We’ve heard it all before: your friend claims that he or she can’t lose weight because they have a slow metabolism, but what does that really mean? For starters, your metabolism is the process in which your body converts what you are eating and drinking into a form of energy.

You use that energy to carry out daily activities like exercising, eating, breathing, and even circulating blood. As your body carries out these functions, you burn calories as well; this task is better referred to as your metabolic rate. While your metabolism is a natural process, these common eating mistakes may explain why your metabolism is slowing down.

You don’t eat enough.

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Contrary to popular belief, starving yourself does not ensure that you’ll lose weight. Nutritionists suggest that you eat five times a day, even if it’s a small healthy snack like a banana or some nuts. In addition, eating throughout the day will also keep you from overeating later.

You avoid caffeine.

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Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can raise your metabolism by a whopping 12 percent, causing you to burn an extra 100 calories a day. Who says you have to skip out on Starbucks on your way to class?

Your meal doesn’t include protein.

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Your body needs to maintain lean muscle, so try adding some nuts, yogurt, and meats to your diet. Research shoes that adding protein to your diet can burn 35% more calories throughout the day.

You’ve completely banned dairy from your diet.

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We’ve heard it all before: Ban milk and yogurt from your diet and you’ll lose weight faster and have a flatter stomach. Well, research has shown that dairy helps build muscles, which leads to a faster metabolism over time.

You cut out carbs from your diet.

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Ladies, say goodbye to the low carb diet fad. The idea that a diet with no carbs will help you drop pounds may be the most common mistake abused by many people. If you’re a person who likes to exercise, you must understand that if you don’t consume enough carbohydrates, you won’t have the energy to work out. Your body demands carbs, so try to incorporate good carbs like carrots and corn into your diet.

While these mistakes are often hard to avoid, you can try to alter your lifestyle changes so you can reap the benefits. If you find yourself not eating enough throughout the day, try prepping your meals. If you’re lacking in the protein department, buy a bag of nuts that you can easily keep in your bag. If you follow these tips and remember to eat well, your metabolism will boost faster than you think.