Dover Nutritional Coach talks habits vs metabolism

Have you ever found yourself thinking that your metabolism is dead? That no matter what you do you’ll never lose the weight?


You’re not alone. We hear it a lot: my metabolism is dead, my metabolism is sluggish, my metabolism just doesn’t work. But what if your metabolism isn’t the problem? What if it’s your habits?


When people talk about metabolism, a lot of the time they really don’t have a good grasp of what your metabolism actually is and how it functions in your body. What your metabolism is in charge of is your total daily energy expenditure, meaning how many total calories you burn each day. 


There’s a few ways that your body burns calories. The first is by just living. This is called your basal metabolic rate, essentially how many calories you would burn if you did nothing but lay in bed all day. The second way is by NEAT, or non exercise activity thermogenesis. Activities like walking, moving your hands while you talk, or fidgeting are considered with this type of calorie burn. Of course this only makes up approximately 10-20% of your daily caloric expenditure. The third way is by eating. 




Yes, eating. When you eat your body burns calories in order to digest the food. This is why the way we eat is important: the amount of food, the types of food, and how often. Some food takes more energy to digest than others, causing a higher thermic (burning) effect. 


The last way, of course, is exercise. 


These are the four ways of burning calories, and your metabolism dictates how efficient your body is at doing it. A lot of people think if they’ve tried different diets or exercise programs and didn’t see results that it’s because of their metabolism, but the reality is that much more goes into whether or not you will effectively lose weight than your metabolism.


In most people their metabolism is completely healthy. Sure they might not see weight-loss, but it’s not because of your metabolism. If you’re not feeding your body right, consistently, your body is doing the right thing by not allowing you to lose weight. A great example of this is under-eating. If your body doesn’t have enough food, your metabolism is supposed to be slow and prevent you from losing weight.


The same is true for the opposite. In order to create weight loss we need a caloric deficit, meaning there is more energy being expended than there is calories coming in. If someone is eating more than they are burning and aren’t seeing weight-loss then their metabolism is doing its job; their metabolism is healthy.

The reality is that most people don’t put in the work consistently for long enough to see any results. 


The only way someone truly has a metabolism issue is if they are eating the right amount, the right types of foods, hydrating well, sleeping well, and exercising consistently and they STILL don’t lose weight.


Anything other than that ultimately comes down to habits. 


Most people are not consistent in their healthy habits to see actually results. They may eat right for a few days, and then off for a few days. They might exercise for 2 days straight but then go a week without doing any physical activity. If their habits are not consistent it is not possible for them to see long lasting and impacting results. 

The Center for Disease Control actually recommends that the average adult gets 150 minutes of exercise in a week, coupled with a well balanced diet. In Delaware, only 19% of adults actually reach this goal. 150 minutes a week breaks down to about 25 minutes a day. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but over time this healthy habit can yield big results.


So why do our habits falter?


It can be due to a few different things. For many of our clients it may be stress management. When you’re stressed you often feel sluggish, which leads to a lack of drive to exercise. There is nothing wrong with this, and is actually your body functioning correctly. When you’re stressed your body should want to relax, so sometimes pushing yourself is not the answer but finding ways to manage your stress on a regular basis is. 


Other things might be relationship challenges, work challenges, life challenges. All of these things are going to impact your habits if your don’t have healthy ones locked in and a support system in place to encourage you to stay on track.


The key to seeing results is not hacking your metabolism, because chances are your metabolism is completely healthy; the key is hacking your habits.


In order to see sustainable results you need to make small and consistent changes. Maybe that means that instead of having pizza every weekend for dinner your opt for cooking your own meal. Maybe that means that instead of going home and watching tv every night with a bowl of snacks you go home and go for a walk with your spouse.

But don’t be too hard on yourself. Though a lot of people think that it only takes a month of doing something to break or develop a new habit, it can take much, much longer than that, especially on how long you’ve had the bad habit. If you’ve had ice cream every night for the past thirty years, chances are you aren’t going to break that habit in a month. 


And that’s okay!


Everyone’s journey looks different, what’s important is staying the course even when we aren’t seeing results.


So challenge your thinking: if you’ve found yourself saying your metabolism is dead, take a look at your habits and see which ones you can make an effort to improve upon. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll see change. 


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