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How to speed up a slow metabolism

15/07/2021

Do you ever feel like you have a ‘slow’ metabolism? Do you struggle to shift the pounds despite feeling you’re trying so hard? You may be right… but not the end of the world if you know how to speed up your metabolism! Let me walk you through what it is, how it works, why it may be ‘slow’ and how you can speed it up!

Firstly, what exactly are we talking about when we refer to our metabolism?

Simply put, our total metabolic rate can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Thermogenesis
    This is the breakdown process where our body converts the food we eat into energy that can be used to carry out all sorts of functions.
  2. Resting Metabolic rate (RMR)
    Think about this as the energy or calories required for ‘involuntary’ actions, like breathing, brain function and the maintenance of optimal body temperature. This may also be known as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
  3. Activity factor
    We partake in ‘voluntary’ movement throughout the day, whether it be a walk in the park, walking up and down stairs or an intense workout. This movement requires energy!

What are the possible reasons for your slow metabolism?

  1. Underlying health conditions
    Such as Hypothyroidism or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome have the common symptom of weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Please speak to your doctor if you think this may be the case.
  2. Your age may be slowing down your metabolism
    Unfortunately, as we get older, our metabolism naturally slows down (1). This is because we tend to lose muscle mass as we get older, which means we are burning less calories. Increased muscle mass increases our metabolism!
  3. You carry certain genes that slow down your metabolism
    Your DNA has a role to play in every system and process in your body, your metabolism being no exception. If you are one of the 2 in 5 people who aren’t blessed with a desirable variant of the UCP1 gene such as the AA variant (which would give you a normal RMR) you will be required to work harder to lose weight with a higher energy deficit.You might have the GG or GA variant of the UCP1 gene which causes lower resting metabolic rate (RMR), which means slower energy burning abilities (2). There is lots of variation in RMR between people, everyone is different! This means many people are eating too little for their requirements – potentially causing starvation mode and a lack of weight loss and others are eating too much to see the results they desire.

Some simple steps to increase your overall total energy output or ‘increase your metabolism’

  1. Resistance training
    Resistance training increases your muscle mass! The more muscle you have the more metabolically active your body is and therefore requires more energy (calories) at rest
  2. Increase thermogenesis
    Thermogenesis is the process our body uses to break down food. We can increase thermogenesis by eating foods that contain nutrients that are tough to break down, such as fibre requires the body to burn more fuel (think veggies, whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds!)
  3. Stop starving yourself
    Yes, for weight loss we do need to decrease our intake. BUT, there is a happy medium. When it comes to weight loss, less is not always better. The more the body feels ‘starved’ the faster it conserves energy as a protective mechanism (lowering RMR)… low food intake also results in low thermogenesis! This will not only hinder weight loss, but also the body will have to take energy from systems like your immunity to use for “more important” systems like the heart and brain as it’s not getting enough to keep everything functioning optimally!

Eating The DNA Way can support with your weight loss goals and help you understand underlying issues with your diet that may be hindering your progress.

References:

(1)  Nagai N et al. UCP1 genetic polymorphism (-3826A/G) diminishes resting energy expenditure and thermoregulatory sympathetic nervous system activity in young females. Int J Obesity. 2011;35:1050-5.

(2)  Shimokata H, Kuzuya F. [Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition]. Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 1993 Jul;30(7):572-6. Japanese. doi: 10.3143/geriatrics.30.572. PMID: 8361073.

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