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Slow metabolism, is there anything I can do to improve it? 

4 December 2023

Have you noticed that around menopause, it’s easier to gain weight and harder to lose it? This phenomenon is likely caused by a slow metabolism. However, you shouldn’t consider it your enemy. On the contrary, in this article, you will understand the importance of taking care of it to maximize its potential. 

Metabolism and its importance 

It refers to a series of chemical reactions that occur in the body, through which each cell produces energy for the proper functioning of the organism. This energy is obtained from the food and beverages you consume, as well as the oxygen you inhale (1)

Thanks to your metabolism, you have energy to perform basic functions such as (2)

  • Breathing. 
  • Blood circulation. 
  • Digestion. 
  • Growth and repair of damaged tissues. 
  • Hormone level control. 
  • Regulation of body temperature. 

Factors involved in a slow metabolism 

There are several factors that can affect it, including (2,3)

  • Diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism
  • Muscle mass. People with low muscle mass and a high level of fat have a slow metabolism
  • Age. As we age, we lose muscle and bone mass, leading to a slowing of metabolism. 
  • Gender. Men have a faster metabolism than women due to their greater muscle mass, longer bones, and less body fat. 
  • Genetics. What you inherit from your parents plays a significant role in your body’s ability to develop muscle mass. 
  • Restrictive diets. Consuming very few calories can slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain. 
  • Low-protein diets. Protein is the main component of muscle; therefore, not consuming it can cause muscle loss. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity decreases metabolism, leading to weight gain, fat accumulation, and muscle loss. 
  • Lack of sleep. Inadequate rest also slows down metabolism. Between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep are recommended each night. 
  • Excessive sugar consumption. Excess sugar can worsen your health and increase the risk of diabetes or obesity. These conditions can affect metabolism. 
  • Hormonal imbalances. In conditions like diabetes, obesity, menopause, and thyroid diseases, hormones may be imbalanced, slowing down metabolism. 
  • Calcium and vitamin D deficiency. This causes a decrease in bone density and can affect muscle mass. 

How menopause causes a slow metabolism 

As the years pass, we lose muscle and our metabolism slows down. This change is commonly noticed around menopause, often accompanied by weight gain. For instance, women with early menopause also experience a slow metabolism. This is due to hormonal changes in this stage, which can affect its regulation and fat storage; consequently, the more fat we have, the slower it becomes (4)

Consequences of a slow metabolism 

It causes your body to burn fewer calories and store excess ones as fat. Certainly, this is the main reason why some people have difficulty losing weight (5). In turn, this can be a triggering factor for issues such as overweight, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a range of secondary diseases related to weight gain and improper accumulation of body fat (2)

Slow-metabolism

Recommendations to speed up your metabolism during menopause 

In this stage, there’s more than one reason to have a slow metabolism, so it’s important to take precautions before noticing excessive weight gain. In addition, some recommendations include (2,4,5)

  • Don’t skip meals. Firstly, your body adapts quickly and will soon start using fewer calories for basic functions, resulting in fat accumulation. 
  • Strengthen your metabolism with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and quality carbohydrates. 
  • Further, engage in strength training or resistance exercises to increase muscle mass. 
  • Drink green tea, which contains epigallocatechin gallate, a component that has been shown to increase calorie and fat burning after consumption. Subsequently, having around 3 cups a day could help burn an extra 100 calories. 

To sum up, now you understand that a slow metabolism is not your enemy but an ally you should train to maximize. Remember, you have the power in your hands. Changing your habits, improving your diet, and dedicating time to care for your body have a positive effect on most menopausal symptoms. Enjoy this stage and discover a new you, with many reasons to celebrate this new chapter in your life.

Referencias Bibliográficas 

  1. Sánchez A, Raja A. Physiology, Metabolism [Internet]. Nih.gov. StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546690/  
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Metabolism: What It Is, How It Works and Disorders [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Nov 5]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21893-metabolism  
  1. Franziska Spritzler. 6 Mistakes That Slow Down Your Metabolism [Internet]. Healthline Media; 2019 [cited 2023 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7  
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Women’s Health Team. Menopause Weight Gain Is Normal — Here’s How To Combat It [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Nov 5]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-can-i-do-to-avoid-weight-gain-at-menopause/  
  1. Harvard Health. The truth about metabolism. [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Nov 5]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-metabolism#:~:text=A%20slow%20metabolism%20burns%20fewer,and%20not%20gain%20extra%20pounds  

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