The term “slow metabolism” gets thrown around often. It’s a scapegoat for many ailments and unpleasant symptoms, but do you know the signs that your metabolism is actually too slow?
One of the telltale symptoms of a slow metabolism is weight gain. Your metabolism dictates how fast you burn calories, and when it slows, there are more calories left over from each meal for your body to convert into fat. Stubborn weight gain follows naturally.
When your metabolism slows down, your body also gets less energy from the food you eat, leading to a drop in overall energy. You might find yourself unable to sleep restfully, forcing you to rely on caffeine just to make it through each day.
One of the more consequential symptoms of a slow metabolism, though, is a slow thyroid. Every organ in your body relies on the thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism, or slow thyroid production, can result in always feeling cold, gaining weight, experiencing fatigue, losing hair, and a slew of other unpleasant side effects.
Fortunately, there are ways to naturally boost your metabolism through a few simple changes to your diet.
Metabolism and Fitness
In addition to the other physical symptoms I’ve mentioned, a slow metabolism can affect your results in the gym. The adage in weight loss, dieting, and exercise is that it’s all a game of willpower. If you work hard enough, you can achieve any goal. While you do need to put forth effort to achieve and maintain your good health and physical fitness, most of that work can be thwarted by a slow metabolism.
An inability to burn calories efficiently can be enough to make your body hold onto excess weight, regardless of how hard you work in the gym or how well you eat. The harder you work, the more frustrating this phenomenon can be.
Even more frustrating, a slow metabolism can also deprive you of energy to work hard in the first place. The resulting fatigue and lack of motivation can stop you from going to the gym, sticking to healthy meals, and making other positive choices about your health.
Boost Your Metabolism With Better Nutrition
While a slow metabolism isn’t always caused by nutrient deficiency — other common factors include overdieting and overexercising, for example — a healthy metabolism does rely on your body receiving enough of the nutrients on which it relies.
Properly nourishing your body with essential nutrients is a great strategy for healing your metabolism, regardless of why it has slowed. Start by ensuring your diet includes the following essential nutrients:
Your body needs iron to grow muscle and maintain the hemoglobin content in your blood. Iron deficiency, or anemia, can make you sluggish and slow your metabolism by inhibiting oxygen flow to your muscles and tissues.
Green vegetables like spinach and kale have healthy levels of iron, but they lack many of the cofactors you need to absorb iron efficiently. High-quality sources of red meat contain all of these cofactors and help keep your metabolism appropriately revved up. Eat grass-fed red meat with a liberal serving of vegetables two to three times a week to keep your iron where it should be.
As mentioned above, a healthy thyroid is one of the most crucial parts of a healthy metabolism. Without enough selenium, which is essential for producing active thyroid hormone and reducing thyroid damage, the gland can’t do its job well.
Selenium is abundant in wild-caught fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Eat fish several times a week to make sure you get enough high-quality protein as well as selenium. If you don’t like fish, you can also find selenium in Brazil nuts. Consuming just a few nuts a day has helped many people successfully keep their selenium levels up.
3. Vitamin D.
Thyroid hormone is a major factor in your metabolism, but it isn’t the only important hormone. Vitamin D helps you keep your other hormones properly balanced, which directly relates to your metabolism, energy, and muscle mass.
One of the best ways to get enough vitamin D is through exposure to the sun. Get some sunlight for at least 20 to 60 minutes a day to help keep your vitamin D levels even. If you live in a colder climate and suffer from low vitamin D during the winter months, try purchasing a sun lamp or speaking with your physician about nutritional supplements.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids form the building blocks of cell membranes throughout your body, and they’re well-known for their ability to help control tissue inflammation. They also keep your blood sugar stable, which is essential for regulating your metabolism.
Healthy fats found in grass-fed beef, bison, elk, free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish contain plenty of omega-3s. Be mindful of adding a variety of them to every single meal, and you’ll consume more than enough to give your metabolism the boost it needs. You’ll also improve your ability to prevent heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.
A slow metabolism can explain many obstacles you might experience on your journey to achieving your health and fitness goals. By adding some key nutrients to your diet, you can overcome these hurdles and stop letting a slow metabolism hold you back from success.