Metabolism is the way the body uses calories to create energy, and there seem to be a few lucky people on the planet who can “eat anything” and never gain a pound. Many people have an average metabolism, but lack of certain things like some hormones may change the way the body performs its calorie conversion. Sometimes these changes are natural, and other times they can be the result of physical problems. Depending upon what is creating the issue there will be different symptoms of slow metabolism.
For instance, women who go through menopause lose access to hormones like estrogen, which play a strong role in helping to keep weight gain to a minimum. During the reproductive years, calorie needs are typically higher because some fat storage is required should women choose to have children. After menopause, women tend to need fewer calories and they gain weight more easily, especially around the midsection. It is true that women post-menopause have a slower metabolism than they did prior to menopause, though some women may not notice an appreciable difference particularly if they eat healthy diets and get plenty of exercise.
One of the main causes of the true “slow metabolism” is low thyroid hormone, which is actually fairly common and can occur in men and women. The symptoms for slow metabolism are usually listed as identical to those for hypothyroidism, and many people may mean low thyroid when they say slow metabolism. These symptoms are fatigue, easy weight gain, difficulty taking weight off, drying skin, brittle nails, lower than normal body temperature at mid-day, menstrual irregularities, depression, and significant hair loss. Not all symptoms have to be present for hypothyroidism to exist.
Thyroid conditions, when ignored, can have cumulatively destructive effects on the body including premature aging and early degradation of mental acuity. Getting checked for thyroid disorder when some of these symptoms are present or if slow metabolism is suspect, is well worthwhile. For those who initially show slightly high thyroid stimulating hormone levels, but normal thyroid 3 and thyroid 4 levels, it may be important to ask doctors for the antibody test for thyroid peroxidase. This can diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common autoimmune thyroid condition, and one that gets frequently missed.
Another way people might look at metabolism is by trying to sum up calories they consume against calories burned. Figuring out exactly how many calories are burned can be difficult, since this will depend on size, muscle mass and level of activity. Even intensity during activity could change the count but using a calorie counter, people can get a fair estimate of calories consumed each day. They can also keep track of how may calories they take in. With a moderate level of activity and moderate calorie consumption (depending on size, age, and gender) weight should stay stable, but if it increases, slow metabolism could be the cause.
Sometimes other things may result in slow metabolism, and the major symptoms could just be weight gain. This can include starving or not eating regularly. People who don’t eat at regular intervals tend to stop losing weight or even gain it, because their bodies may begin to conserve as many calories as they can. Medications can also change the way some bodies handle calories, and may depress the body’s ability to process calories.
What ought to be impressed upon most people is that weight gain with no other symptoms and no weight-inducing medications may not be the result of slow metabolism. Instead, it just may mean too many calories are going into the body for present level of activity. There is a fix for this. Analyze diet and determine where to cut some calories and add activity to the daily menu so more calories are burned. Should these measures prove inefficient, check with doctors for more advice or testing.