great lean sources of protein. It takes longer for your body to digest protein and you spend more energy for digesting them.
According to a study, people who consume more protein may have less abdominal fat. A higher protein diet causes our body to release the hormone PYY, which reduces cravings and suppresses our appetite and, will boost your metabolism. A study published in PubMed indicates that diets higher in protein tends to cause more weight and fat loss as compared to diets lower in protein.
However, also keep a watch on it so that you dont eat too much protein which has its own repurcussions.
Excess stress may result in fat gain around your waist and belly area. When you are in stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Higher cortisol levels slow down your metabolism which will result in an increase in appetite and cravings and therefore, more abdominal fat storage. So, you should minimize your stress if you want to lose fat.
Try to relax and take care of your health and which will in turn take care of optimum calorie consumption.
Exercise is an effective way to burn calories and reduce abdominal fat. Physical activity lowers blood sugar levels and reduces inflammation which improves metabolic process with excess abdominal fat. You should include activities like swimming or biking to get your heart rate up.
Thus, try to engage yourself in different workout patterns like strength training, cardio and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) when you want to shed weight with a slow metabolism. The more active you are, the more calories you will burn.
And as plus, physical activity is very effective at reducing blood pressure.
Consume Less Carbs
Consuming refined carbs results in excessive belly fat and many medical conditions. Refined carbs are present in foods like bread, pasta, rice, candies and most of all, sugar. You should replace refined carbs with healthy carb sources, such as whole grains, legumes and vegetables. Consumption of healthy carbs will improve your metabolic health and reduce your calorie intake at the same time.
When you cut carbs, your appetite goes down and you will lose weight eventually. If you reduce your carb intake to 50 grams per day your body goes into a state known as ketosis, a state in which it starts burning fats as its main fuel and appetite is reduced.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting enough sleep should be your major priority if you want to shed weight with a slow metabolism. Enough sleep is helpful in maintaining a healthy metabolic rate. Lack of sleep decreases the calories your body burns, disrupts your hormones and changes the way your body process sugar.
At the same time, sleep deficiency results in release of hormones ghrelin (hunger hormone) and decrease of leptin (fullness hormone). So, without enough sleep your brain will reduce leptin and raise ghrelin. A study published in PubMed explains that sleep deprivation is inversely related with metabolism.
Water is the most important component of our diet. Our body needs water to process calories. Fluid level in the body helps to breakdown fat. You cannot achieve your goal of weight loss and muscle gain without staying hydrated. Not drinking enough water will result in dehydration, which can lower your calorie burning rate. In the mode of dehydration some people confuse thirst with hunger and start eating unnecessarily.
People who consume water instead of sugary drinks are more successful at shedding weight. Similarly drinking water, a half hour before your meals will make you eat less. So, you should consume at least 8-10 glasses of water daily to remain hydrated and to lose weight.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Crash diets can hinder the process of weight loss and will slow down your metabolism. With these diets, our body uses muscle mass for energy instead of fat, thus slowing down your metabolic rate further. So, you should always opt for calorie deficit diet i.e., consuming fewer calories than our body burns. Just say no to crash diet and switch to healthier options and practice portion control.
Switch to Green Tea and Coffee
Green tea is considered as a very healthy beverage. If you want to lose weight with slower than normal metabolism, start consuming green tea and coffee. According to a study caffeine speeds up your metabolism and makes you more alert. Caffeine and EGCG are present in green tea and coffee.
Caffeine increases your metabolism and antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) helps in reducing belly fat. Most fat burning diets have caffeine as their main ingredient. Do try to add 2-3 cups of green tea and coffee in your daily routine along with exercise.
Add Fish in Your Diet
Fish is considered extremely healthy. It is an important source of lean protein and Omega-3. Omega 3 fats are thermogenic in nature, so they increase metabolism. An omega-3 fat helps to reduce visceral fat and protects your body from diseases. Your body will burn more calories digesting protein as compared to fat and carbohydrates.
Salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel are good sources of fatty fish. Try to consume 2-3 servings of fish in a week.
Avoid Trans Fats Foods
Trans fats are created when hydrogen is pumped into unsaturated fats. Trans fats are found in margarines, spreads and most importantly, packaged and instant foods. Trans fats harm your body by lowering the good cholesterol levels and elevating bad cholesterol levels. These are the unhealthy fats which might make your body prone to many diseases such as high insulin resistance, heart diseases and gain in abdominal fat.
Stay away from foods that contain trans fats and read the labels of packaged foods carefully before purchasing.
Add Lemon and Water
Bitter foods stimulate body’s digestive juices which kick start the digestion process in the body. During hyper digestion, body breaks down the food better and absorbs more nutrients, both of which aids you in maintaining a healthy weight and a flat stomach. So, start your day with lemon and water.
Avoid Fruit Juice and Sugary Beverages
Although fruit juices are healthy, their juice contains large amounts of sugar. These contain large amounts of fructose which results in building up more fat around your abdomen and liver. So, try to minimize intake of sugary drinks in your diet such as sugary sodas, fruit juices, and other high sugar sports drinks.
According to a study published in BMC nutrition, intake of sugar sweetened drinks with protein rich meal decreases metabolic efficiency resulting in more fat being stored.
Keep A Check on Thyroid Gland
Thyroid gland regulates your metabolic process in the body. Iron and selenium are responsible for the function of thyroid glands. By consuming diet low in iron and zinc, your thyroid gland will produce fewer hormones which will result in a slow metabolism and accumulation of fat in different parts of body. So, try to include iron rich foods for proper functioning of thyroid gland.
Add Chili Peppers and Spices in Your Diet
Some spices are beneficial in boosting a slow metabolism and help you to control portion. Similarly, chili peppers contain a chemical Capsaicin which is known for its appetite reducing properties. It increases the number of calories and fat your body burns. In spices, ginger is mostly consumed for reducing hunger levels and promoting feeling of fullness.
Lastly, Be Patient
Weight loss is never an easy thing to achieve. Your metabolism system will determine how fast or slow you will shed weight. Patience and consistency in diet and lifestyle are essential for reducing belly fat with a slow metabolism. It will take plenty of time and a lot of life style changes in the long run to make changes in your metabolic rate and boost fat loss.