The term "metabolism" refers to the chemical processes that take place inside each cell of the body and supply the organism with energy. It works round-the-clock to keep your body active, even while you're resting or sleeping. It turns the food and nutrients you eat into the energy that our body needs to breathe, circulate blood, develop and repair cells, and do all the other tasks necessary for survival. Therefore, our metabolism plays a crucial role in the overall growth and development of our body. 

Unfortunately, with aging and a few other associated conditions our metabolism begins to slow down. If left unattended it can adversely affect our overall health condition. Having said that, altering one's lifestyle and dealing with underlying issues can aid in accelerating metabolism. Let’s read all about slow metabolism in detail…

Identify the Symptoms of Slow Metabolism

The signs and symptoms of slow metabolism include:

  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Lower body temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Impact immune system 
  • Dry skin
  • Bloating
  • Brittle hair, nails, skin
  • Sweet craving
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate

Factors That Cause Your Metabolism to Slow Down 

Along with the aging factor (people in 40s or above), enlisted below are a few more science-backed causes that can lead to slow down your metabolism and affect your overall health:

Sedentary lifestyle: 

Your metabolism will slow down if you don't move about frequently. Any action that gets your body moving is called physical exercise. Do you know that physical activity not only protects you from an array of chronic illnesses like hypertension, insomnia, obesity, and diabetes? Engage yourself in some form of physical activity to keep your metabolism going strong. 

Insufficient sleep:

Inadequate sleep for a long time has been linked to a slow metabolism. Lack of sleep not only alters hormones that control metabolism but also affects the way glucose is metabolized. Additionally, if you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have time to rest and heal itself. 

Excess consumption of carbohydrates and added sugar: 

Consumption of sugary beverages and refined carbs, such as those found in cakes, cereal, cookies, white rice, and white bread, in large amounts may slow down your metabolism. Due to the high glycemic index of these meals, the body digests the carbs fast, raising blood sugar levels. A spike in blood sugar levels for a prolonged time reduces metabolic rate and promotes the storage of fat around the liver and belly.

Crash diet and eating fewer calories: 

Eating less is a major weight management strategy, but eating too little is typically harmful over the long run, hampering your metabolic rate. According to research, regularly consuming less than 1,000 calories per day causes a considerable decline in the metabolic rate that endures even after you quit dieting.

Underactive thyroid gland: 

Certain medical conditions like hypothyroidism, more common in females than males, can slow your metabolism. This condition also is called underactive thyroid.

7 Steps to Boost a Slow Metabolism

1. Brew some coffee daily: Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee that helps to boost the metabolic rate in both control and obese individuals. Studies have also found that other than its potential to speed up metabolism, caffeine also acts an appetite suppressant and is often used in weight loss. Having said this, make sure to speak to a certified nutritionist or dietician to know whether you should include this energy booster beverage to your daily diet.  As there are many health conditions that doesn't do well with coffee.

2. Exercise regularly:  To boost metabolism, studies recommend performing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity like brisk walking, swimming, dancing, etc., in a week. Plus, 75 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity a week such as running or jogging. 

Note: If you don’t have time for a complete workout, even a 10-minute walk throughout the day could help.

3. Control the portion size of your meals and avoid late-night snacks: Small, well-balanced meals spread out throughout the day can boost metabolism and provide your body the nutrient resources it requires to function. Meals should be portioned to assist you in avoiding overeating. Avoid late-night snacks as the body will not have sufficient time to burn these calories off.

4. Eat protein and do weight training: Every time you consume, digest, and store food your metabolism speeds up. This is known as the thermic impact of food. Because protein takes a longer time to digest and absorb into your body than fats and carbs, protein has a larger thermic impact. A simple way to eat more protein daily is to have a source of protein at every meal, like egg, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, tofu, fish, quinoa, soya beans, lentils, fish, poultry, and lean meat. 

The research shows that one should consume protein about 0.8-1 grams per kg of body weight. Combining adequate protein intake with weight training increases muscle mass and in turn, boosts metabolism. 

5. Drink enough water: The metabolic process depends on adequate hydration and water consumption. Water helps you burn more calories, is calorie-free, and suppresses your appetite. Drinking enough water each day might help you stay properly hydrated and speed up your metabolism. Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day to properly metabolize stored fat or carbohydrates.

6. Keep your thyroid disorders in control. You can go for hormone replacement therapy for thyroid disorders or talk to your healthcare provider for thyroid hormone pills to treat your underactive thyroid hormones. 

7. Get enough sleep: Several hormonal and metabolic functions affect our sleep cycle as well as our overall quality of life. To preserve a healthy metabolism, it is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you are snoring that disrupts your sleep, make an appointment with your health care provider. Snoring may indicate a sleep condition like sleep apnea.

When to Visit Your Doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Extreme exhaustion or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain

Hence, if you find it hard to lose weight yet simple to acquire weight, you have a slow metabolism. Other signs and symptoms include a colder-than-normal body temperature, exhaustion, poor digestion, constipation, and low mood. The decreased generation of energy and heat is the root cause of all of them. Simple steps can revamp your metabolism like eating more protein, consuming fewer beverages sweetened with fructose, moving more each day, doing more strength training, and getting adequate sleep.

If you have any questions about slow metabolism, you can check with our doctors and dietitians at Ask a doctor, 24x7.

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Disclaimer:  Information provided on this page is not intended to substitute for proper medical advice provided by your healthcare professional. This is only for informational purposes. 

About the Author

Priya Singh

Priya Singh is a professional writer and editor with 13 years of experience in writing/editing health and lifestyle content for diverse verticals such as magazine, newspaper, and digital media.

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