How Junk Food Might Be Doing Damage To Your Metabolism

You know eating too much junk food can be bad for your general health and for maintaining a healthy weight. But did you know that eating a lot of junk food can actually do damage to your body's metabolism?

Unfortunately, even a few days of eating mostly fast food can start to shift the metabolism — how your body is able to process nutrients. A 2015 study found that after five days of unhealthy eating, the participants' muscles were less easily able to oxidize glucose, meaning they were less effective at processing the nutrients they were eating (via Food Navigator).

Periods of eating a lot of junk food interspersed with periods of restricting calories can also lead to metabolic problems. "The most common reason for metabolic issues that I have encountered have been due to yo-yo dieting," body science expert Moodi Dennaoui told the Huffington Post. Constant periods of intense dieting followed by slipping back into unhealthy habits are hurting more than your waistline, they're hurting your overall ability to efficiently process what you are eating. 

Can you change your metabolism back?

In the long term, eating junk food more than twice a week has been linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome. On the flip side, eating one healthy meal per day can have similar positive impacts, so the good news is that while junk food may hurt your body's metabolism, healthy eating can help get it back on track (via the Washington Post). 

You may also find that eating more junk food leaves little room for nutrient dense foods, so while you may get enough calories, your body is starved for nutrients, which can impact hormone and metabolic health. "Your body is temporarily full with empty foods that don't provide nourishment, so even though you may have eaten a lot of calories, you won't be satisfied for long," registered dietitian Amy Shapiro told Eat This, Not That.

You can't do much about your metabolism, but you can help steer it in a positive direction with lifestyle changes. "You can manipulate your metabolism to a degree," Dr. Chih-Hao Lee, professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Harvard Health Publishing. "It is often a small change that may help you burn more calories. That, along with adopting a healthier diet and making sure you get enough exercise, may give people the extra push they need to lose and maintain weight."