If your metabolism seems to have changed and isn’t working as well for you as it has in the past, you’re not alone! Metabolism is the name for the chemical processes that are taking place in your body all the time, to convert what you eat and drink into the energy needed to run all your physical functions. Over the course of your life, your lifestyle can have an impact on how effectively your metabolism operates.
A person with a sluggish metabolism may be experiencing a range of symptoms that negatively impact their enjoyment of life. You may feel tired or cold all the time, or have consistently low energy levels. You also may be frequently constipated and bloated, or gain weight. An underperforming metabolism can even cause you to experience brain fog, making it hard to keep your thoughts focused and clear.
Wondering how this happened to you? Although there are cases where extreme sluggish metabolism can be due to an underlying health problem, often it is the result of causes that are easily addressed. The common instigators of sluggish metabolism are:
Low muscle mass
Too much time sitting down
It is possible to address these underlying causes and reverse their effect on your metabolism!
Firstly, if you suspect the underlying reason is low muscle mass and/or spending too much time sitting, strength training will make a positive impact on your metabolism. Strength training does not have to mean going into a gym and lifting weights, although if you have them, using weights is great! You can use your own body weight as resistance. Pushups, planks, lunges and squats are all examples of moves that you can do without props to increase muscle mass.
Not consuming adequate calories will cause your metabolism to slow in an attempt to protect your body. If this goes on long enough, this can create hormone imbalances as well as water retention and bloating. In the case that you have been on a restrictive diet or recognize you’re under-eating, adding more calories in slowly will help you get your body to the place where your metabolism can function correctly. The medically advisable process to do this is to add in 100 calories a day to your food consumption for approximately a month. The foods added should be healthy calories, such as proteins, whole grains or vegetables. After the first month, add an additional 100 calories a day and monitor how you are feeling week-to-week to gauge whether you should continue to add these small 100 calorie increments. If your symptoms are relieved and you are feeling well, you have found the right level. Don’t forget to account for days when you are more physically active and consume replacement calories!
Thirdly, we come to the elusive health hero - sleep! It’s so hard to train ourselves to keep up good sleep habits when we live such busy lives. Our bodies need 7 to 9 hours every night. Your metabolic system is releasing hormones and suppressing others while at rest to help your body properly manage hunger. After just a few days of poor sleep, your brain’s frontal lobe activity is subdued, sending your brain’s reward center looking for easy food-related fixes to make you feel better, while leaving you feeling too worn out to get up and move your body around. Identify the triggers that are preventing you from getting good sleep: is it room temperature? Caffeine or sugar too close to bedtime? Blue light from electronic devices? Lack of consistent bedtime and waking time? Setting up a consistent bedtime routine and schedule will help support you in getting the healing rest that will get your metabolic system back online.
Believe it or not, hydration is a huge factor in boosting your metabolism! Dehydration compromises healthy metabolic function. When your metabolism is engaged in breaking down molecules to convert them into energy, it is essential that there is adequate water in your system to effectively complete the process. Medical studies even show that drinking two cups of water leads to a 30% average increase in metabolic rate in healthy adults (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003). Water is also sending electrolytes to trigger your muscles when you move, this is essential in order for any exercise you do to be the most effective. Here is a favorite DIY electrolyte beverage recipe I love:
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups water (filtered or raw coconut water)
2 tbsps raw honey
1/8 tsp Himalayan pink salt
It may take some time to reverse a sluggish metabolism, but it is possible with some simple and consistent effort. Up to three months to experience changes is a reasonable time frame. Be patient with yourself, it will be worth the effort!
If you are looking for support on your journey to restore your metabolism, I’d love to work with you! Request a strategy call and I’ll be in touch to discuss how I can assist your specific needs and goals.