Are you feeling tired, cold a lot or gained a little extra weight? Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”, as do you.
One thing you might not have thought of is perhaps your metabolism is a tad slow.
So why does this happen? Why do our 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). Read a bit more about metabolism and your metabolic rate here.
We know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the good ‘ol“calories in calories out”, however, rather than overwhelm you with too much info,I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down, and stick to some simple examples, otherwise you really will be snoozing ;-).
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 there’s more to kicking it up a notch than just “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 naturopath about having your thyroid hormones tested. They’ll be able to look at where you’re results sit within the range, and interpret them from a holistic perspective.
Your history of dieting
When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down too. This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with life and all the necessary functions its performs to survive, and do it all with less food.
While dieting can lead to a reduction in your amount of fat, it also unfortunately can lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have. And more muscle means a faster resting metabolic rate. So less muscle means……..a slower resting metabolic rate, you get the idea ;-).
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 simply because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one.
Yet of course 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. And let’s be honest, who likes the idea of burning calories when your not actually working out?!
Tip: Do some weight/strength 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’ll start getting hotter.
Even little things can add up. Walking a bit further than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the lift can all contribute to more activity in your day.
Tip: Incorporate movement into your day. Aim for as much incidental exercise as possible. Also, try to get into aregularworkout routine.
Lack of sleep
There’s plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. If your body feels sleep deprived, it will slow down your metabolism in order to conserve energy. It also impacts your hormones associated with eating – increasing ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and decreasing leptin (the hormone that tells us to stop eating). Anyone see a problem with this if you’re trying to lose weight?
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.
So, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, try making a change to one or all of the above and see how you go bumping up that metabolism. And if you’re looking for some more simple steps you can try, grab my free ebook here and give those a go and you’ll soon start to see a difference J.
Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
Selenium is a key component of the molecules needed by your body to create and utilise your thyroid hormones. And, as we just learnt, your thyroid helps control your metabolism.
Brazil nuts are the #1 food source for selenium. Just one or two a day can help maintain a healthy level of selenium in your body.
Here’s a recipe to get your Brazil Nut fix J
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.