12 Diet Don'ts That Are Slowing Down Your Metabolism

When it comes to weight loss (or even just staying healthy), "metabolism" is a word that's thrown around a lot. We know that people born with a fast metabolism tend to stay at healthy weights because their bodies use the food they consume for energy instead of saving it in fat cells for later. How to get a metabolism like that is a tricky question to answer, but how NOT to get a metabolism like that is a little bit easier.

Basically, there are some foods you see everywhere (and probably consume pretty frequently) that are a killer for your metabolism. They're the hidden threats that are slowing your metabolism waaaay down and adding fat stores to your body that'll be tricky to get off later.

So put down that bowl of low-fat yogurt and granola -- it's not doing you any favors. Here are 12 metabolism-zapping foods to look out for.

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  • Simple Carbohydrates

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    We're looking at you, bread. And you too, pasta. And flour. And sugar. Simple carbs are all those white, sugary, and overprocessed foods that hide everywhere and ruin your metabolism. But how are they doing that, exactly?

    "Simple carbohydrates overstimulate insulin and cortisol, which are crucial to proper metabolics," explains functional medical practitioner and sports nutritionist Brandon Mentore. "This creates high levels of inflammation, desensitization, and destabilization."

    None of that is good, and too much desensitization in particular makes it hard for your body to respond to the normal, healthy cues that keep your metabolism in check.

    We'll just go cry into our bread bowls now, thanks.

  • Liquid and Semi-Fluid Foods

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    Smoothies and healthy juices are fine in moderation, but overdoing liquid food juices, shakes, smoothies, and even semi-fluids like yogurt, peanut butter, and cottage cheese can mess with your metabolism's system.

    "The metabolic machinery is a use-it-or-lose-it system," notes Mentore. "If you overdo liquid and semi-fluid foods, your digestive and metabolic processes could, in a sense, get out of practice. When you go back to more solid foods, your metabolism can have more difficulty with digestion and assimilation."

    Slowing down your metabolism like that is a killer for weight loss, so even if you're losing weight during your juice cleanse, you'll probably be gaining it back when you reintroduce solids into your diet.

  • Processed Foods

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    You've heard this before, but you probably need to hear it again: Processed foods are terrible for you. According to Mentore, that's any food that comes in a package and is not fresh or perishable.

    "By default, processed foods are nutrient depleted relative to natural and fresh foods that are nutrient dense," he explained. "By the same token, processed foods typically have more artificial ingredients which can also cause metabolic dysfunction." Basically, digesting processed foods uses more energy than they give you in return, making them a bad investment for your body.

  • Fruit Juices

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    They might masquerade as a healthy drinks, but fruit juices are one of your metabolism's biggest enemies. Certified trainer and nutrition expert Liz Josefsberg says they're really no more than sugared-down water mixed in with some chemicals.

    "One eight-ounce glass of fruit juice contains 30 grams of sugar, while a soda contains 28 grams of sugar," Josefsberg explain. "All of the newest research is proving that fat is not the culprit for America's rising obesity epidemic, but instead it's sugar and carbohydrate consumption."

    She also noted that squeezing your own juice from fresh fruit really doesn't help, because you're separating out all the nutrient-rich fiber and just drinking the sugary parts instead. Sorry, juicers.

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  • Canola Oil

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    Canola seemed like this amazing, healthy ingredient when it first made it's entrance, but Josefsberg explains that it's not exactly the magic thing we once thought it was.

    "In truth, [canola oil] contains hydrogenated oils, which can cause inflammation throughout the entire body," she says. "That inflammation disrupts both hormones and metabolism."

  • Artificial Sweeteners

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    Artificial sweeteners were designed to be a healthy alternative to sugar, but really, they're just unhealthy in other ways. "They have been shown to increase appetite and cravings," Josefsberg says. "I warn my clients that the calories that they think they're saving are negated by increased food consumption and cravings."

    Josefsberg also notes that artificial sweeteners are linked to over 90 adverse health effects not associated with your metabolism, so it's best to steer clear.

  • Soda

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    "If you stop consuming only one thing for the betterment of you metabolism, it should be sugar-sweetened beverages," says Rene Ficek, RD, lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating. Because sodas have no nutritional value and a loooot of sugar, they're never really going to satiate your body. "[Soda] keeps the body begging for more and eventually leads to metabolic  syndrome where the body just gives up and stores fat," warns Ficek.

  • Corn-Fed Beef

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    Corn-fed beef (and many processed meats) are no-gos for a healthy metabolism because of the way the animals are raised on farms. "Farmers today feed their cows corn and soybeans, which can fatten animals up at a faster rate," Ficek explains. "This feed also diminishes any vitamins and minerals that could be obtained from meat, and increases the saturated fat content."

    Ficek reccomends trying grass-fed beef or lean cuts of chicken and turkey instead.

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  • Raw Broccoli

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    Broccoli (raw or cooked) is never going to be bad for your health, but raw broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage aren't the best choice for people trying to lose weight.

    "Raw cruciferous vegetables contain [a protein] that, when eaten, actually shut down the thyroid and are disastrous for the metabolism," explains natural health expert Mark Mincolla, PhD. Cooking, however, destroys the proteins and makes them better for your metabolism.

  • High-Sugar Fruits

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    According to Mincolla, some fruits and vegetables might be slowing down you metabolism, if you're choosing the wrong ones out of the fruit basket.

    "Low-sugar fruits average approximately eight grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving," Mincolla says. "High-sugar fruits contain 25 to 30 grams of sugar. Sugar stores as fat, and fat bogs down the metabolism."

    He says to watch out for grapes, bananas, raisins, pineapple, and papaya. Some high-starch vegetables that cause pose a similar problem are carrots, potatoes, parsnips, peas, and winter squash.

  • Coffee Creamer

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    Aside from being wonderfully delicious, coffee is good for your health (and your metabolism), too! Sadly, the same can't be said for the milk and creams we use to take off the bitter edge.

    "Most creamers are laced with sugar, soybean oil, corn syrup, transfat, and carrageenan," notes celebrity fitness and nutrition expert Lisa Lynn.

    Plus, the serving size for most creamers is one tablespoon, but we're unknowingly using four times that amount in the average cup of coffee. "What we think is 35 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar is actually 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 24 grams of sugar," Lynn says. "This wreaks havoc on your metabolism due to the fat and sugar it contains that spike blood sugar levels."

    Lynn suggests making your own creamer by mixing vanilla whey protein powder with water and vanilla or almond extract as an alternative to standard creamers. Or, if you can, drink your coffee black.

  • Cheese

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    "Cheese is wrong for weight loss on every level," say Lynn. "Not only do we eat too much, but it also lacks nutrients and it's high in fat, carbs, and salt ... Cheese and dairy products are 'insulinogenic,' which means they spike insulin levels -- which is exactly the opposite of what you want when trying to lose weight."

    Giving up cheese, Lynn says, might give your metabolism the boost it needs.

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