Why is My Metabolism Slow?
Perhaps you have been feeling more tired than usual lately. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”. Your skin feels dry and you’ve been craving sugar. These are all signs of metabolic weakness or a slowing down of your metabolism.
Let’s dive into how this can happen
What can slow my metabolism?
Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. There are lots of factors that affect how quickly or slowly it works. Your “metabolic rate” is measured in calories.
We now know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”! In fact, it’s so complicated I can only list a few of the common factors that can slow it down.
Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:
- low thyroid hormone
- a history of on and off dieting
- size and body composition
- activity level
- LACK OF SLEEP
- Stress levels
We’ll briefly touch on each one below. It is so much more than the old “eat less and exercise more” principle.
Low thyroid hormones
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, they would work to keep your metabolism just right. It can, however, be affected and thrown off course by several issues. Issues like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies. Examples would be iodine and selenium.
Foods containing iodine: Kelp, wakame, kombu, organic strawberries, organic yoghurt, cranberries.
Foods containing selenium: Brazil nuts, sardines, turkey, spinach, chicken. Check out two of my favourite selenium-rich recipes.
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. It 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 the 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.
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 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. Start small with only a few reps and build up to heavier weights.
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. I often will run on the spot rather than stand and wait for the jug to boil or my toast to cook. Any amount of activity is better than none.
Lack of sleep
There is plenty of research about the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. The consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
I have written a lot about the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Probably because it can elude me at times too. This is one area to work hard on maintaining but in doing so try not to get stressed about it or you will find yourself in a vicious circle.
Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
And so finally we come to:
It is important to keep stress levels as low as you can. If you find yourself in times of stress try some meditation each day. Even 10 minutes will help.
Although a little cortisol, the stress hormone can improve your metabolism constantly high-stress levels can cause weight gain, depression and fatigue.
Tip: Check out my Selenium-Rich Chocolate Chia Pudding recipe. This recipe contains Brazils which is are a rich source of selenium which can support thyroid function and help with sleep problems.
Do you know if your metabolism is slow>