Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian (RD) & Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
You may feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.
You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.
Why does this happen? Why do metabolic rates slow down?
What can slow my 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:
- low thyroid hormone
- your history of dieting
- your size and body composition
- your activity level
- lack of sleep
We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.
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 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. Listen to your body and practice mindful eating
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.
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.What do: Low thyroid, history of dieting, body composition, and lack of exercise and sleep all have in common? Hint: It makes you feel tired, cold and sluggish (and may be the cause of your weight gain). #metabolism #dietitian Click To Tweet
Lack of sleep
Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Learn ways to boost your metabolism here
Tell me, what have you tried to help rev up your metabolism? Leave me a comment below.
Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Mint Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Chocolate Pudding With Mint | Vegan, Gluten Free
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup Brazil nuts unsalted
- 5 dried dates Medjool
- 4 mint leaves medium/large
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2 tbsp cacao powder pure, unsweetened
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt iodized
- Blend Brazil nuts, water, dates, mint and cacao in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.
- In two clean and dry mason jars, add 1/4 cup chia seeds.
- Pour Brazil nut milk equally among the two jars. Stir well and let them sit several minutes (or overnight) in the fridge, until desired consistency is reached.
Serve & enjoy with fresh strawberries!
- You can use any milk to make this chia pudding, coconut or nut milk would work well.
- Make sure to use unsalted Brazil nuts (or nuts of choice)
- The longer you leave this pudding the thicker the texture will become. It can be eaten straight away or left overnight.
- Mint goes perfectly for with chocolate but if you’re not a fan you could try using orange zest which would also work well.
- Make sure to use pure, unsweetened cocoa powder for best results and nutritional benefits.
Please note the nutritional analysis numbers are estimates and suggestions. The nutrition facts table does not know your life; your body - including you hunger and satiety cues - change daily. It’s okay to eat more or less. Let's say no to food guilt and embrace mindfulness.