If you’re the
victim child of a Jewish mother, you’re more than familiar with the rhetorical question, “Do you want to mess up your metabolism forever?” I skipped breakfast once when I was 16 and I’m still hearing about it. Little does my mom know, metabolisms are actually really complicated and cannot be “messed up forever” by skipping one single meal. Much like your boyfriend who insists that cargo pants are very much in fashion, your metabolism has to be trained to do what you want. For the sole purpose of proving my mom wrong expanding my knowledge about the human body, we linked up with Samantha Cassetty, RD, Director of Nutrition at The Healthy Mommy, to talk about the metabolism and what habits could be slowing yours down.
Before we dive into some hard science, I will explain what the metabolism is in layman’s terms. According to WebMD, the place I go to confirm I’m dying from my run-of-the-mill cold, “Metabolism refers to the process of converting food into the energy that allows your body to function. People who have a fast metabolism use up calories more quickly than those with slower metabolisms.” Yes, we all want a fast metabolism, but how the hell do we get one of those? Read on for ways your eating habits may be slowing your metabolism down, from an expert.
1. Picking The Wrong Breakfast
You are what you eat! Kidding…but, like, not really. Cassetty says, “One of the main issues I see is reaching for a carb-rich, protein-poor breakfast option. Common breakfast foods, like cereal, oatmeal, bagels, muffins, and even avocado toast don’t supply enough protein to repair muscle tissue that’s naturally broken down at night.” Your metabolism does its best work at night, which is why you usually wake up needing to spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom in the mornings. Just me? Cool! But it’s also why you need a solid breakfast. Cassetty continues, “In order to activate the repair process, you need a meal that provides adequate protein. If you skimp on this, over time, you’ll lose muscle tissue, which translates to a slowing metabolism.” So, okay, I guess we really do have to listen to what we’ve been told since middle school and eat breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day.
2. Eating Too Many Processed Foods
Your metabolism breaks down your food, but the speed at which it operates depends, in part, on what you eat. “Eating too many hyper-processed foods instead of whole foods will ultimately cause metabolic issues. Your body can more efficiently grab the energy (read: calories) from heavily processed foods, so if your diet is more heavily processed than whole, you might notice weight gain over time,” Cassetty says. These foods also don’t really fill you up, so you’re probably eating more of them. Cassetty also says, “When you eat whole foods, your body gets a slight metabolic edge by breaking the food down to grab the energy and nutrients it needs. In other words, you’re shortchanging your metabolism by making its job too easy.” I guess that’s why they call it Whole Foods? Everything makes sense now! For real, though, it should be obvious that foods with ingredients you can pronounce are better for you and your internal systems than say, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which are made with something called thiamin mononitratea, but you can never take knowledge for granted.
3. Eating Too Lightly
I feel like this is a “you already know the answer” situation. Cassetty explains, “Eating too lightly can slow down your metabolism because your body senses the food shortage and wants to hang on to its stores. Your body works better when it has the energy and nutrients it needs to thrive, and you’ll feel better and more energetic when you nourish it properly.” That’s not that surprising since we’ve all been told about “starvation mode” probably around the same time we discovered skipping breakfast. Just don’t do it!
I’m loving that the theme of this seems to be “eat food”. You don’t have to tell me twice. And, in fact, you can eat certain foods to help boost your metabolism. “I usually recommend including two of the three food groups at snack times, choosing a fiber-rich fruit or veggie (the carb group) along with a healthy fat or protein,” Cassetty says. It’ll be hard to give up my honey mustard and onion-flavored pretzels, but it’s for the greater good, I guess. Think of your metabolism as a car, but not like a Volvo or a Jeep. You’re a f*cking Maserati, and you wouldn’t put Kool-Aid in a Maserati, right? No, you’d put premium f*cking gas.
At the end of the day, everyone’s body is different, but regardless of that difference, limiting processed foods and not skipping meals is the move. You’ll feel better, look better and, most importantly, be able to talk about how healthy you are to people who really couldn’t give a sh*t. And that’s the best reward of all, isn’t it?
Images: Giphy (3); Tarutoa / Unsplash
Does bloating ruin you day, your evening, and your life in general? Do you often try to be a responsible adult and attempt to eat before binge drinking, only to find that your meal has sabotaged you into looking like a beached whale? Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the top 7 foods to eat before you head out drinking to AVOID the muffin top spillover and bubbly stomach that results from a bloated belly, so you can still rock that deep-V onesie. HOWEVER, these foods are still substantial enough so you won’t end the night face-down in a stranger’s toilet. Anyone who’s ever tried to take shots after only eating salad for dinner can relate. We just saved your life. You’re welcome.
Blah blah blah drinking is bad and can deplete your body of vitamins. So have a piece of grilled or roasted salmon before heading out which will keep you fuller, help prevent a terrible hangover, and keep the bloat at bay.
The avocado, the fruit we associate most with worship, is a great choice to prevent not being able to button your pants. Since it’s full of healthy fats and digested more slowly than carbs, it’ll keep you full without adding inches. So, whip up some fucking guacamole and have at it with like, not chips … which will bloat you.
Full of protein like literally everything else on this list, whipping up an omelet is a legit choice for your night on the town. Eggs are also full of cysteine, which, according to the internet, is an amino acid that gives your liver a boost, which, obviously, you’re gonna need.
Kind of random, but munching on a piece of grilled chicken before seeing how many shots you can take will take longer to digest (keeping you full), is lean protein (keeping you skinny), and will help curb some of the hangover pain tomorrow. Just make sure we’re not dealing with breaded or fried chicken … that’d be silly.
5. Hummus With Cucumbers
It doesn’t get more basic bitch than this, but your skinny stomach will thank you. Hummus is chock full of vitamins and protein, which will keep you full i.e. when you’re blackout you won’t crave a burrito bowl quite as hard. The tahini in the hummus can also help prevent hangovers, so win. Why cucumbers? Because they’re literally full of water and are one of the best things to help you stay hydrated AND non-bloaty.
6. Very Specific Fruit Salad
So we need to be fucking specific on this one. Make yourself a fruit salad with kiwi, honeydew melon, and bananas. The bananas have potassium and will help prevent a hangover. The melon is a diuretic and helps flush excess water from your system while working to replace electrolytes. Lastly, the kiwi will help you shit (honestly yah) which always makes us feel skinnier.
7. Kefir Yogurt
If you’re in the mood for a parfait, use kefir yogurt as your base. It’s tangy, thinner than your typical Greek variety, and helps break down lactose which can cause bloating and stomach pain. Throw some nuts and honey on top and you’re ready to take shots.