Contributed by: Dr. Dhrity Vats
Metabolism is how the body turns calories into energy. It is responsible for how fast or how slow our bodies transform what we eat and drink into usable fuel for energy. The energy we use is in the form of calories. So, when your doctor or trainer says that you have a slow metabolism, it means that your body is hanging onto calories, causing unwanted weight gain. Body temperature, energy level and how easily we lose and gain weight are all regulated by our metabolism. So if you are down with energy levels and not losing weight as desired, your slow metabolism could be the hidden culprit. But what causes this to happen?
Lifestyle habits and underlying medical conditions may result in a slowdown of metabolic rates. Diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, low estrogen and testosterone levels also impact metabolic rate negatively. Also, as we age, slow metabolism symptoms begin to surface. Eating too much of heat and omega 5 fatty acids tend to slow down one’s metabolism. Other factors that are not in our control and can be blamed for a slow metabolism, apart from age, are sex and hereditary pattern.
Underlying health issues leading to slow metabolism
Thyroid plays an important role in regulating the metabolism and overall energy production. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for people with hypothyroidism to feel tired, sluggish and experience weight gain.
In diabetes, high blood sugar levels fools the body into believing there is lots of energy around, resulting in a slowdown in metabolism and leading to weight gain. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are also two reasons of a slow metabolism.
With the increase in age in both males and females the estrogen (female hormone) and testosterone (male hormones) are produced less which increases fat mass and decreases lean mass.
Food Habits that leads to Slow Metabolism
People who tend to eat food high in refined sugars and/or saturated fat, food with poor nutritional value or those ones who are on a very restrictive caloric diet on a regular basis tend to have a slower metabolism. Crash diets cause muscle and water mass loss, rather than fat, slowing down your metabolism. People eating a non-balanced diet can have a deficiency of vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. The deficit of these macronutrients and micronutrients can affect the rate of our metabolism. Having more of wheat products also reduce your metabolic rate. Altering these food habits can increase the rate of metabolism.
What Happens when you have Slow Metabolism
The body has a rate at which it digests and breaks down the food. When this metabolic rate reduces or slows, then our body starts showing some typical symptoms which shall not be confused with any disease. Symptoms of slow metabolism include gaining weight, inability to lose weight, lethargy, hair loss, feeling cold most of the time, dry, cracked scaly skin, feeling of being bloated, frequent headaches and undue sugar cravings.
Things you can do to fix a slow metabolism
If you feel that no matter what, you tend to gain weight, it could be due to slow metabolism, but the brighter side is that you can fix it. There are ways and methods which, when followed can increase your metabolism.
- Eat the greens: Add lots of fiber to your diet. Include cucumbers, avocados, grapes, spinach, lettuce and cabbage.
- Eat healthy fats: include nuts like almonds soaked in water overnight and pine nuts.
- Avoid sugars: Sugar in any form would further slow the breakdown of the micronutrients of food.
- Add tea or caffeine in your diet. Drinking tea or coffee increases your metabolism and alertness level.
- Include foods that give high energy like omega 3 fatty acids present in few nuts and salmon fish.
- Exercise or walk a little more: Plan an exercise regime focusing only to lose calories and overall body toning and conditioning. Increase your step count as and when possible. Take stairs instead of the lift, walk while you talk on the phone or read a mail on the phone.
- Take adequate rest and a sound sleep: When sleeping patterns are altered, the body slows the metabolism leading to sugar cravings and lethargy.
Challenge…Losing weight with slow metabolism
If you are on the higher side of the weighing scale and want to lose weight or you are trying hard to lose weight but unable to, then you should keep a check on the metabolic rate of your body. To lose weight, you either have to reduce the intake of calories taken in from food and liquid or increase the number of calories burnt, or both.
For those who have a slow metabolism you should follow
- Checkup of your thyroid stimulating hormone
- A control on intake of carbohydrates. Try using simpler carbohydrates which can be broken down easily
- Increase physical activity like aerobics or running which boost the metabolism too.
Slow metabolism may have slowed you down but you can always rise up and change the scenario. To make the change, you have to first make a choice.
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