Having a slow metabolism means your body can’t burn calories as quickly. Less burning of calories leads to more stored fat and a more difficult time losing weight.
This may be one reason why some people seem to be able to eat anything and everything without gaining weight, while others have to watch every calorie and still struggle to improve.
There are several reasons why your metabolism may be slow, but here are five common reasons and what you can do to speed things up:
- You Are Dehydrated
When you are not drinking enough water, your body needs to hold onto every drop it gets. This means all of your metabolic processes start to slow down so that you don’t use up too much water.
This situation isn’t limited to being stuck in the desert without water for days on end. Even suboptimal hydration or mild dehydration can lead to a slower metabolism.
Increase the amount of water you drink each day (not alcohol, sugary drinks, or caffeinated beverages, which can actually dehydrate you), and you will likely experience an increase in your metabolic rate—helping you lose or manage your weight.
- You Are Too Stressed
Stress weighs heavily on your body. Not only will it take a toll on your emotional well-being, but it also disrupts many of your body’s normal functions, one of which is metabolism.
Cortisol, one of the stress hormones released by your body during stress, can interfere with how your body uses insulin. This makes it more difficult for your body to regulate your blood sugars and fat storage, which can slow down your metabolism.
To reduce your stress, you can try some relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. You may also need to consider talking to a therapist if your stress is overwhelming or if you are struggling to find ways to manage it.
- Your Genes, But You Can Overcome Them
Your metabolic rate appears to be influenced by your genes. If your parents or grandparents had a slow metabolism, you may too. But even if you inherited this predisposition, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of being overweight or obese.
Your lifestyle choices likely play a much bigger role in your metabolism than your genes do. In the field of epigenetics, there’s a saying that “genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
This means that while it may be written in your genes that you are more susceptible to certain conditions, your lifestyle choices will determine whether or not those genetic predispositions are triggered.
If you exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet, and manage your stress, you might not experience a slow metabolism—even if it runs in your family.
- Your Room Is Too Hot
Metabolism is a thermogenic process, which means it generates heat. You can touch your belly and feel its warmth as food is broken down and digested.
If your environment is too hot, your body may need to slow down its metabolic processes to prevent your body temperature from rising too high.
To keep your metabolism functioning optimally, make sure the temperature in your room is cool—around 66-69 degrees Fahrenheit is good, especially at night.
- You Aren’t Sleeping Enough
While you sleep, your digestive organs continue to work, digesting the food you ate earlier in the day, absorbing the nutrients, and synthesizing new cells.
If you’re not getting adequate high-quality sleep, your metabolism may slow down or not work as efficiently as it should. A lack of quality sleep can also lead to weight gain, resulting in a slower metabolism.
To ensure you are getting good sleep, establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Ensure your bedroom environment is cool, dark, and quiet, and avoid using screens in the hours leading up to bedtime.