Weight Loss & Diet

Maintaining Metabolism as You Lose Weight

Maintaining Metabolism as You Lose Weight
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

For many reasons, it is great that you have been in Lark DPP for so long now. Sticking to the program is a sign of your commitment, which is already valuable. In addition, staying around for so long means that there have been tons of opportunities to learn and to challenge yourself. By now, you may have developed a few healthy habits and lost some weight.

At some point during the weight loss process, there is a chance that weight loss may slow. It could be due to old habits creeping back in, but it can also be the result of slower metabolism, or fewer calories burned while doing the same things. Unfair though this may seem, there are ways to combat it and speed your metabolism and, as a Lark check-in explained, you may be better able now than you were before to take steps to speed metabolism. This is why metabolism slows and how to boost it again.

Why Metabolism Slows with Weight Loss

There are a few reasons why metabolism may slow with weight loss. The first is that the amount of calories your body burns depends on your body weight. The more you weigh, the more you burn. This is true for your resting metabolic rate, or the calories you burn all day while sitting, sleeping, breathing, and resting. 

It is also true when exercising. This makes sense intuitively when remembering that a calorie is a unit of energy, and it takes more energy to a 300-lb. object a mile than it does to move a 200-lb. object. Consider that object to be your body, and it makes sense that the same activities burn fewer calories when you weigh less. If you lose a lot of weight, you are more likely to notice this. 

The other reason for a slower metabolism is adaptation. When you are losing weight, your body is taking in (in the form of food or beverages) fewer calories than you expend throughout the day from resting metabolism and activity. In a survival mechanism, your body fears starvation and slows down and burns fewer calories to try to conserve energy as it feels the deficit. The effects are more dramatic with faster weight loss compared to more moderate rates.

Ways to Increase Metabolism

Small changes through the day can help increase metabolism, or your total calorie burn, and get weight loss going again. These are a few ways to burn a few extra calories.

Workout Intensity and Metabolism

The bad news was already delivered: at a lower weight, the same exercises burn fewer calories in the same amount of time. The good news is that, at a lower weight, there is an excellent chance that longer, more intense workouts are possible – that is, you may be in better shape from the workouts over the past several weeks – so that calorie burn stays up. It may be maintained or even exceed the original amounts. These are some ways to boost calorie burn through workouts.

  • Add an extra 5 or 10 minutes to most workouts.
  • Add 4 to 10 short bursts of higher intensity within a regular workout, such as some jogging in a regular walk, some faster pedaling while cycling, or some higher-resistance running on the elliptical trainer.
  • Trying new activities that use different muscle groups than you usually use.

Strength Training and Metabolism

One of the best ways to increase metabolism is to do some strength or resistance training. Why is it one of the best? Strength training is not just effective, as it burns calories while you are doing it and for the rest of the day, since it builds muscle and muscles burn a lot of calories at rest. Strength training:

  • Can be satisfying as you can feel all of your muscles after only a short workout.
  • Improves muscle tone and can improve self-confidence.
  • Lowers injury risk so you can keep up with your other metabolism-boosting exercises.
  • Lowers blood sugar.

Strength training is satisfying for another reason: it can be a sign of progress. For people who have not exercised regularly, resistance training may not have been safe at the beginning of the DPP. It may be feasible only after several weeks of being active regularly, which means that strength training may be a victory in itself.

Weight loss can lead to lower metabolism, but you can slow or reverse the trend with simple tricks to boost calorie burn. Some of these tricks, such as exercising more intensely and adding resistance training to your regimen, are worth celebrating because they show your hard work and progress up to now.