Your metabolism is a series of chemical processes in your body that are responsible for maintaining life.
Your body metabolizes the food you consume to convert it into energy for bodily function. The calories from your food are combined with oxygen to produce the energy your cells need.
Low metabolism can cause you to feel sluggish and can also cause unexplained weight gain.
The minimum amount of energy your body needs to carry out regular functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR accounts for anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of your daily energy requirements.
A high metabolism means that you need to intake more calories to maintain your weight, and a low metabolic rate means you will burn fewer calories at rest and should be eating less to maintain a healthy weight. Eating too many calories with a low metabolism can cause weight gain.
Having a low basal metabolic rate can result in changes in the body. When you are not burning calories quickly, but consuming high amounts of calories, the excess calories in your body cause various symptoms.
♦ Unexplained weight gain
♦ Chronic fatigue
♦ Constant headaches
♦ Dry skin, hair loss, and brittle nails
♦ Sugar cravings
Your metabolic rate can slow in the presence of too much cortisol, which is the stress hormone. In times of extreme stress, you may experience a slower metabolism and temporary symptoms.
There are also some medical conditions that are associated with causing a slow metabolism that is more long-term.
♦ Cushing’s syndrome: This disease is characterized by the excessive production of cortisol. As a result, you can gain excess weight, especially around the midsection, and it also causes excessive facial hair growth in both men and women. Long term steroid use increases your risk for Cushing’s disease. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and can involve medication and surgery.
♦ Diabetes: Having insulin levels that are too high can interfere with your metabolism. Diabetes is a metabolic condition, and when blood sugar levels and insulin levels are high, you can develop a lower metabolism. Weight gain is more likely in those with diabetes who do not regulate their blood sugar levels.
♦ Extreme low-calorie diets: Extreme diets grossly restrict your caloric intake. While many do this to lose weight, it can be counterproductive. Your body interprets this lack of calories as a food shortage, so it lowers the rate of metabolism, and as a result, you do not drop weight as planned. A balanced diet with regular exercise is more effective in the long term.
♦ Grave’s disease: This autoimmune disease impacts your thyroid gland causing it to make more thyroid hormones than usual. Both weight loss and weight gain are associated with this disease. As a result of the lower thyroid hormone count, your thyroid speeds up activity to counteract this, so an overactive thyroid could be the result of a low metabolism to start with.
♦ Hypothyroidism: An underacting thyroid doesn’t release enough thyroid hormones. Metabolic rates begin to drop as a result of this, and you may notice unintentional weight gain. Hypothyroidism is treated with hormone-based medication.
♦ Hashimoto’s disease: This autoimmune disease attacks the thyroid causing hypothyroidism. The underactive thyroid slows metabolism down, which leads to fatigue and weight gain. Inflammatory medications help to reduce the inflammation that causes thyroid damage.
♦ Low testosterone: Testosterone increases the levels of growth hormones in your body, so it plays a role in the metabolic rate, specifically in fat metabolism. Low testosterone levels increase body fat, especially around the midsection. Obesity is also one of the top causes of low testosterone levels.
♦ Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome consists of a group of conditions that occur together with an increase in your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Hypertension, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels are all examples of metabolic conditions. These conditions cause a lower metabolic rate, which leads to increased fat accumulation around the waist. Diet and exercise are the best treatment options for metabolic syndrome.
If you have a low metabolism as a result of any of these conditions, getting medical treatment for the condition can help boost your metabolism by default.
There are also a number of things you can try that will boost your metabolic rate to help you lose any excess weight you may have gained.
♦ Eat plenty of protein with each meal: Protein can increase your metabolism for a few hours after ingestion. When you eat more protein, you can also reduce the drop in metabolism that is associated with losing fat.
♦ Drink cold water: Water speeds up your metabolism for temporary periods of time. Drinking cold water uses more energy in order to bring it to body temperature. Drinking water half an hour before you eat will help you eat less and boosts your metabolism.
♦ High-intensity workouts: Quick bursts of high-intensity exercise boosts your metabolism and can burn excess fat. Incorporating these workouts into your regular schedule can help counteract the weight gain associated with a low metabolism.
♦ Stand more: One of the most common problems associated with office jobs and sitting at a desk all day is weight gain. As a result of not moving much, your metabolic rate slows, and you can gain weight more quickly. Get up throughout your day to stand and move around because standing burns more calories than sitting.
♦ Drink green tea: Green tea helps to convert fat stored in the body into free fatty acids, which can increase fat burning. Drinking green tea (and oolong tea) can help speed your metabolism for temporary periods, and this will help you burn fat and lose weight.
Your metabolism naturally slows as you get older, but there are also conditions that can be causing your metabolic rate to slow down.
Low metabolism is easy to manage with dietary changes, and you can still maintain a healthy weight. If you notice unexplained weight gain, it is important to bring a low metabolism to your doctor’s attention in case there is an underlying cause that requires treatment.
With the right diet, you can live a healthy life with a low metabolism.