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6 Signs Of A Slow Metabolism: What To Know?

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Medically reviewed by Kimberly Langdon, MD

Slow Metabolism

It can be frustrating to climb the scale each time and find that the numbers are still the same despite your best dieting and exercise efforts. Your slow metabolism might be responsible for your slow fitness gains. First, you need to be able to spot the signs of a slow metabolism before trying to speed things up. Let us dive into how you can tell if you have a slower metabolism. You will also learn tips on how to balance metabolism.

6 Signs of a Slow Metabolism: What to Know?

Figuring out if you have got a slow metabolism is the first step in fixing your metabolism. Signs of a slow metabolism include weight gain, fatigue, trouble losing weight, depression, frequent headaches, dry skin, brittle nails, and hair loss.

Weight Gain

If you find that despite eating clean,  watching your calorie intake, and working out, the numbers on the scale keep climbing, something might be wrong with your metabolism. Unexplained weight gain[1] could be due to hypothyroidism. 

Your thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones, which help regulate bodily functions. Thyroid hormones are important for maintaining metabolic balance. In hypothyroidism[2], hormone production by your thyroid gland is depressed. Hypothyroidism can slow down your body’s metabolic rate causing you to gain weight. Vitamin and mineral[3] deficiency can also slow your metabolism and cause weight gain.

However, before you can finger your slow metabolism for your weight gain, it is important to be sure that you are doing things right. You could also be gaining weight because you are eating more than you think. Take note of the number of calories you take each day, including snacks, and put in the work at the gym. If the pounds keep coming on, you should share this with your doctor.

Difficulty Losing Weight 

Are you killing it at the gym week after week, yet the pounds will not come off? Your metabolism may have a hand. If you added healthy eating to your routine too with no change in your body fat, you need to try something new. A slow metabolism can make it incredibly difficult to burn fat and lose weight. It can feel almost like all your efforts are in vain. 

Your weight loss troubles may be due to your slow metabolism. Finding a way to restore your metabolism balance ensures your body burns calories so that you can lose weight faster. 

You are Always Tired 

Tiredness is normal, especially after a busy day. However, if you cannot seem to find the energy for basic activities, your metabolism may be at fault. A slow metabolism will have you feeling like you are being dragged through the day. 

However, slow metabolism is not the only thing that can make you feel tired all the time. The wrong diet can have you fatigued all the time, especially if you are not getting the right vitamins and minerals[4]. Your diet should contain sufficient calories to help fuel your day’s activities. You should also be getting micronutrients from your diet too even if you are trying to lose weight. These vitamins and minerals do not provide energy directly but some micronutrients are essential for unlocking the energy stored in your foods. Ensure that your diet contains different food classes so that it satisfies your body’s nutritional needs. 

Dry Skin, Brittle Nails, and Hair Loss 

Issues with your thyroid gland can affect your skin, nails, and hair. Your skin may lose its shine and appear dry or cracked. Your nails and hair may also become brittle due to problems with your thyroid hormones.  

Your diet can also affect how your skin, hair, and nails look. Protein in your diet will help your body build collagen and keratin that make up your skin, nails, and hair. Micronutrients are also important for healthy skin, hair, and nails.

Constant Headaches 

Constant headaches[5] may be related to hypothyroidism. Your thyroid gland controls your body’s metabolic rate. So, when your thyroid hormones are out of balance, your metabolism is thrown off balance too. 

If you are getting frequent headaches and sudden pain sensations, you need to see your doctor to determine if your metabolism is responsible.


Your gut plays a huge role in your emotions and mood. Studies show[6] that your gut health can affect your mood and is linked to depression. Lower thyroid hormone levels may also be related[7] to depression. 

Hence, if you are having problems with your mood, improving your thyroid hormones may help improve your mood. 

What Affects Your Metabolism? 

Metabolism[8] is all the chemical reactions happening in your body at all times. These processes may include building up large molecules or breaking down larger molecules into smaller units. Metabolic processes in your body include respiration, digestion, cell repair, and so on. Even when you are not active, such as while sleeping, these metabolic activities progress without your knowledge. These activities usually require an energy source. The energy comes from the calories you consume and the breakdown of fat stores. 

A slow metabolism would mean that you are using less energy. Lots of factors affect your body’s metabolic rate[9] such as your sex, age, body size, menstrual cycle, body temperature, and genes. Your metabolism also slows down with some diets.

Ways to Balance Metabolism 

If you think your slow metabolism might be responsible for poor fitness results, there are a few things that can help you get a fast metabolism.  

Physical Activity 

Exercising speeds up your metabolic rates so that you use up energy from your fat stores. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends getting up to 150 – 300 minutes[10] of moderate to high-intensity exercise weekly. If you are not getting that much exercise, consider doing so. Physical activity helps you burn calories and keep your heart in shape too.  

Building muscle mass is also great for your metabolism, so, add strength training and resistance training to your routine.  A study[11] found that resistance training increased the resting metabolic rate in participants by about 5%.

Proper Diet 

Is your body getting the nutrition it needs? Crash diets[12] could be robbing your body of proper nutrition and slowing your metabolism. Instead of jumping on the next fad diet, examine your current diet. Is it giving your body the right macro and micronutrients? If it is not, it is time to start eating healthy foods that will not hurt your weight loss efforts. 

Drink Water 

Drinking enough water throughout the day can contribute to increasing your metabolic rate. A study[13] found that drinking up to 500ml of water increased the metabolic rate in the subjects by up to 30%.

Water drinking is a crucial factor in promoting weight loss. So, if you have not been drinking up to  2.2 to 3 liters[14] of water daily, now is the time to make your water bottle your best friend. 


Dietary supplements may help boost your metabolism. They may provide the extra vitamins and minerals your body needs for proper metabolic processes. The right supplements may also help relieve digestive disorders that may be slowing down your body’s metabolism. 

However, before choosing the right supplements for your digestive disorders, conduct your research so that you don’t fall for a scam. Do not forget to speak with your healthcare provider before you start using supplements. 

Consult Your Doctor 

If your slow metabolism is due to problems with your thyroid gland, your doctor can help. Your doctor would need to diagnose your condition first. Diagnosis may involve multiple tests to assess how your thyroid gland and hormones are functioning. Resolving your thyroid hormone issues can help get your metabolism back on track. 


A slow metabolism can make your weight loss efforts seem like a waste of time. If you are dieting and working out without seeing fitness results, a slow metabolism may be responsible. Hypothyroidism, genetics, age, and poor diet can cause slower metabolism. Signs that you have got a slow metabolism include weight gain, difficulty losing weight, frequent headaches, depression, fatigue, dry skin, brittle nails, and hair loss.

All hope is not lost. You can boost your metabolic rate by drinking water, starting a healthy diet, working out, trying supplements, and consulting your doctor.

+ 14 sources

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Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Anyabuine holds a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and is currently a medical student. She is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics.

Medically reviewed by:

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