Have you ever wondered if you may have a slow metabolism?
Maybe you feel tired, cold or you’ve gained weight a bit (or a lot) of weight. Does your digestion seem a bit “sluggish”?
You are convinced you have a slow metabolism and are looking for everything you can do to speed that baby up.
Why in the world does this happen (and it may seem it’s only happening to you)?
Why do metabolic rates slow down (or even speed up)?
What Causes You to Have a Slow Metabolism?
In case you don’t know, your metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.
Oh there are Lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) your metabolism works. This is called your “metabolic rate” (and this, my sweet friend, is measured in calories). In case you missed the post, Can Metabolism Affect Your Weight Loss, you’ll want to check it out!
You may have heard the old adage “calories in calories out”, but now it’s known there’s so much more to determining your metabolic rate!
In fact, it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can put the brakes on that metabolism of yours.
Common Reasons You May Have a Slow Metabolism:
- Low Thyroid Hormone
- Your History of Dieting
- Your Size and Body Composition
- The Level of Your Activity
- Lack of Quality Sleep
I’ll go over each one below, and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.
1. Low Thyroid Hormones
You may have thought a slow thyroid may be a reason you have a slow metabolism (and it’s becoming more common), but did you know your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism?
Guess what! If this lovely butterfly-shaped gland produces fewer hormones, then your metabolism slows down. Frustrating I know!
There are 2 thyroid hormones always telling the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active (T3—the most active form that helps regulate your metabolism & T4—converted to T3 when it reaches the organs & tissues). When you’re stressed or taking in too few calories, less T4 is converted to T3 (and instead makes more Reverse T3—not an active form).
Ideally, these two should work to keep your metabolism just right. But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. Things like stress, autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) can drastically affect your thyroid. Remember, dropping your calorie intake TOO low can negatively affect it too.
Tip: If you feel this may be an issue, talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested. To find out more about thyroid tests & what they mean, check out THIS article.
2. Your history of dieting
When you lose weight your metabolic rate often slows down. One reason is that it requires less energy to keep a smaller body functioning than it does a larger one.
Then when your brain realizes you’re restricting how much you’re eating it sends signals to your body to increase your hunger & reduce the number of calories you burn. (Your body adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.)
This is why I recommend NOT going on a crash diet & make changes that are maintainable and lead to slow weight loss instead . When you do this you allow your body to get used to changes slowly, not freak it out with huge calorie restriction.
Plus, when you excessively restrict your calories, it can have a negative effect on your thyroid hormones.
Tip: Make sure you eat enough food to fuel your body & don’t drop the calories too low.
3. Your size and 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 should already know gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.
Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. When you have more muscle on your body, you will burn more calories and fat…even when you’re sitting or watching TV! This means the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have. So, more muscle means a faster resting metabolic rate. Boom!!!
While dieting can lead to a reduction in the amount of fat it, unfortunately, can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have. Which is why you should include resistance training.
Tip: Weight/Resistance training will help increase your muscle mass. Yes, it means going to “that side” of the gym!
Which leads us to…
4. Your Activity Level
Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.
Your body needs to burn fuel for energy in order to move/work your muscles during exercise. You’ll know when this happens because your body gets hotter & you’ll notice your breathing becomes more labored.
No, it doesn’t take hours of aerobic activity for you to see the benefit. Even little things can add up. Walk a bit farther than you usually do, use a standing desk instead of sitting all day, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park all the way at the end of the parking lot or even dance while making dinner 😉. All of these things are easy ways to get in more activity throughout your day.
Tip: Incorporate movement into your day. Also, make sure you exercise on a regular basis.
5. Lack of Sleep
I’ve talked about the sleep & weight gain connection. In case you didn’t know, sleep can be an important piece of the puzzle if you think you may have a slow metabolism, & I encourage you to read how it can help you in this post HERE .
The general consensus is adults need 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. Studies suggest if you miss out on that quality sleep a few things can happen (Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR is discussed in the Metabolism Article I mentioned above)…
- Your morning RMR slows because your body is trying to conserve energy.
- If your routine is severely disrupted (you never sleep well or even if you’re a shift worker) you can have as much as an 8% decrease in your RMR.
- Less than 5 hours of sleep per night puts you at even greater risk for obesity and diabetes.
Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep Every. Night. Of. The. Week.
Even though this is only a few things that may cause you to have a slow metabolism, paying attention to these can make a big impact.
Plus, eating this selenium rich (from the Brazil nut milk) chia seed pudding will nourish your body (and thyroid)!
This chocolate chia seed pudding makes a great breakfast alternative or a healthier dessert! Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries. If you have a brazil nut allergy, sub for any plant milk.
Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
This chocolate chia seed pudding makes a great breakfast alternative or a healthier dessert!
Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries. If you have a brazil nut allergy, sub for any plant milk.
Do you need help losing weight that may be caused by a slow metabolism? Schedule a free Discovery Call HERE.