Signs of a slow metabolism

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on January 12, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Wondering if you could have a “slow metabolism” that could make it more challenging to hit your weight goals? If so, keep reading to learn more about the possible signs of a slow metabolism, plus answers to other key questions many people have about metabolism.


Check your levels of three key hormones that affect metabolism and weight (cortisol, testosterone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH) with the easy-to-use, at-home Metabolism Test. Note that this test does not give you a measurement of your metabolic rate.


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What are the signs of a slow metabolism?

Wondering how to know if you have a slow metabolism? Fully determining whether you have a slow metabolism or if your metabolism has “slowed” over time is best done in collaboration with a healthcare professional because of how complex and challenging it can be to measure metabolic processes. That being said, a slow metabolism may be accompanied by certain warning signs.

Possible signs of a slow metabolism may include:

  • Unexpected weight changes (weight gain or weight loss)
  • Getting tired easily or feeling sluggish
  • Hair loss

It’s important to keep in mind that weight gain, especially rapid, unexplainable weight gain, can be a result of a number of other factors including:

  • Genetics and family history
  • Consuming too many calories
  • Doing too little physical activity
  • Taking certain medications
  • Routinely not getting enough sleep

Experiencing changes in your weight or energy levels and aren’t sure why? The Everlywell at-home Metabolism Test lets you check 3 key hormones commonly associated with metabolism and weight to help narrow down possible causes and determine whether a hormone imbalance may be affecting your metabolism. Note that this test does not give you a measurement of your metabolic rate.


Slow metabolism and weight gain: what’s the connection?

Our bodies naturally store excess energy in fat cells. People with higher metabolism rates burn more calories and at a faster rate than someone with a slower metabolic rate. However, research suggests that anyone, at any given body size, can have high, normal, or low metabolic rates—which shows that weight does not necessarily correlate with metabolism rate.

In most cases, excess weight or rapid weight gain has less to do with a “slow” metabolism, but is instead a reflection of the increase in the number of calories you eat (energy intake) compared to the calories your body expends (energy output).

What are the signs of a high metabolism?

Your metabolism is largely influenced by genetics. However, other factors may contribute to how well and how fast your metabolism functions, including:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Muscle mass
  • Body size and composition
  • Physical activity
  • Hormone disorders (for example, Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism)

Having a high or fast metabolism is associated with burning more calories in a rested state compared to someone with a slower metabolism. Naturally, if you burn more calories than you take in, you may lose weight.

Signs of a fast metabolism may include:

  • Unexpected weight changes (weight gain or weight loss)
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Feeling hot and sweaty often
  • Feeling hungry often throughout the day
  • Frequent bowel movements

Learn more about the signs of a fast metabolism.

At what age does your metabolism slow?

Your metabolism naturally slows down as you age, though there is no specific age at which metabolism is known to start slowing down.

Learn more about the hormones in your body that can affect your metabolism

You can learn your levels of 3 key hormones (cortisol, testosterone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH) that affect metabolism and weight with the Everlywell at-home Metabolism Test. This at-home lab test lets you easily collect your sample from the comfort of your home, send it to a CLIA-certified lab for testing using the prepaid mailer provided in the kit, and get digital results in just a few days. The test can help indicate if a hormone imbalance may be interfering with your weight gain or weight loss goals. Note that this test does not give you a measurement of your metabolic rate.


What is fast metabolism?

Wondering how to speed up metabolism? Here’s what to know


References

1. Is a slow metabolism the reason I'm overweight? Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed January 12, 2020.

2. Shimokata H, Kuzuya F. Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition. Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 1993 Jul;30(7):572-6. Japanese. PMID: 8361073.

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