Picture this: You started a diet. Everything was going well until the calories you were consuming no longer work for weight loss. Sound familiar? If so, then you’re in the right place because I am going to outline the 13 signs of a slow metabolism you need to look out for when dieting. As well as how to increase metabolism when or if it does decide to slow down during your weight loss journey.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
The myth of a broken metabolism
The myth of a broken metabolic rate came about when people began to lose weight, then hit a plateau. The same amount of calories they ate to lose weight no longer worked. Thus, its all our metabolisms fault! Thats its job, to Adapt to the environment as a means of survival.
Our body is meant to keep us alive, it is not built to lose weight. Many people think if they cut 500 caloires a day, they will lose 1lb a week (3500 calories are in a lb of fat), basic math. However, studies have proven our bodies to be much more complicated than that.
Your metabolism is responsible for many processes in the body from regulating body temperature, energy levels, our hormones, and the ability to lose weight. It is disrespectful to our bodies to think that it can be solved by a simple math equation! Lets dig a little deeper into a more intracit equation that better represents out metabolic rate.
TDEE aka how many calories we burn
Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) Is how many calories your body burns per day and can be calcualted using this equation:
RMR: the calories you burn at rest, doing nothing at all! You can calculate this with various calculators on the internet. However, accuracy is inconclusive, just use it as a ball park estimation.
TEF: The calories your body uses to digest the food you eat
NEAT: calories burned by doing exedra tasks such as taking out the garbage, cooking, and cleaning
Scheduled activity: Calories burned during your exercise routine (running, weight lifting, etc)
RMR, NEAT, TEF, and activity will be effected when dieting. Your metabolism (RMR) will slow down as a means of conserving energy and will continue to lower as calories also lower. Since we are not eating as much food, the thermic effect of food will naturally be lower as well. Finally, NEAT and scheduled exercise will suffer due to lack of energy. You may find your lifts less intense, you are walking less per day, or doing less chores around the house. There are ways to increase metabolism which I will outline later in this post!
Signs your metabolism has slowed down
1. Low calories no longer work for you
The scale wont budge dispite your best efforts is a huge sign of a slow metabolic rate. If you have been brutally honest with yourself with the adhearance to a weight loss plan and the scale still wont budge, It is time to take another approach to weight loss known as reverse dieting.
2. sleep disterbances
The inability to fall asleep and/or stay a sleep is a sign there is something off with your metabolism. Similarily, metabolism is directly effected by quality of sleep. Lack of adiquate sleep can lead to an increase in hunger hormone ghrelin which promotes appetite and a lack of leptin (promotes satiety).
3. digestive issues
Food can take longer to pass through your digestive tract if metabolic rate is slowed. If you are not having regular bowel movements and constipation it could be a sign of a slow metabolism.
4. Irregular menstrual cycle (or none at all)
Your menstrual cycle takes a lot of energy to run! When calories get cut too low your body will prioritize more important bodily functions such as keeping your heart beating and lungs breathing. Therefore, If your menstrual cycle has become irregular or stopped all together, it could be a cause for concern.
Low estrogen levels is the most common cause for your period to stop and a lower metabolic rate. If you suspect your estrogen levels are too low – make sure you see your doctor (but read this post first)
5. hair loss
Another sign of a slow metabolism is hair loss. The body prioritizes other bodily processes over hair growth and keeping your hair healthy. Therefore, you may notice more clumps of hair coming out on your hair brush or brittle, course hair.
6. Dry skin and brittle nails
Similar to hair loss, the body will prioritize more important bodily funtions over keeping your nails health, strong, and long. Do you notice your nails braking easily? That could be a sign of a slow metabolism!
Fatigue is yet another form of you body tring to conserve energy. Feeling tired dispite getting enough sleep, drinking loads of coffee (please dont do this), and needing naps throughout the day is abnormal. Do not mistake fatigue as feeling “lazy”, chronically fatigued is a major sign something is wrong!
8. Brain fog
Your brain uses an insane amount of energy. Did you know your brain uses about 130 grams of CARBS PER DAY just to function optimally? Puts into prespective why those low carb diets dont work.
When we experience brain fog it could be because our body is using the energy that should be used for brain function for other bodily functions. Hense the scatter brain.
9. Weak immune system
Our immune response to pathogens is directly linked to our metabolism because our ability to defend ourselves from viruses and bacteria requires a lot of energy. With a slow metabolism, the immune system may be compromised causing you to get sick easily and more often.
10. Feeling cold constantly
Have you noticed your hands and feet are constantly cold? Or you cant help but wear a think coat inside dispite it being 20 degrees (Celcius). This is your body keeping your organs warm and drawing heat from your limbs in order to do so.
11. Low sex drive
Linking back to your menstrual cycle being irregular or non existant this directly effects your sex drive. A healthy libido requires healthy hormone levels which is not the case with a slow metabolism.
12. Slow pulse
a low resting heart rate can be a sign of a low metabolic rate. The average healthy heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute. However, its seen that the average joe who works out to be healthy and maintains a healthy body weight is in the range of 50-90 bpm.
you can measure your heart rate the classic way with a finger to your neck OR with various monitors like these:
13. Intense food cravings
Another sign of a slow metabolism is intense food cravings – particularly for carbs and fats. This is your bodys way of communicating it needs energy! with a slow metabolic rate energy is used at a slower rate, therefore, the brain will intise eating through cravings for high energy foods.
Bonus: low BBT temperatures (for the ladies)
Last but certainly not least, this one is for the ladies. If you chart your cycle and BBT each morning a sign of a slow metabolism is low BBT readings. A low BBT is defined as a temperature consistantly lower the 97.5 F.
If you are not currently charting your cycle, I suggest you do so! Its a great way to be in tune with your body and health. I personally use Natural cycles to track BBT as I can pair it with my oura ring for easy data collection! No more oral thermometer for me!
underlying health conditions
Underlying health issues that commonly include having a slow metabolism bay be the cause of your problems. Issues such as:
Type 2 diabities is linked to insulin resistance which can make it very difficult to lose weight. The secreation of insulin slows metabolic rate and promotes fat storage. Visit your health care practitioner if you suspect you may suffer from type 2 diabities.
Underactive thyroid disorders
Your thyroid is a little butterfly gland located in your neck and is the controller of your metabolism. The 13 reasons why your metabolism is slow (listed above) do effect the production of thyroid hormones and can be addressed with natural remedies. However, some women inherretly have underactive thyroids and a condition called hypothyroidism or hashimotos.
Menopause or perimenopause
Getting older sucks, doesnt it? Due to the decrease in estrogen levels that happen in perimenopause and menopause, our metabolisms decrease naturally. This is just a fact of life and the best way to prevent this slow down is by having adequate muscle tissue prior to going into menopause. Lift weights for your future self ladies!
How to increase a slow metabolism
Remeber to test, dont guess! First you should out rule any underlying health condition such as the ones mentioned above. You can do this online through various hormone testing services:
You can also go to your doctor to get blood work done but I find testing in the comfort of my own home to be a better way to stay on top of my levels.
First way to increase metabolism is by Reverse dieting. Yes, it is exactly how it sounds, Dieting the other way! I wont explain too much here as I have a full blog post that goes into depth on how reverse dieting can increase your metabolism. In summary – you need to eat more:)
2. Eat more protein
Remember the thermic effect of food from the TDEE equation? Well, protein is the hardest macro for your body to break down. Therefore, your body will burn more caloires digesting protein than cabs and fats, thus, increasing your metabolism.
3.Manage stress levels
The stress hormone cortisol is directly linked to fat storage particularly in the midsection. Managing stress levels is important to keep your metabolism reving! Try methods such as deep breathing and meditation to help reduce stress levels. Cycle syncing is another benefitial way for women to be in tune with their energy levels throughout the month which can help with anxiety and stress!
Sleep allows your body to reset. Your body is in a fasted state during the night that promotes fat metabolism. Additionally, our appetite will be effected by the quality of sleep we get. When we dont get enough, our appetite will increase.
5. Lift heavy weights!
Grow that muscle! Muscle is more metabolically active than fat mass. If you have more muscle mass, your metabolism will be higher than the average joe because it takes more energy to maintain.
LADIES! Dont be afraid to lift some heavy iron. I promise you will not look like a man, you will look like a sexy, strong, and vibrant GODDESS. (who can eat more food and look good doing it)
6. supplement correctly!
Last little tid bit I have for you to increase your metabolism is to supplement CORRECTLY. Common nutrient deficiencies that contribute to a slow metabolism and feeling sluggish are:
- B complex vitamins (help with metabolizing proteins, carbs, and fats)
- Vitamin D (Can help with blood sugar balance and insulin response)
- Iron(helps improve red blood cell count)
- Selenium (for thyroid function)
- Iodine (also for thyroid function)
Supplementing for you menstrual cycle is another great way to increase metabolism! Try out my favourites from Ovamoon.
Wrapping it all up!
There is boat load of information in this post on how to increase your metabolism and what might be causing it to slow down. What was one thing you learned? Leave your answer in the comment section! 👇🏼
As always, Thank you for being here! If You need further assistance with your goals such as:
- Weight loss (lets fix that slow metabolic rate!)
- hormone balance
- HA recovery
- or body image
shoot me an email or visit my “services” page for more information about how I can help!