Your hormones and your metabolism are deeply intertwined.
“Metabolism isn’t just about how quickly you burn calories—it encompasses all the ways your body stores and uses energy from food,” says Rocio Salas-Whalen, M.D., an endocrinologist in New York City.
In addition to the calorie torching, your metabolism turns protein, fats, and carbs into compounds like amino acids, fatty acids, and simple glucose, then transports them into your cells; grows and maintains your muscles; and breaks down the fat stored by your body.
“All these metabolic functions are completely controlled by your hormones,” she adds. To keep your body’s systems humming along smoothly, your hormones need to be in balance. If one shoots up too high or dips too low, your metabolism can get thrown out of whack, which can affect your workout, your mood, and your weight, says Liz Lyster, M.D., an ob-gyn in Foster City, California, who specializes in hormone imbalances.
Read on for tips to keep your hormones in sync and your metabolism stoked.
Eat More Often
Waiting until you’re super-hungry to eat your next meal can backfire.
“It puts your body into stress, which can contribute to elevated cortisol levels and slow your metabolism,” says Dr. Salas-Whalen. It also makes you more likely to overeat, which can lead to blood sugar dips and spikes that throw off your levels of insulin, another key metabolic hormone. Too much insulin can cause your body to store more fat, says Dr. Lyster.
Experiment with timing your meals to figure out what works best for you. “You can have six a day or three—just choose whatever meal schedule keeps you from feeling famished in between,” says Dr. Salas-Whalen.