What causes a “slow metabolism” and how do you fix it?

I see products or articles on the internet all the time claiming that they can “increase your metabolism”.  To be perfectly blunt, they’re all a scam. (Usually it’s a pill that someone is trying to get you to buy… or a particular food they’re trying to convince you that if you eat more of it, your metabolism will go into over-drive or something).  The truth is that there are only two legitimate ways to increase your metabolism, which I’ll discuss later in this write-up. But before we can talk about ways to increase your metabolism, we probably need to understand….

The causes of a “slow metabolism”

Slow Hormones, or lack thereof:  This is pretty uncommon (If you believe you all into this category and you’ve never had blood-work done to confirm it, you probably don’t fall into this category).  This is easily confirmed by a doctor who can order a blood-test to check your levels of estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid to confirm they’re within a normal range for your age.

Stress:  This isn’t actually a direct cause of a slower metabolism so much as an indirect cause  Stress causes the production of the hormone known as “cortisol”, and cortisol can cause all sorts of other side-effects — with over-eating being the most common.  (incorporating good workouts and cardio into your daily routine is the best remedy if you’re in this situation).

Not eating enough food:  Perpetual dieters often don’t understand that dropping calories below the starvation threshold can actually cause something called “metabolic adaptation”. That is — your body responds to the poverty-level calories you’re feeding it by drastically reducing the energy it produces.  The net result? You feel tired all the time, and you STILL don’t lose any weight.  Not under-eating is just as important as not over-eating!

And BY FAR the most common cause…. Lack of muscle: People who are perpetual dieters (especially people who’ve done a lot of crash dieting) without any accompanying strength training almost always fit into this category (even though they falsely attribute their slow metabolism to one of the other areas, it’s exceptionally rare for people who fit this profile).  The crash / rapid dieting programs they’ve done in the past have done more to burn muscle than fat, and each ounce of muscle burned results in an ever-slowing metabolism.

Yo-yo dieters generally have no muscle left by the time they’ve done a handful of these diets, and the damage to their metabolism (due to the overall lack of muscle) is what causes their metabolism to be significantly slower than normal. If you’ve done crash diets, or have been a perpetual yo-yo-dieter in the past, lack of muscle is almost 100% certain to be the cause of your slow metabolism.

I’ve written a lengthy article on how and why yo-yo dieting and crash-diets cause metabolic damage… take a look at it here, if you’re skeptical.

How to increase your metabolism

As stated at the top — there are a zillion products on the market that promise to “increase your metabolism” and they’re universally a scam — or they don’t QUITE work the way they explain. There are only three known ways to boost your metabolism.

Fix your lifestyle:  Get enough sleep, get your hormones in check, and make sure you are eating enough food.  If your metabolism is slow due to any of these factors, fixing the underlying cause will obviously help!!

Exercise:  Believe it or not, regular, consistent exercise (3 to 4 hours per week) actually stimulates the production of hormones that will boost your metabolism. Science has proven that people who exercise can actually increase their RESTING metabolic rate by as much as 10 to 15 percent over the course of just a few months with regular exercise.  In other words, the exercise ITSELF burns calories, but the exercise ALSO stimulates your metabolism to burn more calories while you’re RESTING as well. It’s a double-bonus!

Add muscle -mass:  This is honestly the only other scientifically proven method of boosting your metabolism over the long-term.  No pills, secret-foods, or diets are going to do the trick.  In fact, muscle-mass is the magic solution to maintaining weight once it’s gone, to increasing your metabolism so you can burn more calories doing normal every day activities (proven in this study), and added muscle-mass is the only known way to repair the severe metabolic damage caused by yo-yo and crash dieting.

Not sure how to do it?  Start here, with a strength-training routine you can do from home with NO equipment!