Having a high metabolism is essential for weight loss or maintenance. If you struggle to lose weight, it could indicate a slow metabolism. Your metabolic rate determines how many calories you burn, even at rest. If you have a higher rate, you’ll have an easier time burning calories.

Lifestyle habits can cause a slow metabolism, making you more susceptible to weight gain. Identifying the signs of a slow metabolism can help individuals tailor their weight loss strategies to address metabolic challenges and achieve long-term success.

Understanding How Metabolism Is Affecting Your Weight

Metabolism is the reaction within your body to turn food and drinks into energy for essential functioning. The functions that require energy expenditure include:

  • digesting food
  • circulating blood
  • managing hormone levels
  • breathing
  • growing and repairing cells
  • regulating body temperature

Your energy expenditure can contribute to weight loss or gain, depending on whether you have a fast or slow metabolism. Fast metabolism leads to burning more calories, even when resting. If your metabolism is slow, it doesn’t use as many calories for basic functioning, meaning your body stores them.

Age, sex, muscle mass, and physical activity can influence your metabolic rate. Metabolism rates shift to adjust to your body’s needs. When you make healthy changes, it can promote weight management or loss.

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The Five Most Common Signs Slow Metabolism Is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

If you think slow metabolism is interfering with your weight loss, you might recognize some of these signs:

1. Difficulty losing weight despite diet and exercise

It could signify a low metabolism if you have a healthy diet and prioritize exercise but experience difficulty losing weight. You can try other methods to increase your metabolism to promote weight loss if this is the case.

2. Constant fatigue and low energy levels

If your metabolism is slow, it likely means you aren’t consuming enough nutrients required for energy production. The constant fatigue leaves you lacking the energy to live a fulfilling life.

3. Feeling cold often

You won’t generate body heat if you aren’t burning many calories. You’ll likely feel cold often, signifying a lower metabolic rate.

4. Dry skin and hair

If your body isn’t producing enough energy, your cells won’t regenerate properly. Because of this, a slow metabolism can cause you to have dry skin and hair.

5. Constipation and digestive issues

If your metabolism is low, it leads to slow muscle contractions. When it happens in your digestive tract, it can cause constipation and digestive issues, including bloating.

Four Primary Causes of a Slow Metabolism

If your metabolism is slow, some of the causes could include:

1. Age and muscle mass

You lose muscle as you age, slowing down your metabolism. The higher your muscle mass, the more calories you burn during rest. When you lose muscle, your body doesn’t have to use as much energy, and your metabolism slows.

2. Hormonal imbalances

Hormones are essential for a healthy metabolic rate. Imbalances can slow your metabolism. Insulin resistance can cause health issues, including diabetes and obesity. Another hormone, leptin, regulates appetite. Low levels can interfere with weight loss efforts.

Imbalanced estrogen levels can also interfere, affecting body weight and fat. Low levels often cause weight accumulation around the trunk. These aren’t the only hormonal imbalances that can interfere with weight loss, but they do frequently contribute.

3. Genetics and family history

Your family history can play a role in your metabolic rate. Your muscle size and ability to gain muscle can result from the genes you inherit.

Some genetic metabolic disorders also lead to a decrease in the rate, including the following:

  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Wilson disease
  • Gaucher disease
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Tay-Sachs disease

4. Poor diet and lack of physical activity

A poor diet contributes to a slow metabolism and can involve insufficient calories. Not eating enough can cause a decrease in metabolism as your body believes it’s facing starvation. It decreases how many calories you burn to save energy.

Not eating enough protein can also slow your metabolism. Protein is essential for increasing the metabolic rate because it boosts the thermic effect of food. This effect temporarily increases your metabolism, and the boost is better with protein than other foods.

Sugary drinks are harmful and contribute to a slow metabolism. It can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and other health complications. These complications and the decreased metabolic rate can result from the high fructose levels in the beverages.

A lack of physical activity also contributes to a slow metabolism. A job involving sitting can cause issues, so you must find opportunities to get active throughout the day.  Setting aside time to exercise is one of the best ways to increase your metabolic rate. However, even cleaning, parking further away in a parking lot, or taking the stairs can help.

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How to Improve Weight Loss if a Slow Metabolism Is Present

If your metabolism is slow, you can make lifestyle changes to improve weight loss. Some ideas include:

Increase your physical activity.

Your body requires physical activity for a high metabolism. Even if you lose weight through dieting, you can lose muscle mass and slow your metabolism if you don’t set aside time for physical activity.

Build muscle mass through strength training.

Studies show that strength training increases metabolic rate. It increases muscle mass, raising how many calories you burn. Not doing strength training causes you to miss the benefits and leads to a decline in metabolic rate.

Optimize diet, including protein and fiber intake.

Avoiding drinks sweetened with fructose is one way to improve your diet and increase your metabolic rate. Soda and juice often contain fructose, disrupting your fat-burning rate.

Focus on increasing your protein intake. It takes more energy to digest protein than other foods, so it increases your metabolism more. Protein also helps with muscle growth, helping build mass.

Eating more fiber can also help as it improves digestion and makes your body work harder. It can help you feel full longer, resulting in eating fewer unhealthy options.

Get enough sleep and manage stress if slow metabolism is affecting you.

Lack of sleep can interfere with your metabolism and weight loss goals. Poor sleep leads to higher blood sugar and decreased insulin levels, causing you to burn fewer calories.

Managing stress is essential because it can interfere with metabolism and weight loss. It encourages comfort eating and triggers food cravings. Stress also increases cortisol production, increasing belly fat storage. Learning to manage stress can help your metabolic rate and avoid weight gain.

Consult a healthcare professional.

Consulting a healthcare professional can help you get a diagnosis for your struggles to lose weight. They can help you rule out diseases or other conditions.

The Role of Metabolism in Weight Loss Plateaus

A weight loss plateau occurs when you have no issue losing weight initially, but then it seems to stop coming off. If you experience a plateau, it could indicate a slow metabolism and an issue burning calories during rest.

When you experience stalled weight loss, you must find ways to overcome the weight loss plateau. You can use the previously discussed methods to improve weight loss if your metabolism is slow. Those strategies will help increase your metabolic rate and allow you to lose weight again.

Common Misconceptions About How Metabolism Is Impacting Your Life

You’ve likely heard common misconceptions about metabolism, and it can be hard to differentiate myths from truth. Some of the most common metabolism misunderstandings include:

Starvation Mode

Restricting yourself from healthy food and drinks won’t help increase your metabolic rate. Being hungry and restricting too many calories won’t help, and the starvation mode can be accurate.

When you don’t eat enough, your body will use less energy and store much of it for survival, depleting your metabolism. It can also lead to decreased muscle mass, lowering the rate your body burns energy. Instead, focus on eating healthy whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

The Impact of Small Metabolic Variations on Weight Loss

As you age or your health shifts, you might experience small metabolic changes. These changes can lead to weight loss and having issues you didn’t before. Adjusting your lifestyle can help you build a fast metabolism to lose or maintain weight.

Normal Weight Fluctuations

Your weight can fluctuate daily, changing by up to six pounds. What you eat and drink contributes, plus whether you exercise or get enough sleep.

Your weight also might fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, after intaking alcohol, or during or after an illness. Some medications can also cause weight fluctuations. Consult a healthcare professional if you can’t identify the cause or the changes seem extreme.

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Understanding How Your Metabolism Is Affecting Your Weight Goals

Some lifestyle habits slow your metabolism, causing weight gain or lack of weight loss. Personalizing your weight loss strategies to achieve optimal results. A tailored approach requires understanding the causes of slow metabolism.

When you know what causes it, you can make changes that lead to improvements. If you don’t see results after changing your habits, seek guidance from a doctor. They can offer a diagnosis rather than assumptions about how your metabolism is affecting your weight.