We’ve all been on a health kick at one time or another, where we might follow a particular exercise routine or practice mindfulness in our day — but there can actually be some drawbacks. When healthy habits that sabotage your metabolism are integrated into your lifestyle, they actually put you at a disadvantage towards achieving your fitness and health goals. These habits can be deceiving, so going with your gut and body, rather than others’ opinions is the best move.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding healthy habits that are actually good for them, and forgoing practices that might mess with their progress and motivation long-term. Rather than relying on advice from friends and family (like when your sister raves about not eating meat, but your friends says that doesn’t guarantee enough protein), it’s better to avoid confusion and conflicting messages and to just go with what seems right for you and your needs. Here are 11 health traps that might seem tempting, but can actually be worse for your metabolism and health. Leave these myths behind and focus on habits that uplift you and make you feel awesome each day. Your mind and body know what healthy is, and there’s no fooling them.
1. Sleeping In Instead Of Eating Breakfast
“It might seem like a good idea to skip a few meals, especially when you’re deciding between getting a little extra shuteye and eating breakfast,” says Erica Bryers, co-founder of Ora Organic, over email with Bustle. “There’s a reason why breakfast is so often hailed as the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast can actually increase your resting metabolic rate by up to 10 percent. What that means is that breaking your morning fast triggers thermogenesis – the metabolic process of digesting and transporting food,” Byers explains.
2. Eating Snacks When You’re Not Really Hungry
While eating frequently, and in small doses, can be good for the metabolism, reaching for snacks that are high in carbs, sugars, and other additives that might raise blood sugar levels can put too much pressure on the body and hinder metabolic efficiency, advises Sharon Brown, founder of Bonafide Provisions and Certified GAPS Practitioner, over email with Bustle. Instead, eat well at meals in the day to prevent munchies. “Sipping bone broth warm alongside a protein-packed meal like a chicken or salmon can…keep you from unhealthy snacking throughout the day,” Brown recommends.
3. Restricting Food
Restricting food hurts your metabolism by putting it in starvation mode and slowing it down, advises author and health food chef Liana Werner Gray over email with Bustle. “When you don’t eat enough food you are sabotaging your metabolism. We are supposed to eat food optimally so our metabolism can do it’s job properly,” says Gray.
4. Having All-Or-Nothing Mentality
If your idea of being healthy means going to the extreme: all in on a certain diet or exercise regimen without much room for indulgence, leniency, and flexibility, it might lead to decreased motivation long-term and stagnancy in progress, advises personal trainer and owner of South Loop Strength & Conditioning, Todd Nief, over email with Bustle. Instead, aim for a healthy balance with regard to fitness and diet goals.
5. Buying “Healthy” Products Without Reading Labels
While some “healthy” products seem great on the outside, they might not be if they’re high in other additives, like GMO’s and refined products, that are secretly within, advises Gray. “We sabotage our metabolism when we eat too much of these 5 things, which just overload our metabolism with so much stress that it’s not able to process all of it: refined white sugar, gluten, non organic dairy, GMOs, preservatives,” says Gray. Be wary of labels before purchasing, and follow “dirty dozen, clean fifteen” for produce.
6. Going Through Periods Of Fasting
While there are some benefits of intermittent fasting touted by leading experts, others disagree and find that going through random cycles of fasting can hurt the metabolism. “Bouts of on and off fasting can really do a number on your metabolism. What I’ve seen is that clients who go from a very low calorie diet to a normal eating plan have trouble sustaining the normal plan and often binge,” says Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle. “It’s important to keep a balanced blood sugar level and delivery your body the nutrients it needs to live a healthy and long life,” Shaw adds.
7. Removing Food Groups Without Reason
Unless you have a valid reason (you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, such as Celiac disease relative to gluten), removing whole food groups, and thinking that they’re inherently healthy, is actually pretty bad for you, advises CEO and co-founder of FOODSTAND app, Rachna Govani and Shauna Keeler, NYC-based Chef, and RD, who is also a Foodstand contributor and member, over email with Bustle. “If you’re looking to regulate your appetite, make sure you’re including a variety of whole foods in your diet, particularly ones containing fiber – which helps to slow digestion and keep our blood glucose levels more tightly regulated. This helps us to feel more satisfied so we actually tend to eat less food which helps to support a healthy weight whereas foods with refined sugars and no fiber tend to leave us wanting more and more likely to overdo it,” say Govani and Keeler.
8. Eating Too Much Sugar-Free Gum
While eating gum might seem harmless, as it can entertain your mouth and prevent mindless snacking when you’re not truly hungry, if you’re eating excess gum to replace actual foods when you’re hungry, you’re only going to hurt your metabolism, advise Govani and Keeler. “Sugar-free gum, candy, or anything that contains sugar alcohols can cause digestive stress, gas, and even diarrhea, so keep an eye out for things like xylitol and sorbitol on the ingredient lists,” advise Govani and Keeler.
9. Working Out Too Much
Over email with Bustle, running coach Susie Lemmer explains that overdoing exercise can damage your metabolism over time and elevate cortisol levels to too high of levels on a chronic basis. Exercise is awesome, as it provides great endorphins and helps manage health goals; yet, overtraining can put too much stress on the body and metabolism.
10. Doing A Detox
Lemmer also cautions against going on crash, detox diets, where you stick with drinking only juices (cleanses are often high in sugar and refined carbohydrates) for a week or cutting out all carbohydrates (which your body desperately needs as fuel in order to function). Instead, find a healthy way of eating that provides balance and sustainability.
11. Not Eating Fat
While you might think eating fat will lead to weight gain, it really doesn’t when it comes from a healthy source. In fact, eating healthy fats, like those found in coconut and olive oil, avocado, nut butter, and fish, help power your metabolism to be more effective and burn more fat, advised Suzanne Rostler, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in Framingham, Massachusetts, over interview with Health.
Instead of giving into outdated diet “tricks,” understand that they’re myths and won’t help with health and fitness maintenance. Instead, find a proper balance of good foods and an exercise routine to feel happy and healthy each day.