Is a slow metabolism keeping you from losing weight? Can you do anything to speed it up?
If you are unhappy with your weight or frustrated by your inability to lose weight, you’ve probably wondered whether you have a slow metabolism.
First, let’s define Metabolism.
Metabolism refers to your basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest. Like sitting and watching TV or reading this article. This is the amount of energy your body uses to maintain basic functions like breathing, pumping blood, blinking, and maintaining your body temperature.
For a healthy adult, this is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 to 1600 calories per day. However, there are some factors that can lower the number of calories your body burns per day and increase the number of calories your body burns per day.
What decreases your metabolism?
- Losing weight. The smaller your body, the fewer calories it takes to maintain it.
- Losing weight too quickly. The problem with rapid weight loss is that you inevitably lose muscle in addition to losing fat. And when you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down.
- Restricting too many calories. Dramatically restricting calories for more than a few days can also lower your metabolism.
- Losing muscle. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than other tissues such as bone and fat. So again when you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down.
- Getting older. We also inevitably lose muscle tissue as we get older, which leads to a slower metabolism. As a result, we generally need fewer calories as we age.
- Low thyroid function. One of the many things the thyroid gland does is regulate your metabolism. If your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows. You can have your thyroid function tested if you suspect that it is a factor. If it is low, your doctor will probably suggest replacement thyroid hormone, which can help. Keep in mind, thyroid issues are pretty rare. Only 5% of the US population suffer from them.
Ways to Increase Your Metabolism?
- Exercise more. Exercise spikes not only your metabolism.
- Gain muscle. Just as losing weight decreases the number of calories you burn, gaining muscle increases the number of calories you burn. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Some say, “muscles are like the engine of your car. The bigger the engine the more fuel you burn. So having more muscle will burn more calories.”
- Eat more protein. Protein takes more effort for your body to digest than fat or carbs, so eating more protein can help you burn more calories. Keep in mind its not as significant as you might think. At best, you might burn an extra 10-20 calories per day.
- Chill. Your body burns calories in order to keep your body warm. The cooler your environment, the more calories it takes. Turning down the heat, taking cold showers, and drinking ice water can increase your calorie burn. Again, you might only burn an extra 10-20 calories per day.
- Eat metabolism-boosting foods. There are also some foods and herbs, including hot peppers, vinegar (any kind), and green tea, which have been demonstrated to increase the rate at which your body burns calories. But again, its not many, maybe 10-20 calories per day at best.
How to Preserve your Metabolism
- Prioritize weight training.
- Avoid quick fix diets, extended fasting, or very low calorie diets.
- Take your time when you are losing weight. Rule of thumb, don’t lose more than 2 lbs per week.
- Consume sufficient protein, which slightly helps to prevent the loss of muscle during weight loss.
- Say no to all those “metabolism boosting pills”