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How To Reset Metabolism: Causes, Symptoms & How To Reboot 2022


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Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

how to reset metabolism

When it comes to health in general, nobody lives a perfect life; most people are just trying their best to get their veggies in, leaving the matter at that. We fall into patterns of living that lack fresh air, vigorous movement, and the joy of whole-food, plant-based nutrition.

If this sounds familiar, the good news is that the power to change is already in your hands. How long does it take to fix your metabolism? The answer may surprise you.

How Long Does It Take to Increase Metabolism While Losing Weight?

Attaining the optimum weight and metabolic rate is not a process that takes place in hours, days, or even weeks in many cases. A better metabolism is a long-term lifestyle that you must commit to; there is no magic shortcut that will result in better health forever. If you can’t stick to a plan, you may very well end up right back where you started. 

If you’re focused on staying at the top of your game for good, the incremental changes required for a healthy metabolism overall will be small enough for you to handle. You don’t need to totally turn your diet and exercise plan around over the next couple of days. Hours and hours in the gym might actually end up stunting your metabolism more than it stimulates it if you’re not eating enough to recover from every workout. 

What Is Metabolism and Metabolic Rate?

Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, describes the minimum amount of calories that your body needs in order to function, taking nothing else into consideration. This energy expenditure fuels the automatic inner workings keeping you alive as you read this, including the caloric intake required to maintain the physical structures of the body itself. 

Your resting metabolic rate, or RMR, is essentially the number of calories that your body burns daily without extra exercise or physical activity factored in. Every breath you take, every move you make, and every thought you think requires energy to happen. Energy expenditure certainly includes exercise and other physical exertion, but these small machinations that happen throughout the day are what RMR is based on.

After you’ve eaten something, your body breaks it down in a process known as catabolism. It then re-engineers the compounds it finds in your food, building each molecule and amino acid up into everything your cells need in a secondary process called anabolism. Combined, these two stages of digestion can be described as the metabolism of the food that you eat. In a general sense, metabolism is the mechanism responsible for the calories that your body burns, and a lot of things aside from your weight and your diet can speed it up or slow it down. 

Your habits can change how your body processes energy at the cellular level; many of us are familiar with the term “starvation mode,” a slowing of the metabolism when we begin to restrict our eating patterns too abruptly. Weight gain due to stress may be metabolic in origin..” Your metabolism could very well be the culprit behind it all.

The body is a sensitive instrument. Keeping it in balance (and maintaining your weight, too!) is a delicate dance. Once you get a feel for the rhythm, however, keeping the party rolling will become second nature to you. Whole, nutritionally dense foods at the appropriate times and in the appropriate portions, regular exercise, and a lifestyle that prioritizes your own mental and spiritual well-being are the answers that you’ve probably been looking for.

What Causes a Slow Metabolism?

Everybody marches to the beat of a different drum, so to speak. Some are naturally-gifted eaters, hungry throughout the day, consuming an ungodly amount of calories without retaining a single pound. Others may need to make choices that are more cautious, lest they suffer from the inevitable weight gain associated therein. 

Your own metabolism is likely not a mystery to you. A few key determining factors include:


The metabolism of men, naturally, will differ from that of women[1] in a general sense. Whether the difference is purely genetic or more, a result of activity and cultural differences remains a vehemently debated topic.


Few will be surprised to hear that your age will influence how effectively your body is able to lose weight autonomously. Again, our habits as we age may have something to do with this[2], but the facts certainly stand.

Body Size and Composition

Muscle mass percentage[3] is one major consideration; it takes more energy to maintain a muscle cell than it does to maintain a fat cell. Are you tall? If so, you’ve got much more of you to maintain; the more of you there is, the more cells you have to take care of. Each of those cells requires a minimum amount of energy to survive and continue working from moment to moment.


Even the place you call home may affect your metabolism adversely (or perhaps in your favor!). This study[4] found that one’s climate has a significant effect on their BMR. The conditions under which you developed as a fetus[5] may also weigh in, for better or for worse.

Dietary Habits

Metabolic damage refers to the confusion and dysfunction that our bodies feel when we fail to nourish them responsibly. Starvation mode, also known as adaptive thermogenesis, may haunt you[6] if you aren’t eating enough when trying to lose weight.


This part of the equation is often more influential than your calorie intake. If you work in a sedentary profession or take part in a hobby that has you moving your body daily, your metabolism will adjust itself accordingly. If you sleep poorly, you may also struggle to improve your RMR[7].

What You’re Doing

Are you sprinting at top speed? Have you just exercised vigorously but are now resting? Are you sleeping? Have you not slept at all? Any of these scenarios must be factored into your BMR evaluation. If you used to exercise a lot but are taking a few weeks off, your metabolism will reflect the change, even if only until you start again. Bodily functions like menstruation[8] can also impact your metabolic rate.

Symptoms of Slow Metabolism

Most of us know and dread the feeling of carrying a few too many pounds on ourselves. Metabolism goes much deeper than our appearances, however:

  • Your skin may not be renewing itself as efficiently as it could otherwise – dry, cracked cuticles and lips are both indicators of metabolic dysfunction.
  • Your body may have difficulty achieving and maintaining homeostasis, leaving you cold when others feel fine.
  • You might fall ill more often than you would otherwise, and your body may have trouble recovering from small aches, pains, bumps, and bruises.
  • Those dieting especially may notice that they tend to crave sweet and starchy food more often than those with a faster RMR.
  • You’ll feel fatigued and “low” more often than you would if your body were operating at an optimal resting metabolic rate, even if your blood sugar levels are normal and adequate.
  • And, of course, you’ll notice that you tend to gain weight more easily and to store more fat deposits in your body than many people.

If you check off any of the boxes here, it might be time for a change. These changes will all happen in due time.

How to Improve Metabolism the Healthy Way?

Many wonders if it’s possible to reset metabolism in the body. Reset may be the wrong word to use; instead, we encourage you to take the process one step at a time, improving your basal metabolic rate gradually and safely. 

How can you increase body metabolism? We’re glad that you asked:

  • Increasing your activity level is the fastest way to improve your metabolism. This is due in part to an increase in lean muscle mass[9], but your body will also expend plenty of calories rebuilding your muscles after you exert yourself. Strength training is one excellent way to target your muscles and build them up. Recruiting the help of a professional personal trainer might help you find the right regime for your goals.
  • Improving the composition of your diet[10] may also help you increase your metabolism over time (And will naturally lead to weight loss in the process). Adequate protein intake[11] has been shown to help trial participants improve metabolic rates.
  • Changes in both diet and exercise can help you burn more calories and lose weight. Losing weight ties back into body composition[12] – less fat and more muscle mass means that your RMR will be working overtime just to maintain as the body uses calories to burn as fuel, which will increase your BMR. 
  • Drinking plenty of water[13] is not only great for weight loss – drinking enough water has also been linked positively to more active thermogenesis in the body, as well, as encouraging your cells to burn more calories and energy than they would otherwise. 
  • Taking supplements may also help you regulate[14] your metabolism, but we advise that you avoid any claims that feel suspicious or less-than-credible.

Final Thoughts

Instead of fixating on the weight, you want to lose or the muscle that you would like to develop, focus on running one block further every time you go out. Eating less of the foods that you love doesn’t mean cutting them out entirely; instead, dial things back until you reach a point where you’re able to comfortably burn off everything that you want to eat. 

We encourage you to find a healthy balance between indulgence and the activity levels you’re willing to partake in regularly. Once this balance in diet and exercise is found, you’ll be set. The rest will become easy with time, patience, muscle development, increased energy levels, weight loss as you continue to exercise, and the cognitive reinforcement of all of these healthy habits. 

To maintain a healthy weight, calories will always be important. Once you’ve reached the best weight for you, though, live your life – eat good food, shake your body down daily, and watch the positive results and benefits of a healthy metabolism unfold before you.

+ 14 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Zore, T., Palafox, M. and Reue, K. (2018). Sex differences in obesity, lipid metabolism, and inflammation—A role for the sex chromosomes? Molecular Metabolism, [online] 15, pp.35–44. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221287781830259X
  2. ‌Rezuş, E., Burlui, A., Cardoneanu, A., Rezuş, C., Codreanu, C., Pârvu, M., Rusu Zota, G. and Tamba, B.I. (2020). Inactivity and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism: A Vicious Cycle in Old Age. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 21(2), p.592. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/2/592
  3. ‌Europe PMC (2016). Europe PMC. [online] Europepmc.org. Available at: https://europepmc.org/article/med/29860819
  4. ‌Europe PMC (2016). Europe PMC. [online] Europepmc.org. Available at: https://europepmc.org/article/MED/18461599
  5. ‌Dearden, L., Bouret, S.G. and Ozanne, S.E. (2018). Sex and gender differences in developmental programming of metabolism. Molecular Metabolism, [online] 15, pp.8–19. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212877818303090
  6. ‌Marra, M., Polito, A., De Filippo, E., Cuzzolaro, M., Ciarapica, D., Contaldo, F. and Scalfi, L. (2002). Are the general equations to predict BMR applicable to patients with anorexia nervosa? Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, [online] 7(1), pp.53–59. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF03354430
  7. ‌Spaeth, A.M., Dinges, D.F. and Goel, N. (2015). Resting metabolic rate varies by race and by sleep duration. Obesity, [online] 23(12), pp.2349–2356. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26538305/
  8. ‌Benton, M.J., Hutchins, A.M. and Dawes, J.J. (2020). Effect of menstrual cycle on resting metabolism: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE, [online] 15(7), p.e0236025. Available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236025
  9. ‌Speakman, J.R. and Selman, C. (2003). Physical activity and resting metabolic rate. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, [online] 62(3), pp.621–634. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/physical-activity-and-resting-metabolic-rate/5A95292BD09F2716187EA51179CC7381
  10. ‌Gutowski, J.P., Wojciechowski, M.S. and Jefimow, M. (2011). Diet affects resting, but not basal metabolic rate of normothermic Siberian hamsters acclimated to winter. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, [online] 160(4), pp.516–523. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1095643311002601
  11. ‌Campbell, W.W., Trappe, T.A., Wolfe, R.R. and Evans, W.J. (2001). The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein May Not Be Adequate for Older People to Maintain Skeletal Muscle. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, [online] 56(6), pp.M373–M380. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/56/6/M373/526427?login=true
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Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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