Habits that may be slowing down your metabolism

When it comes to losing weight, we are all aware that healthy eating and exercising regularly play a role in optimal weight loss.

However, while these things are relatively easy to control, certain factors like genetics and metabolic rates are harder to predict and understand.

This is a list of general habits that have been proven to slow your metabolism down.

Stressing out

When you are stressed, your body produces a chemical known as cortisol. While a slight increase in cortisol could be beneficial to spur you on when you are trying to meet deadlines, overly-elevated amounts of it could potentially slow down your metabolism.

This is because cortisol reduces protein uptake, which, in the long run, could lead to the reduction of lean muscle mass.

High cortisol levels also encourage your body to store fat in your belly area in response to stressful situations.

You don't drink enough water

According to a study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, drinking enough water increases the metabolic rate of men and women by about 30 per cent.

The same study also suggests that mild dehydration could slow the body's metabolism by as much as 3 per cent.

You're not eating enough calories

Eating less is often associated with losing weight, but not eating enough calories could also mean the loss of muscle mass and a decrease in metabolic rate.

When you don't eat enough, your body responds to the lack of energy given to it by going into "starvation mode", when your body works to store fat to protect itself.

In a study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, not eating enough calories over a period of 12 weeks could cause your metabolism to slow down by as much as 24 per cent.

You are lacking iron

This is especially important for women on their periods.

Iron is a critical nutrient that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Without oxygen, your body works harder to function, resulting in you feeling lethargic and fatigued.

When this happens, your body enters fight mode and again, stores fat to protect itself.

You skip strength training

The creation of lean muscles through strength training helps to boost metabolism.

So pencil in weight training at the gym or kick-start a body-weight workout right in the comfort of your own home.

This article first appeared in Shape (