Blog Weight Loss Signs Of Slow Metabolism: What To Look For & How To Fix This Issue

Signs Of Slow Metabolism: What To Look For & How To Fix This Issue

When it comes to losing and gaining weight, metabolism plays quite a huge role. Those with a naturally fast metabolism are able to maintain a healthy weight without necessarily working out or watching what they eat. A really fast metabolism could also be the reason why some people are underweight.


On the other hand, people with a slow metabolism put on weight quite easily and have a harder time getting rid of it, despite exercising or eating healthy. If you have been working out and watching what you eat but still cannot seem to lose weight, then your metabolism might be to blame.

Weight gain, however, is not the only sign of a slow metabolism. If your body doesn’t feel right and you cannot seem to figure out what’s wrong, the answer could be traced back to your metabolism.

Here are some signs of slow metabolism that could help you decipher what could possibly be wrong with your body.

What Is Metabolism?

Before getting into some of the slow metabolism symptoms, what exactly is a metabolism?

According to Britannica, this is a combination of several chemical reactions that take place within each cell of a living organism. These reactions provide the energy that is essential for vital processes and the synthesis of new organic material (12). 

Human beings are not the only ones that have a metabolism. Every living thing on earth has its own unique metabolism that helps it not only survive but also move, grow and reproduce (14).

What we think of as metabolism in relation to weight management can be described as the process by which our bodies convert food (and drinks) into energy.  

This energy is then used to fuel you and your body’s basic functions. The energy used by the body for basic functions is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This rate supports things such as breathing, blood circulation, digestion, body temperature regulation, cell growth and repair, etc. .

All humans have a  different BMR, as it is influenced by multiple factors such as age, sex, genetic factors, and more (14). 

Aside from BMR, your calorie expenditure is also influenced by your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is simply your BMR plus simple low-effort activities like eating, drinking, fidgeting, going to the bathroom, etc.

signs of slow metabolism

What Causes A Slow Metabolism

Many have rushed to look for ways to fix a slow metabolism without first finding out the root cause of this problem. Here are some of the most common slow metabolism causes:

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Your Genetics

Your individual genetic makeup affects how efficiently your body turns consumed calories into energy.

Hormonal Issues

This is related to your thyroid gland. The thyroid has multiple jobs in the body but the main one is to control your metabolic rate.

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid becomes underactive releasing less thyroid hormones, slowing down the rate at which you burn energy.. This can lead to weight gain, bradycardia – a slow heart rate -, cold intolerance, constipation, and fatigue (15).

Lack Of Sleep

If you suffer from insomnia or any other kind of problems, they could very likely be the root cause of your slowing metabolism. This idea has been supported by several studies through the years.

A review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology in 2010 described how lack of sleep and sleep disorders cause metabolic dysregulation (17).

Another study published in the Journal of Lipid of research found that four nights of sleep restriction/deprivation led to less satiety after a high calorie meal,, but also temporarily affected how the body metabolizes fats (9).

Sleep deprivation and weight gain have long been shown to have a direct link with each other. Consistently getting less than the recommended hours of sleep will very likely slow your metabolism. Even catching up on lost sleep may not be very effective in getting your metabolic rate to normal after being negatively affected (18).

Very Low-Calorie Diets

Eating at a calorie deficit is one of the most surefire ways to ensure that you lose weight. However, if you go too far and cut too many calories from your diet you can end up changing your metabolic system.

Studies over the years have shown that eating too little in the name of weight loss can not only reduce how many calories your body burns a day, but it also leads to weight gain, especially once you stop the diet (13, 1, 16).

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Selected Medication

Sometimes medicines that are necessary for medical conditions can be the cause of unexplained weight gain and other signs of slow metabolism.

Medicines for diabetes, epilepsy, blood pressure and heart regulation medication, antidepressants, antipsychotics and steroid hormones are among those known to affect metabolism and cause weight gain (6, 22). Sometimes there is an alternative, but not always, and oftentimes the risk of weight gain is less important than treating the medical condition. That is a discussion to have with your healthcare provider. 

Increased stress levels (19, 11).

A High-fat Diet

High fat diets like the ketogenic diet are popular among dieters as they promise incredible weight loss results. While there is no denying that such eating plans have resulted in weight loss for some people, we suggest thinking twice (and maybe consulting a doctor) before starting one.

Several studies over the years have shown that high fat diets may not be good for your metabolic system. There is some evidence that they could lead to insulin resistance, and they may increase the risk of heart disease, especially when they are high in saturated fats (7, 8).


Mild dehydration may affect how well your body burns fat for energy, and drinking water may stimulate your metabolism (23).

What Are The Signs Of Slow Metabolism? Things To Look Out For

Now that you know what this process is and the factors that affect it, what are some warning signs of slow metabolism?

Here’s how to know if you have a slow metabolism.

Unexplained weight gain

This is probably one of the most common and obvious signs of slow metabolism female and males notice. As previously mentioned, your metabolism determines how efficiently your body burns calories. If it slows down, you burn calories slower and anything not burned is stored in the body as fat.

A greater amount of fat stores equals a higher body fat percentage and increased body weight. If you haven’t changed your diet and are keeping up with the same level of physical activity as before, but the number on the scale keeps going up, your metabolism might be the culprit.

Difficulties in losing weight

This is specifically for those who are putting in the work – exercising and eating right – but cannot seem to see any positive changes in the mirror or on the scale. A slow metabolism means that the body does everything it can to conserve calories instead of burning them off.

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Unexplained fatigue

A slower metabolism means that the body isn’t burning calories fast enough to give you the energy you need. Less energy levels may mean that you feel tired all the time. .

Dry Cracked Skin

If your slow metabolism is caused by thyroid issues, your skin may be among the first parts to show symptoms, especially if the issue in question is hypothyroidism (5). One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is dry skin, but dry skin does not always mean you have hypothyroidism. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you have concerns. 

Hair Loss and Brittle Nails

Thinning hair and brittle nails are more possible signs of hypothyroidism, among others. However, they can also be explained by many different things, so talk to your healthcare provider if you notice these symptoms and aren’t feeling quite right. 


This is more common in persons who have a slow metabolism due to an underactive thyroid. Studies over the years have drawn a correlation between migraines and hypothyroidism, although the reason for the correlation is not clear(2, 10, 21).

Read more: Metabolism Boost Smoothies to Instantly Foster Your Metabolism to Beast Mode.

Depression, Low Sex Drive & Being Cold

Like brittle nails, hair loss, and dry skin, these are all signs of a thyroid that’s not releasing enough thyroid hormone which leads to a slow metabolism. 


A slow metabolic system slows down every process in the body, including the digestion and bowel transit time. Not only does food take longer to be processed, but waste takes longer to move through the intestines.

signs of slow metabolism female

How To Fix A Slow Metabolism

Fortunately, a slow metabolism is not a lifelong curse. With a few lifestyle and dietary changes you may be able to reset your metabolism. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Eat enough calories – Even when trying to lose weight, you need to consume enough calories. Find a reputable calorie calculator to determine the right and healthy calorie deficit for you
  2. Eat more protein – Unlike when digesting fats or carbs, the body uses more energy to break down and process protein. This gives you a metabolic boost albeit for a short time.
  3. Build more muscle – Having more muscle than fat in the body ensures that the body is burning and using up more calories in a day. According to WebMD, every pound of muscle in your body uses up 6 calories a day at rest, while each pound of fat only uses up 2 calories.
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Researchers from the University of New Mexico also state that muscle tissue in your body contributes approximately 20 percent of your total daily calories burned versus 5 percent by fat tissue (3).

  1. Increase your daily physical activity – Yes, our bodies naturally burn calories even when we’re not doing anything. However, sometimes this is not enough. Increasing how much physical activity you are doing makes the body use more energy thus boosting your metabolic rate.
  2. Eat more metabolism boosting foods – Research has suggested that spicy foods may have the ability to increase your metabolism for a short amount of time (20).
  3. Go for a thyroid check up – If you are doing all the above and are still seeing signs of slow metabolism, speak to your doctor and seek help for hypothyroidism.

Other simple ways to improve your metabolism include, staying hydrated, sleeping more, and reducing stress levels.


When Does Metabolism Slow Down?

A long held common belief among many is that your metabolism begins to slow down once you reach the age of 30. This, however, was recently debunked by a study published in 2021 (4).

In the study, researchers looked at the metabolic rate of about 6,421 participants from 29 countries across the world all aged between 8 days and 95 years. The researchers looked at both the total energy expenditure (TEE) and the basal metabolic rate (RMR) of the participants to come up with their conclusions.

Their findings of metabolic rate, adjusted for differences in body composition, were as follows

  • Babies (from 1 month to 1 year old) – Their energy expenditure at birth is similar to adults but increases rapidly in the first year.. Babies between the ages of 9 and 15 months had a metabolic rate that was 50 percent higher than that of adults.
  • Children and young adults (from 1 year to 20 years old) – The metabolic rate seen in childhood steadily declined regardless of the fact that people in these ages increased in size, ie more muscle and had more fat free mass. At about 20.5 years, both the TEE and RMR plateaued and matched that of adults.
  • Adults (from 20 to 60 years old) – Both TEE and RMR remained stable.
  • Older adults (60 years and above) – Researchers found that TEE and BMR began to decline after 60 years old. After some calculations and adjustments, they found that both TEE and RMR decline on average by 0.7 percent a year.
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With these findings, we can see that the metabolism of adults actually starts to decline at 60 years of age and not 30 as most people think.

signs of slow metabolism male

Does Slow Metabolism Make You Tired?

Yes, it can. Unexplained fatigue is one of the most common slow metabolism symptoms.

Remember, when your metabolism slows down it does not convert as many calories into energy as before. This can feel like having lower energy levels throughout the day and not being able to easily accomplish the same tasks as before without tiring.

What Are Some Signs Of Metabolism Male?

Signs of a slow metabolism do not differ per gender. All the above slow metabolism symptoms can manifest in both men and women.

Read more: Safe Healthy Tips On How To Slow Down Your Metabolism & Gain Weight.

The Bottom Line

Metabolism is a process that human beings need, not only to maintain a healthy weight but also survive. While the body can naturally take care of the metabolic rate, sometimes, lifestyle, dietary, or medical factors can negatively affect it.

Signs of slow metabolism are many and varied. However, the most common ones are unexplained weight gain, extreme fatigue, and failure to lose weight despite exercising and watching your diet.

Thyroid problems, especially hypothyroidism is a major reason why some people may experience a slower than normal metabolic rate. If you start manifesting any of the above mentioned symptoms, make sure to look at your diet and lifestyle as they might hold the answer to fixing this issue.

Also, make sure to speak to your doctor about possible thyroid issues or any medications that you may be on that could be causing this problem.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Adaptive thermogenesis with weight loss in humans (2013,
  2. Association of Low Thyroid Hormone with Migraine Headache (2021,
  3. Controversies in Metabolism (n.d.,
  4. Daily energy expenditure through the human life course (2021,
  5. Do Traditional Symptoms of Hypothyroidism Correlate with Biochemical Disease? (1997,
  6. Drugs That Affect Body Weight, Body Fat Distribution, and Metabolism (2019,
  7. Early skeletal muscle adaptations to short-term high-fat diet in humans before changes in insulin sensitivity (2015,
  8. Effect of high-intensity exercise and high-fat diet on lipid metabolism in the liver of rats (2015,
  9. Four nights of sleep restriction suppress the postprandial lipemic response and decrease satiety (2019,
  10. Headache Disorders May Be a Risk Factor for the Development of New Onset Hypothyroidism (2017,
  11. Impact of stress on metabolism and energy balance (2016,
  12. Metabolism (2023,
  13. Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition (2016,
  14. Physiology, Metabolism (2022,
  15. Physiology, Thyroid Hormone (2023,
  16. Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight (2017,
  17. Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview (2010,
  18. Sleep deprivation may lead to slower metabolism, weight gain (2019,
  19. Stress and metabolism (2005,
  20. The Claim: Spicy Foods Increase Metabolism (2006,
  21. The Role of Metabolism in Migraine Pathophysiology and Susceptibility (2021,
  22. When Your Weight Gain Is Caused by Medicine (n.d.,
  23. Yes, drinking more water may help you lose weight (2020,
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