How Do You Know If You Have A Slow Metabolism?

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Written By Jessica Roberts

Blogger, health enthusiast and amateur cook.

Metabolism has a critical role to play in the number of calories your body burns every day. This means if your metabolism is not working as per its original design, you may have a hard time losing weight. Improper metabolism may also mean a host of other health and body issues.

Your metabolic rate can be measured by your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). BMR is the calories you burn during inactivity, such as lying in bed. And TDEE is representative of the daily calories burned which include all activity during the day.

Even if your metabolism is good, you will gain weight if you take in more than the number of calories in your TDEE. Conversely, you will lose weight if you eat fewer than your TDEE calorie number.

What Causes the Metabolism to Slow Down?

There are several reasons why your metabolism may not be in correct working order.

thyroid word art in the shape of an apple
The thyroid is at the center of many common health issues.

• Hypothyroidism

A medical condition that could be directly linked to poor metabolism is hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid.

The thyroid is pivotal for metabolism regulation and total energy production. This is why it’s quite common to see people with hypothyroidism feeling sluggish and tired at all times, in addition to having weight issues.

• Diabetes

Most people often believe their thyroid is causing all their metabolism problems, overlooking other likely medical causes of a slow metabolism. A disease such as diabetes can also absolutely hurt your metabolism.

Though there isn’t much clarity as to why people above-mentioned have metabolism issues and trouble losing weight, anecdotal pieces of evidence have time and again proven that diabetes and poor metabolism go hand in hand.

This may be due to the increased sugar levels that make the body believe there’s sufficient amount of energy available, resulting in a metabolism slowdown.

• Higher Fat-to-Muscle Ratio

Slow metabolism is likely if the body has a lot more fat than muscle. Fatty tissue isn’t as metabolically active as lean body tissue. The higher lean mass is one of the reasons why men have quicker metabolism than women. With age, the muscle tissue declines, which is why middle-aged adults find it hard to keep fat away.

Moreover, people who reduce their calorie intake in the hopes of losing weight end up inducing a muscle tissue breakdown, thereby contributing to a slow metabolism.

4 Signs You May Have a Slower Metabolism

So what is the best way to tell if your metabolism is not normal? Well, the following signs of a slow metabolism should give you some perspective.

1.Unable to Lose Weight

As aforementioned, the inability to lose weight even after working hard in the gym and keeping a regular check on food consumption may mean your metabolism is at fault. You could have trouble losing weight for many other reasons, but poor metabolism is probably the number one culprit.

woman preparing for a workout
Fighting against a slowing metabolism can make it difficult to get in shape

A sluggish metabolism doesn’t just make it harder to shed that additional flab, but it also contributes to weight gain.

If your daily calorie intake is way above recommended levels, you are consuming food with little nutritional value, or if you don’t indulge in enough physical activity, weight gain would be the obvious outcome. You cannot blame the metabolism here.

However, if you’ve come clean on your eating and exercising, but your weight somehow still manages to go up, your metabolism may then be playing spoilsport.

2.  Skin and Hair Problems

The hormones that regulate metabolism also have a role to play in keeping the skin, nails, and hair healthy. Therefore, if these hormones are not doing their job, you may start noticing the impact on your skin and hair too.

Skin and hair issues could be due to multiple reasons. But if you’re having weight issues, despite leading a healthy lifestyle, and you are prone to skin breakouts and brittle or damaged hair, this may be a sign that your vanity nightmares are a result of metabolism hormones that are out of balance.

cracked heels - back view
Cracked heels are one of the common symptoms of a metabolism problem

Hair loss, dry and chapped skin, and cracked heels are common signs of a metabolic disorder. In fact, cracked heels are a strong indicator your thyroid gland needs to be looked at.

Cellulite is another type of skin problem caused by a slow metabolism. Even many fit ladies have cellulite on the rear of their hips and thighs. And that’s quite normal. But if you start seeing those marks on the front of your thighs and hips, then it could be a metabolism-related issue.

3. Feeling Tired, Always

Being tired for most parts of the day is a sign of metabolism dysfunction. Fatigue and lethargic behavior could also be due to major stress, extreme physical and mental activity, improper diet and sleep, etc.

However, if you are tired and cannot realistically correlate the feeling of exhaustiveness to any of the above mentioned causes of fatigue, you may have to put the blame on metabolism.

Vitamin B or iron deficiencies could cause anemia, decreasing your red blood cell (RBC) count and slowing down your rate of metabolism in the process.

4. Bad Sugar Cravings

candy in the shape of a heart
Constant candy cravings can sabotage a healthy diet

People born with a sweet tooth are naturally more inclined toward sweets than those who view sweets only as a dessert. However, even individuals who love sweets are not supposed to have constant cravings for confectioneries. In case you do, your metabolism may be off balance.

Our adrenal glands are known to play an important role in proper metabolism functioning. The adrenals determine when and how much stored fat the body should release for energy production, particularly in the second half of the day. If this regulation act doesn’t work as per plan, your blood sugar will drop, and you will start craving for simple carbs such as sugar.


Talk to your physician if you think you may have slow metabolism issues. Most likely, your metabolism problems are due to an underlying medical condition(s), which can and should only be treated by a medical professional. Also, talk to a nutritionist so that you get an accurate estimate of how much calories you actually burn daily.

You may resort to some at-home metabolism-boosting measures, but it’s always better to start with advice from the doctor. Once you have a clear picture of your medical self, you’ll know what steps to take next.