Why is My Metabolism Slow?

You may feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

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

What can slow my 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 I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

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 just to “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 is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

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

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.

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 can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip: Incorporate movement into your day. Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has 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.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

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

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.

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: Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

Let’s End Adrenal Fatigue Together

Adrenal Fatigue

This is fast becoming an epidemic in our current society.   Have you noticed any of the following symptoms in your own life and body?

  1. You feel tired for no reason.
  2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  3. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
  4. You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
  5. You crave salty and sweet snacks.
  6. You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.

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Due to our busy and stressful lifestyles these days, our adrenal glands are being overly taxed and are leaving many in dire need of serious attention!! Think about your adrenal glands as a bank account. If you keep withdrawing money and never replenish the funds, you will eventually be overdrawn, right? Now look at our lives these days.  We are always on the go. We are feeding our bodies processed and refined “foods” (I don’t really consider these items as “food” so hence the quotation marks!). We are living on energy drinks to perk us up; we are needing caffeine to wake us up in the morning and then requiring a glass of wine (or more) at night to wind down. We are not sleeping as soundly or as much as we need to and we are definitely NOT taking a pause in our days because there’s just too darned much to do!!!

This describes the average American’s (or most people world-wide) lifestyle.  Over time, this routine depletes our adrenal reserves and leaves us with the symptoms above.

Then, add in the holiday season or a busier time of life for you and it’s over-drive time and we tend to think that we can “make up for it” later when things settle down; but that just doesn’t happen all on it’s own. We need to take responsibility NOW and take care of our bodies’ needs or there may be more issues down the road that are irreversible.

Let’s talk a bit about how our adrenals work and how they become overly taxed;

Our adrenal glands help us deal with the “fight or flight” syndrome or typical stress related issues.  But think about this syndrome happening day after day all day with no relief? You go to sleep thinking about stressful situations and you wake up knowing the stress is still there and you’re constantly running or in that “flight” state that is taxing your body with limited, or no, rest. The adrenal glands become overly drained and eventually will burn out.

An interesting new finding in the detection of adrenal fatigue and exhaustion is muscular and joint pain. Five skeletal muscles are related to adrenal gland function: hip to knee region, inner thigh region, calf regions and feet.  You will have weakness in one or more of these muscles when the adrenal glands are malfunctioning. Because of the muscle attachments in the low body, you can have leg,  low back and pelvic area pain. Some people will have problems in just one area while others will have a combination or all of these muscle/joint problems. In any case, if you have knee pain, low-back and pelvic pain, sore and tired feet, fallen arches or ankles that constantly sprain – you really need to pay attention! We have been taught to not listen to our bodies.  When symptoms arise, we are told to “cover it up” and take an aspirin, right? How about dealing with the issues that arise instead? Our bodies are resilient and only have issues when there is a problem to be remedied. So let’s stop the insanity and listen up! 

Adrenal fatigue can begin to show up in people as early as in the mid-20’s and become more pronounced in the mid-40 age ranges.  It also affects women who are pre-menopausal or going through menopause.

What to do if you think you may be suffering from this issue? You can always visit your doctor and get tested to see if it is in fact, your problem. Or you could decide today that regardless of the testing, if your body is having issues such as these…it is not how your body should feel.  Starting fresh with a “reboot” and better habits that can change any unhealthy outcomes should be the next step no matter what.

The question has been asked whether we can permanently damage our adrenal glands or can they be restored?

The answer, you’ll be happy to know, is that they can definitely be restored. However, if you don’t take action and just decide to “live with it”; your chances of having major issues as a result later, rises. Think about when you are injured or have a setback with an illness or infection; when your adrenals are taxed and your body isn’t able to work properly to restore your health, you will not recover at the normal pace. You may also have imbalances in the immune system and maybe even develop an auto-immune condition over time. Potentially, it can lead to some serious consequences but addressed sooner than later, will allow you to better overcome these problems and enjoy better health.

I also hear from so many of my clients and people who are dealing with extra fat storages due to adrenal fatigue. Belly fat that won’t budge? Listen up….

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How do our adrenals and fatigue result in extra body fat? First of all, cortisol is our main stress hormone. It increases our insulin production. Insulin is a fat “storer”, so you are basically multiplying the fat storage with extra cortisol.  These factors can make you insulin resistant and this can lead to becoming pre-diabetic over time; and eventually diabetic, if not addressed.  Secondly, it can affect your thyroid; and your thyroid is your metabolism. When you have high cortisol levels, it completely supresses your thyroid function.

Like mentioned above, our bodies are pretty adaptable and when we are in the adaptation phase and the beginning of stress – what initially happens is the cortisol levels will elevate – which is just the body’s attempt to try to normalize and power through to keep you going as you normally would. It is working to keep you safe at all times and in survival mode. But eventually, that cannot keep up forever and the opposite will occur.

How can we reverse these issues?

#1: Good Quality Sleep!

We are tired, right? Fatigue is a symptom of adrenal fatigue but you’ll notice that at night, your mind just won’t shut off. You can’t relax and may even get more stressfully energetic. It’s that “Tired but Wired” pattern. You know you have to go to sleep because you have to get up in a few hours but at the same time, you can’t calm your mind down.

When you sleep, your adrenal glands are being recharged.  Your “bank account” is growing. The required amount of adequate sleep is 7-8 hours each night. I hear too often people tell me, but I only need 4-6 hours of sleep and I’m fine. Or “I can’t sleep that long” but physiologically, this deficiency has an effect on your body. So make sleep a priority.

#2: Do the RIGHT type of exercise.

Exercise can decrease stress levels but it can also elevate cortisol levels.  If you are feeling some of the issues listed above, you may need to change up your workouts to help alleviate added stress.  One exercise that has been known to cause added stress is running. Again, it can raise your “feel good” hormones for a time but running for 30-45 minutes, or more, each and every day can elevate those cortisol levels more than you know.  If you already have symptoms of adrenal fatigue,  you would be wiser to choose some low intensity workouts instead. Some examples would be yoga, PiYo, or even H.I.I.T. workouts; where you work hard for a short time and then recover briefly.

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Running more than 3 miles will increase cortisol levels but it’s not always a bad thing. 🙂 We need to have some cortisol and we have spikes throughout our days. The thing to look for is how your overall well being is and if you’re feeling groggy.

#3: Hit the PAUSE button

Many of us run from task to task and never really take a break or hit the pause for a bit during the day. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness for about 10-15 minutes a day will help you get in tune with your body.  Prayer is also a great form of meditation.  PiYo is a great pause with some exercise added in too.

#4: Your Diet

Your adrenal glands require specific nutrients to make the right hormones.  If you follow the typical western diet and eat a lot of processed foods, white foods and fast foods, your diet may be lacking the essential vitamins needed to make your healthy hormones. The easiest way to alleviate this issue is to add in supplements to offset the imbalances and choose the cleanest and purest foods sources.

Shakeology will close the gaps in your daily nutrition; and eating a clean food diet will seal the deal.

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Another important factor is to watch for undetected food allergies.  90% of our food allergies can be due to dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, soy, corn and/or peanuts.  If you are unsure whether you suffer from food allergies, the best practice is to start a 30 day elimination diet and cut out these food sources to see how your body responds. After the month is over, start to introduce the foods back one at a time, and take note of the results or how your body feels.

#5: Reduce stimulants

Caffeine is an adrenal stimulant so it actually is a hormone that will increase your blood sugar levels.  Do you have a problem with caffeine? To best find out, monitor your systems to see. If you skip your morning coffee and have a raging headache because of it, you definitely have a problem.  White sugar is another stimulant to be reduced or omitted; as well as alcohol.  Skipping those nasty energy drinks will help you get a better handle on your issues.

All in all, it may seem like a ton of work to help your symptoms and alleviate any unnecessary health issues down the road; but it doesn’t have to be. I invite you to use the system that has been helping me with my current success on these issues. Using our 3-Day Refresh to clean out your system and “re-set” your body internally and then jumping into a clean meal plan with daily Shakeology and PiYo workouts will get you the best of all your results…both physically, mentally, health-wise and peace of mind. To apply for my next support group to alleviate adrenal fatigue and restore your body with others on the same mission, please fill in the survey here and let’s get us on track to a healthier, happier and more successful year ahead!! https://kathyprofitness.wufoo.com/forms/z1xykdnw0c4aqh8/