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8 slow metabolism symptoms and what to do about it

How to spot the signs of a slow metabolism and what you can do about it.

8 Slow Metabolism Symptoms and What to Do About It | Juniper

There's nothing more frustrating than hitting the gym every day, eating healthy food and still having trouble shaving off those excess kilos. If you've ever felt this way it might point to signs of a slow metabolism (and trust us, you're definitely not alone).

We're sure you've heard the terms 'slow metabolism' and 'fast metabolism' thrown around. In fact, lots of people complain they've got a slow metabolism, which can impact their ability to lose weight and burn fat.

So, what exactly is a slow metabolism, what causes it and how can you turn a slow metabolism into a fast one? There are a lot of factors involved in metabolic processes in the body so we're breaking them down.

Keep on reading to spot the signs of a slow metabolism and what you can do about it.

What is the metabolic rate?

The metabolic rate simply refers to how fast fuels are broken down to keep an organism's cells running. Basically, it's the amount of energy expended over a specific period of time.

This rate differs from person to person based on a variety of factors like activity level (how much you exercise), environmental conditions (how hot or cold the weather is) and your body size.

There are a few different ways to measure your metabolic rate so let's take a look at the different components below.

Basal metabolic rate

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the calories you burn when your body is performing basic life-sustaining functions such as breathing, growing, adjusting hormone levels and keeping the heart beating [1].

Your BMR accounts for the most amount of energy expended throughout the day. This is anywhere between 50% to 80% of your daily energy levels [1].

An individual's BMR is influenced by a bunch of different factors including age, weight, height, gender, diet and physical activity [2]. For example, someone who sits behind a computer all day at work or watches TV would probably have a lower BMR than a tradie who is on their feet all day.

Resting metabolic rate

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and BMR are often used interchangeably but they aren't exactly the same thing. While BMR measures the minimum number of calories the body needs to perform basic functions, RMR looks at the number of calories your body burns while asleep or resting.

Metabolic age

In a lot of cases, your metabolic age and your actual age don't match up. Your metabolic age looks at how your BMR compares to other people in your age group.

Since your metabolic rate changes with age, generally at a slower metabolic rate, if your metabolic age is higher than your actual age it's a good indicator that you need to improve your metabolic rate by improving your diet and increasing your physical activity.

Why is my metabolic rate different to others?

Everybody's metabolic rate will look different — after all, no 2 people are the same. Plus, your basal metabolic rate is influenced by a variety of factors including:

  • Body size: Larger bodies typically have a larger BMR because they have more metabolising tissue
  • The amount of lean muscle tissue: Muscle burns calories faster
  • Body fat: Fat cells can cause a sluggish metabolism meaning the body will burn fewer calories than other tissues and organs
  • Fad dieting or fasting: When you're eating too few calories it encourages a slower metabolism to conserve energy
  • Age: Your metabolism naturally slows down with age because of hormonal changes and loss of muscle mass
  • Gender: On average, men have a faster metabolism compared to women because they have larger bodies
  • Hormones: BMR can be influenced by a hormone imbalance which can have a slow metabolism or a fast metabolism
  • Physical activity: Increased physical activity increases muscle mass and trains the body to burn calories faster [1]

How do I know if I have a fast metabolism?

If you have a fast metabolism it means your body burns calories and uses more energy at a quicker rate than someone with a slow metabolism. When you've got a fast metabolism, your body needs more calories to maintain weight in comparison to someone with a slow metabolism.

Here are some of the signs of a fast metabolism:

  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Anaemia
  • Higher body temperature when you're not engaging in any activity
  • Increased appetite
  • A lower percentage of body fat
  • Feeling sweaty
  • Increased energy levels or hyperactivity
  • Faster heart rate [3].

What are slow metabolism symptoms?

A slow metabolism affects your ability to process food and therefore, can lead to weight gain. If you've ever hit the gym regularly, watched what you eat and still have difficulty losing weight or experienced unexplained weight gain then these might be signs of a slow metabolism.

Let's take a closer look at some slow metabolism symptoms you may not even know are impacting your ability to lose weight.

  • Weight gain: A slow metabolism impacts the rate at which your body burns calories meaning you're burning fewer calories from eating the same amount of food as someone with a fast metabolism. This means your body stores more fat.
  • Lethargy, chronic fatigue and always feeling tired: Even if you've had a good night's sleep, a slow metabolism can make you feel tired more frequently.
  • Dry and cracked skin: When you've got a slow metabolism, you may also experience low thyroid hormones that can lead to dry skin, hair and brittle nails.
  • Hair loss: A slow metabolism can impact your hair's ability to grow and regenerate.
  • Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance can cause excess insulin. Instead of the body turning glucose into energy, it's stored as body fat.
  • Constipation: A slow metabolism can affect bowel movements, causing food to take longer to travel through your digestive system.
  • Feeling cold: Body heat is impacted by metabolic activity, where a decrease in activity can cause a decrease in body temperature.
  • Sugar and carb cravings: If you find yourself reaching for sugary and fatty foods it might be a sign of a slow metabolism.

Why do I have a slow metabolism?

As we've already mentioned, a slow metabolism can be caused by a variety of factors from body size, age, gender, hormones and even sleep deprivation.

If you experience weight gain and you're not exactly sure why it might be due to a slow metabolism. This means your food intake isn't getting converted into energy at a fast speed.

This may be due to something more simple like a poor diet and not enough exercise but it could also be due to insulin resistance, insulin sensitivity or a hormone imbalance.

If you're trying to work out whether your slow metabolism symptoms are caused by any of these factors, speak to your doctor to get to the root cause of the issue and figure out what's causing weight gain.

How do I treat a low metabolism?

The good news is even if you have a slow metabolism it can be treated and your slow metabolic rate can get faster.

So, if you've got a slower metabolism and want to improve your metabolic health then keep on reading for some tips and tricks.

Hormone replacement therapy

Sometimes, you're born with an unfair advantage due to genetics and for a lot of women, weight loss can be difficult because your body is working against you. This means your hormones are triggered to keep the weight on, increase hunger and cause a slower metabolism.

Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme combines proven weight loss medication, health coaching and ongoing support to help you lose weight and keep it off. We prescribe a GLP-1 medication called Wegovy, which contains the active ingredient semaglutide.

Semaglutide is clinically proven to reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer, while also reducing cravings by targeting the rewards centre in the brain.

For long-term success, changing your eating and movement habits is also crucial, which is why we offer a comprehensive programme that includes 3 core pillars of lifestyle change with the assistance of our UK clinicians.

We can help you break habits that might be impacting your weight and help you hit your weight loss goals sooner.

Get enough sleep

Did you know not getting enough sleep can have serious impacts on your metabolic processes? Research shows that not getting enough sleep can change the glucose metabolism and the hormones (like decreasing leptin levels) involved in regulating the metabolism [4].

If you're trying to improve the body's ability to stimulate metabolism, getting a consistent 8 hours of sleep a night is a great place to start.

Strength training

Strength training is another great tool to increase your metabolism. Since the amount of lean muscle tissue can help you burn more calories faster, strength training is a great way to speed up your metabolism.

Plus, if you exercise regularly, you can improve your metabolic functions and get rid of excess fat and excess weight in the body.

Eat foods to boost your metabolism

Diet and a healthy lifestyle play a massive role in your metabolism. But, it's not just about what you eat: how much of it you eat also plays a part.

Foods high in protein, fibre and healthy fats mean you're less likely to be hungry following your meal and you're less likely to consume excess calories. On the other hand, not eating enough food can impact energy storage and cause a slow metabolism.

If you've noticed some signs of a slow metabolism, here are certain foods to incorporate into your diet to boost your metabolism.

  • Avocado
  • Tempeh
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Fish
  • Lean meat
  • Chilis
  • Nuts
  • Citrus fruits

It's probably best to limit the number of refined grains, and fatty and sugary foods like chips and sugary drinks you consume as this will have the opposite effect and slow your metabolism down.

We know a slow metabolism can make you feel like the cards are stacked against you when you're trying to lose weight. But, getting to the root cause of why your metabolism slows down can help you make necessary changes, get to a healthy lifestyle and get your metabolism working faster to prevent weight gain and keep yourself at a healthy weight.