You may feel tired, cold, or that you’ve gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit sluggish. You may be convinced that you have a slow metabolism.
Metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in, calories out.” Metabolism includes all of the body’s biochemical reactions 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 (measured in calories). Here are a few of the common reasons for a slow metabolism and some easy metabolism-boosting tips.
Low Thyroid Hormones
Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism. When it starts producing fewer hormones, it’s a sign of a slowing metabolism. The thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active. Ideally they 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. Also try metabolism-boosting, thyroid-loving selenium-rich chocolate chia seed pudding.
History of Dieting
Weight loss tends to result in a slower metabolic rate. 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. Though dieting can lead to a reduction in the amount of fat in your body, it can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle — and more muscle means a faster resting metabolic rate.
Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.
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, gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing metabolism. Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat. That 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.
Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles burn fuel to move and do work — you can tell because you get 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.
Tip: Incorporate more movement into your day, including regular exercise.
Lack of Sleep
There is plenty of research that shows the influence sleep has on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is that women need seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least seven hours of sleep every night.
This story originally appeared on Well Within Beauty.