5 Common Reasons Your Metabolism is Slow
Slow metabolism makes you feel tired, cold and as if you’ve gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.
Why does this happen? Why do metabolic rates slow down?
What can slow metabolism?
Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).
But don’t worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”! In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.
Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:
- Lack of sleep. Who knew?
- Size and your body composition
- Your activity level
- Underactive thyroid
- History of your dieting
We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.
Lack of sleep
There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. See THIS blog for proven strategies on how to get more sleep.
Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Size and your body composition
In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates. This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one.
However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.
Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat. This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.
Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.
Which leads us to…
Your activity level
Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.
Even little things can add up. Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.
Tip: Incorporate movement into your day. Also, exercise regularly.
Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism. When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active. Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right. But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.
Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.
Your history of dieting
When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down. This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.
While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have. As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.
Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.
Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding (Serves 4)
- ½ cup Brazil nuts
- 2 cups water
- nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
- ½ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk. If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.
Dr. Anna ND
- Can eating too little actually damage your metabolism? Exploring the truths and fallacies of ‘metabolic damage’. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage
- 7 thyroid issues your doc likely missed. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing
- All About Energy Balance. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance
- 6 Mistakes That Slow Down Your Metabolism. https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/
- 10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Metabolism (Backed by Science). https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – It’s NEAT! http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat