What Does It Mean To Have A Slow Or Fast Metabolism

By Dr. Basheerah

When people think of metabolism, they may just think that it refers to how fast or slow your body can burn fat, but there’s actually more to this bodily process. Metabolism is a chemical process that is responsible for keeping up with your body’s basic functions such as digestion, cell regeneration, and most importantly, breathing.

All of these processes and basic bodily functions require a specific amount of energy, which you get from the calories in your food.

Each individual requires a certain amount of calories per day to ensure that their basic body functions run smoothly. Some factors that influence a person’s metabolism, or their basal metabolic rate (BMR), include sex, height, weight, diet, body composition, as well as genetics.

It’s helpful to know what your BMR is, as it can help to assist you in achieving any weight goals you may have for yourself. Understanding what your BMR is can also help you determine just how many calories your body requires to maintain your current weight.

Boost your metabolism

Despite this information on the technicality of metabolism, there still begs a question: What does it mean to have a fast or slow metabolism?

The simple answer is that the difference between slow and fast metabolism is based on how many calories your body needs or can burn to support your body’s basic functions. To give you more detail, here is a better breakdown of what it means to have a slow or fast metabolism.

What it Means to Have a Fast Metabolism

A fast metabolism can be something that is genetic or can be promoted over time by eating lean protein to build muscle.

If you have a fast metabolism, you may find that you shed weight easily, and find it hard to put on fat and muscle. You may also experience an elevated heart rate, hot flashes, consistent hunger, fatigue, and in some cases, anemia.

A faster metabolism may be promoted over time by consistently building lean muscle mass and being cognizant of one’s caloric intake.

When you have a high metabolism or a high BMR, this means that your body in its resting state is burning significantly more calories than somebody who has a lower metabolic rate. So if you find yourself having a faster metabolism, your body needs more calories than most to carry out its basic functions.

If you find that your metabolism is naturally faster than most, it can be easy to overindulge in food. Just remember that while it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough calories, it’s also important to make sure you’re eating only what your body needs. Too many calories can lead to an energy imbalance, which can throw your metabolic rate off.

What it means to have a slow metabolism

Like having a fast metabolism, having a slow metabolism depends on many factors in an individual such as weight history, age, genetics, and diet.

Your body’s hormone production tends to play one of the biggest roles in whether you have a slow or fast metabolism.

A person’s cortisol levels contribute to the slowing of one’s metabolism. People who have higher cortisol levels tend to binge eat more. This is what can be known as stress eating as high levels of cortisol are known to dramatically increase one’s appetite. High cortisol levels can lead you to crave sweet, salty, and fatty foods, which can give way to potential weight gain.

Making homemade apple cider vinegar, preparation process. Woman pouring water in jar

Thyroid hormones are essential in managing your body’s activity such as heart rate and the speed at which you burn your calories. People who have imbalances in their thyroid hormones such as hyperthyroidism can cause their bodies to produce either too much or too little of these hormones.

When your thyroid hormones are significantly imbalanced, you may feel restless or exhausted, depending on how much your body is producing. It’s very common to see those with thyroid imbalances struggling with weight gain that is hard to shed.

As we age, our estrogen and testosterone levels naturally decrease, especially when women experience menopause. Lower hormonal levels can lead to muscle loss, which can then result in high levels of fat deposits throughout the body. Some women choose to take estrogen supplements to counteract this process, but a healthy lifestyle is integral to keeping a healthy body as you age.

Tips on how to Heal your Metabolism

Having a slow or fast metabolism doesn’t have to be a set life sentence. If you desire to change the rate at which your body burns calories, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to heal your BMR and reach whatever fitness goal you have.

1. Don’t skip breakfast

If there’s any piece of advice you take away from today, let it be this. It is proven that skipping breakfast can have a detrimental effect on your metabolic rate. What you eat first thing in the morning can set the tone for your energy levels throughout the day.

Intermittent fasting diet concept with 8-hour clock timer for eating nutritional or keto low carb, high protien food meal healthy dish and 16-hour skipping meal for weight loss

If you choose to have a fulfilling healthy meal, then that puts you on track to a better metabolic rate. However, if you skip breakfast entirely, your body will have very little energy to run on. This can lead to fatigue and can lead to your body holding on to your fat reserves as a last-ditch effort to get nutrients.

2. No Crash Diets

Cutting calories or going on a crash diet can put your metabolism into a state of shock, which can halt any efforts at burning fat. This is because when you significantly cut your calories, your body goes into survival mode, and tries to hold on to any bit of energy it can get in the form of fat deposits.

crash diet

Instead of skipping meals and cutting calories, try to get more protein and nutrient-rich foods in your diet such as lean meats, eggs, fatty fish, avocados, greek yogurt, and legumes.

3. Get enough sleep

Not getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night can have negative consequences on the stress hormones in your body, which can ultimately impact your metabolism. Getting enough sleep lowers your stress hormones such as cortisol, which can curb cravings for salty, sweet, and fatty foods.

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Keep in mind, metabolism is an intricate process that is essential for our bodies’ fundamental functions. Having a slow or fast metabolism doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever. By making changes to your lifestyle, you can enhance your metabolic rate.

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