Why is My Metabolism Slow?

Tiredness and Slow Metabolism You may feel tired, cold, or that you've gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

Maybe you're convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Why does this happen? Why do metabolic rates slow down?

Common Causes of a Slow 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 that I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down... for simplicities sake. 

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 “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 happens because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions with food scarcity.

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.

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

Exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work.”  You can notice this when your body gets hotter during exercise.

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.  This can all contribute to more activity in your day and increase your metabolic rate.

TIP: Incorporate movement into your day and exercise regularly.

Lack of Sleep

There is plenty of research indicating that quality of sleep has an impact on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

TIP: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

Be sure to check out my delicious pudding recipe below!  It's a satisfying snack that supports healthy hormone regulation.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

This recipe serves 4 people. The ingredients are:

  • ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey or some Stevia

Here's a quick and simple process I use:

  1. Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk. If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
  2. Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

TIP: Top it with berries to make a delicious breakfast (or dessert).

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