Do You Have a Fast or a Slow Metabolism? Here Are the Science-Backed Signs

Updated 01/16/18

When discussing healthy eating habits and weight loss, metabolism is a major player, and yet its role is often misunderstood. We tend to oversimplify our understanding of our metabolism as something that slows as we age, making it harder to burn the calories we consume. Yet celebrity nutrition and fitness expert and author J.J. Virgin reminds us that our metabolisms are so much more complex than that. In a recent article in MindBodyGreen, Virgin, who has spent nearly three decades studying how lifestyle and food choices affect the metabolism, describes the body as a chemistry lab, not a bank account.

Maintaining a healthy weight isn't about counting calories, but it's about making lifestyle and diet choices that encourage the body to thrive. This is good news for your metabolism—meaning it's something malleable that can be reset, not something that's fixed at birth. If you're wondering if your metabolism is in need of a reset, Virgin outlined the classic signs of a slow metabolism—plus exactly how to turn things around.

Gas and bloating: If gas and bloating have become a common occurrence after meals, it could be a sign that your metabolism isn't up to snuff. "Up to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of digestive issue, including heartburn, leaky gut, poor digestion, and malabsorption," notes Virgin. "This can lead to body aches, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, inflammation, and a slow metabolism."

Stubborn weight gain: As expected, a slowed metabolism will often present itself in unwanted weight gain. "You'll find that even the go-to workout routines and diets that worked in the past seem to have zero impact," says Virgin. She explains that this condition is so prevalent that she's coined the term "weight-loss resistance" to describe it. Virgin notes that food intolerances often contribute to this resistance. She suggests looking into removing the biggest culprits such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and sweeteners to help reserve weight-loss resistance.

Blood sugar imbalance: If you find yourself craving carbs or tempted to continually snack, you could be experiencing blood sugar fluctuations. Giving in to these cravings will only worsen the situation. As Virgin warns, "after the sugar high bottoms out, you're left with the backlash of low energy, brain fog, and the overwhelming need to take a nap at your desk around 3 p.m." Virgin advises opting for lean, clean protein, healthy fats, and fiber at every meal to keep unhealthy cravings at bay. Also, breakfast can be a game changer.

Virgin says to eat one to two hours after waking up to help "prevent a blood sugar roller coaster and the resulting energy and mood swings."

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