Ask the Nutritionist: "Has Calorie Restriction Broken My Metabolism?"

"I severely restricted my calories in the past with an extreme diet. Is my metabolism broken forever?"
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During yo-yo or restrictive dieting practices, your body’s physiological survival response is to slow your metabolism. That being said, your metabolism naturally changes several times over the course of your life because of calorie intake, of course, but also because of hormone levels, exercise frequency and intensity, age, genetic predisposition, medication use and more.

Woman eating fruit at the market

Maintain a balanced metabolic rate by eating a variety of natural foods.

Whether past instances of extreme dieting will affect your ability to lose weight in the future is hard to determine, but there are things you can do now to maintain a balanced metabolic rate: Exercise frequently (but avoid overtraining), reduce stress, get a consistent amount of sleep and support a healthy gut by eating a variety of whole, natural foods.

Increase Your Metabolic Rate By Laughing

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed a significant increase in energy expenditure and heart rate — both of which elevate metabolism — when you are genuinely laughing. No more shame in binge-watching those cat videos: For every 10 minutes of laughter, you release joy-boosting endorphins and burn as many as 40 extra calories!

Nutrition Myth Bustin'

True or False: Are all calories really equal?

False. It is true that all calories contain the same amount of energy, no matter whether they come from candy or carrots. It is not true, however, that a carrot calorie has the same effect on your body as a candy calorie. Your body uses different metabolic pathways to break down the macronutrients in food, and those nutrients subsequently have different effects on the hormones that control hunger and eating behavior. Also, some foods have a satiating effect while others can actually make you hungrier.

Bottom line: Judging food based on calories alone is way too simplistic. Work on balancing your plate and getting a healthy amount of protein, carbs and fat in each meal and snack.