An abnormally slow metabolism is a medical possibility, but it is very rare. Metabolism isn't a "thing" but rather a process by which the body converts the food and drink that a person consumes into energy that the body can use. Even when sleeping, the body uses energy for basic functions such as breathing, which means that metabolism never stops.
There are several things that people do every day that can slow down metabolism, or to put it more accurately, prevent their metabolism from performing at its peak. In fact, the majority of problems that people experience when it comes to their weight are a result of things that they are doing or not doing, and not because they have an abnormally slow metabolism. Below is a list of 10 things that slow down metabolism.
1. Avoiding Caffeine
Caffeine is often used in diet pills and supplements and the reason why is simple. Caffeine is a stimulant that raises the body's metabolic rate. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, caffeine consumption can increase the body's metabolic rate by 4 to 5 percent, provided that it is used properly. However, it's important not to overdo the caffeine because that can have some undesired consequences. (To learn about the negative effects of too much caffeine, read 10 Possible Side Effects Of Too Much Caffeine.)
2. Skimping on Dairy
According to an article in Prevention Magazine, calcium deficiency has been linked to a slower metabolism. Research has also shown that consuming low-fat or fat-free varieties of dairy products reduce the amount of fat absorbed from other foods. So grab a yogurt for breakfast or pack some cheese cubes in the lunch for a healthy calcium boost.
3. Skipping Meals
Skipping meals causes the metabolism to jam on the brakes. This is a throw-back to the days when people had to hunt and gather food. While cutting calories is necessary for weight-loss in those who are trying to slim down, often people take this to extremes. The body requires a certain amount of calories per day just to support basic functions so if caloric intake becomes too low the body has to find other sources of fuel and that is usually found in the form muscle tissue. Eating three meals and two snacks per day will keep the body from digesting muscle to keep functioning.
4. Too Much Alcohol
Aside from packing on extra weight by way of excess empty calories, alcohol also slows down metabolism. According to an article by Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale on BodyBuilding.com, alcohol slows the metabolism down by a whopping 73 percent, even several hours after the drinks are finished. While one drink does have some health benefits as seen in other studies, more than that should be avoided.
5. Refined Carbs
Refined carbs are notoriously low in fiber as well as causing the blood sugar to spike. Refined carbs are things like white sugar, white flour or pasta. Instead opt for fiber rich whole wheat varieties of breads and pastas. Fiber can also be found in fruits and vegetables. According Prevention Magazine, increasing the amount of fiber in the diet can increase the metabolic rate by up to 30 percent.
6. Short On Vitamin D
Known as the "sunshine" vitamin, Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium. But it is also essential for the development of healthy muscle tissue, which really revs up metabolism. However, it's estimated that just four percent of the population gets enough vitamin D in their diets, according to Prevention Magazine. Spending a few minutes in the sun without sunscreen can provide a healthy dose of D, as can a serving of tuna, a glass of milk or fortified cereal. Just remember not to spend too much time exposed to the sun without protection to avoid sunburn.
7. Low Muscle Mass
It is a scientific fact that muscle uses more energy than fat, therefore those that have greater muscle mass also have a faster metabolic rate. However, even if a person loses weight in an effort to decrease fat, they also lose muscle mass. So increasing muscle mass with weight training will increase the metabolic rate. As an added bonus, weight training also increases bone density.
8. Get More Iron
Iron is a vital nutrient that the body needs to bring oxygen to the muscles in order for them to burn fat. However many people lack iron. Women in particular are notoriously low in iron due to the loss of blood during their monthly period. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, but it will also slow down metabolism. However iron can readily be found in meats and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach.
9. Lacking Protein
In addition to iron, protein is also essential for muscle health. According to the article in Prevention Magazine, protein can increase metabolism by up to 35 percent. Every meal should contain some type of protein, but this can come in a variety of forms such as lean meat, nuts or tofu.
10. Type 2 Diabetes
Though the exact reasons are unknown, research has shown that those with type 2 diabetes have slower metabolic rates than those who don't. According to an article from Diabetic Living Magazine, people with type 2 diabetes don't have the same post meal metabolic spike as those who don't. This is just one of the ways that diabetes can affect metabolism.
While metabolism is a natural process of the body, like every other aspect of good health, the better we humans take care of our bodies, the better and more efficiently the body's systems will work.