15 Things That Can Slow Your Metabolism and Hinder Weight Loss

A good metabolism is key to weight loss, but many factors can get in the way.


If it was just a case of cutting calories, eating sensibly and exercising regularly then weight loss would not be a problem.

However there are other things that affect your ability to lose weight, so do any of these apply to you?

1. Your genes

Metabolism is how your body changes food into energy. If your body is slow at burning calories while you rest or sleep, you probably got that from your parents, through your genes.

What you can do: Since you can’t change your genes, focus on your habits. One of the best ways to pep up your metabolism is to get more exercise so look for ways to sneak more activity into your day.

2. Hormones

Hormone imbalance can reduce your body’s energy use and that can make you tired.

Some conditions, like an underactive or overactive thyroid will also affect your metabolism.

What you can do: Check your hormone balance and stress levels. Stress also releases hormones that can trigger a slow-down so make it a priority to reduce it.

3. Lack of sleep

A good night’s sleep helps your metabolism stay steady. When you toss and turn night after night, it’s harder for your body to use energy well.

What you can do: Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep and there are plenty of ways to help improve it from herbal preparations to meditation and calming techniques before bedtime.

4. Strict diets

How you lose weight matters because if you don’t eat enough, your metabolism will definitely slow down.

Severe/crash diets, especially when you also exercise, teach your body to make do with fewer calories. That can backfire, because your body clings to those calories, which makes it harder to take weight off.

What you can do: Although it may take longer, keep your weight-loss plan realistic, not drastic, by steadily losing just a few pounds each week on a healthy and sustainable diet plan.

5. Salt

Sea salt is a favourite addition to our diet these days, but it lacks iodine, which your thyroid needs to manage your metabolism.

What you can do: No need to give up the sea salt, but also use just a dash of iodized table salt to meet that need.

Or enjoy iodine-rich foods like shrimp, seaweed, dairy, tuna and eggs.

6. You’re parched

Without enough water, your metabolism can stall. Some studies show that it helps the body burn energy and fuels weight loss.

At any temperature, water also helps you fill up, so you eat less.

What you can do: Sip it throughout the day and eat more foods that are naturally rich in water, such as watermelon or cucumbers.

7. You drink decaf

It’s a good option if you like a cup before bedtime, but you’ll miss out on the jolt of caffeine that gets your metabolic motor running.

Remember that some research shows coffee can affect blood sugar levels. So you may need to limit it if you have diabetes.

What you can do: If you can’t handle caffeine at all then try some of these other tips.

8. Not enough calcium

You need it for more than your bones as it’s also a key nutrient for a swift metabolism.

It also has many other positive benefits for your body and many people don’t get enough of it.

What you can do: You can get calcium from milk and dairy products, of course.

It’s also in many fortified foods (such as cereals, orange juice, and soy or almond milk), tinned salmon, kale, and tofu.

9. Bedroom temperature too high

It’s not always a good idea to have a cosy bedroom as room temperatures of 75 degrees keep your body from making brown fat, which is loaded with calorie-burning cells.

What you can do: Turning the thermostat down to 66 degrees before bedtime boosts brown-fat levels.

When it’s cold outside, taking regular brisk walks also may do that.

10. Medication

Some drugs can slow down your metabolism. These include many antidepressants and certain antipsychotics doctors use to treat schizophrenia.

Many other medications, like those that slow the heart rate, also can have that effect.

What you can do: Let your doctor know if you think your medication might be a problem as there may be something you could take instead.

11. Cutting carbohydrates

It is true that reducing unhealthy carbohydrates can help you manage your weight and burn fat faster. But your body needs them to make insulin.

Go low-carb all the time and you make less of this key hormone. Your metabolism stalls and you don’t burn as many calories as you once did.

What you can do: Get your carbs from fruit, vegetables, and grains that are rich in nutrients, like sweet potatoes and whole wheat flour.

They’ll keep your metabolism in check and head off those cravings that can take you off-track.

12. Being nocturnal

Catching an overnight flight or working the night shift definitely messes up your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Those changes can lead to a sluggish metabolism and other problems like diabetes and obesity.

What you can do: Reset your body clock by avoiding night time flights and if you work at night and can’t change, talk to your doctor about healthy ways you can get on track.

13. Changing meal times

When you eat is as important as what you eat. Skipping meals or grabbing a bite on the go creates social — and metabolic — jet lag.

Shifting meal times can wreak havoc with your metabolism and raise your risk for heart disease.

What you can do: Institute a regular mealtime and stick to it.

14. Chronic stress

When you are in a stressful situation, your body makes a hormone called cortisol which is meant to give you a quick boost of energy.

But if your stress levels remain consistent then your body gets stuck in the ‘flight or fight’ response, so it keeps making cortisol.

High levels of this hormone make it harder for your body to use insulin. That puts the brakes on your metabolism and fuels weight gain.

What you can do: Find ways you can de-stress from talking to a friend, relaxing with a book or some meditation or yoga.

Practice deep regular breathing, anything that you love will help, and just keep doing it.

15.High-fat diet

We all like the occasional blow out, but eating loads of fatty foods is never a healthy idea as it changes how your body breaks down foods and nutrients.

Your body’s ability to use insulin is affected, too – that’s called insulin resistance – and it’s been linked to obesity and diabetes.

What you can do: Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet, and drink more water.