Are you a SLOW burner?

How To Tell If You Have A Fast Or Slow Metabolism

Want to supercharge your metabolism to finally lose that weight and keep it off for good? Join fitness expert and NYT best-selling author JJ Virgin in our newest class Boost Your Metabolism: Lose Weight, Balance Blood Sugar & Increase Your Energy, where you’ll learn the secrets of revving up your metabolism to make sustained lifestyle changes for a healthier life.

When I hear people say they’re cursed with a slow metabolism or that weight gain is just a sign of aging, I can’t help but shake my head. Then I get even more resolved to continue my life’s work to set the record straight!

Sure, as we age, we have less room for error. But I’ve spent almost 30 years studying how food and lifestyle choices affect the metabolism. The truth is, there’s a lot we can do to boost metabolism. In fact, we can get better as we age—through our 30s, 40s, and well beyond our 50s!

With a fast metabolism, you can easily maintain a healthy weight, burn fat, and enjoy feeling confident and strong by building and maintaining youthful muscle. You also experience sharper mental focus and sustained energy throughout the day without that dreaded afternoon crash that sends people lining up for a cup of joe to get through the p.m. hours.

Unfortunately, many of my clients don’t show up in the above condition. More likely, they are suffering from a sluggish metabolism. Here are some of the classic signs of a slow metabolism; then I’ll share my pro tips for revving your metabolism for faster weight loss, sharper mental focus, and amazing energy so you’re at your best, no matter what age.

These are the classic signs of a slow metabolism.

Let’s first go over signature signs of a slow metabolism. See if you can relate to any of these:

1. Weight gain that won’t budge.

With a slow metabolism, stubborn weight gain shows up—especially around the middle. You’ll find that even the go-to workout routines and diets that worked in the past seem to have zero impact. This is such a prevalent condition, I’ve coined the term “weight loss resistance” to describe it. The good news is that there is actually a LOT you can do to turn this around (but more on that later).

2. Gas and bloating.

Are Tums or Rolaids on your daily after-dinner menu to head off the embarrassing and uncomfortable gas and bloating that take over after every meal? You’re not alone! Up to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of digestive issue, including heartburn, leaky gut, poor digestion, and malabsorption. This can lead to body aches, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, inflammation, and a slow metabolism.

3. Hormone imbalances.

When your metabolism is slacking off, hormones can also get out of balance. You end up with dry, scaly skin and thinning hair. Check your mirror to see if you are thinning at the crown or if the ends of your eyebrows are getting sparse. Having trouble staying warm, especially in your extremities? You guessed it—that’s another signal from your body that your metabolism could use a makeover.

4. Blood sugar imbalance.

Signs of blood sugar imbalance include carb cravings and the urge to eat every few hours. Otherwise, you risk getting “hangry” and snapping at everyone around you as you storm your way toward that bag of chips or plate of cookies. 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.

If any of the above sound familiar, don’t worry, because I’ve got some answers for you!

6 Mistakes That Slow Down Your Metabolism

Keeping your metabolism high is crucial for losing weight and keeping it off.

However, several common lifestyle mistakes may slow down your metabolism.

On a regular basis, these habits could make it hard to lose weight — and even make you more prone to gain weight in the future.

Here are 6 lifestyle mistakes that can slow down your metabolism.

Mistakes That Slow Metabolism


1. Eating too few calories

Eating too few calories can cause a major decrease in metabolism.

Although a calorie deficit is needed for weight loss, it can be counterproductive for your calorie intake to drop too low.

When you dramatically lower your calorie intake, your body senses that food is scarce and lowers the rate at which it burns calories.

Controlled studies in lean and overweight people confirm that consuming fewer than 1,000 calories per day can have a significant impact on your metabolic rate (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

Most studies measure resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories burned during rest. Yet some also measure calories burned during rest and activity over 24 hours, which is referred to as total daily energy expenditure.

In one study, when obese women ate 420 calories per day for 4–6 months, their resting metabolic rates slowed down significantly.

What’s more, even after they increased their calorie intake over the following five weeks, their resting metabolic rates remained much lower than before the diet (3Trusted Source).

In another study, overweight people were asked to consume 890 calories per day. After 3 months, their total calorie expenditure dropped by 633 calories on average (4Trusted Source).

Even when calorie restriction is more moderate, it can still slow metabolism.

In a 4-day study in 32 people, the resting metabolic rate of those who ate 1,114 calories per day slowed more than twice as much as that of those who consumed 1,462 calories. However, weight loss was similar for both groups (5Trusted Source).

If you’re going to lose weight by calorie restriction, don’t restrict your calorie intake too much — or for too long.

SUMMARYCutting calories too much and for too long lowers your metabolic rate, which can make weight loss and weight maintenance more difficult.

2. Skimping on protein

Eating enough protein is extremely important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

In addition to helping you feel full, high protein intake can significantly increase the rate at which your body burns calories (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

The increase in metabolism that occurs after digestion is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).

The thermic effect of protein is much higher than that of carbs or fat. Indeed, studies indicate that eating protein temporarily increases metabolism by about 20–30% compared to 5–10% for carbs and 3% or less for fat (9Trusted Source).

Although metabolic rate inevitably slows during weight loss and continues to be slower during weight maintenance, evidence suggests that higher protein intake can minimize this effect.

In one study, participants followed one of three diets in an effort to maintain a 10–15% weight loss.

The diet highest in protein reduced total daily energy expenditure by only 97 calories, compared to 297–423 calories in people who consumed less protein (10Trusted Source).

Another study found that people needed to eat at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.2 grams per kg) to prevent their metabolism from slowing during and after weight loss (11Trusted Source).

SUMMARYProtein increases metabolic rate more than carbs or fat. Increased protein intake helps preserve metabolic rate during weight loss and maintenance.

3. Leading a sedentary lifestyle

Being sedentary may lead to a significant decrease in the number of calories you burn every day.

Notably, many people have lifestyles that mainly involve sitting at work, which can have negative effects on metabolic rate and overall health (12).

Although working out or playing sports can have a major impact on the number of calories you burn, even basic physical activity, such as standing up, cleaning, and taking the stairs, can help you burn calories.

This type of activity is referred to as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

One study found that a high amount of NEAT could burn up to 2,000 additional calories per day. However, such a dramatic increase is not realistic for most people (13Trusted Source).

Another study noted that watching TV while sitting burns an average of 8% fewer calories than typing while sitting — and 16% fewer calories than standing (14Trusted Source).

Working at a standing desk or simply getting up to walk around several times per day can help increase your NEAT and prevent your metabolism from dropping.

SUMMARYBeing inactive reduces the number of calories you burn during the day. Try to minimize sitting and increase your general activity levels.

4. Not getting enough high-quality sleep

Sleep is extremely important for good health.

Sleeping fewer hours than you need may increase your risk of a number of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and depression (15Trusted Source).

Several studies note that inadequate sleep may also lower your metabolic rate and increase your likelihood of weight gain (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

One study found that healthy adults who slept 4 hours per night for 5 nights in a row experienced a 2.6% decrease in resting metabolic rate, on average. Their rate returned to normal after 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep (17Trusted Source).

Lack of sleep is made worse by sleeping during the day instead of at night. This sleep pattern disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms, or internal clock.

A five-week study revealed that prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian rhythm disruption decreased resting metabolic rate by an average of 8% (18Trusted Source).

SUMMARYGetting adequate, high-quality sleep and sleeping at night rather than during the day can help preserve your metabolic rate.

5. Drinking sugary beverages

Sugar-sweetened drinks are detrimental to your health. High consumption is linked to various ailments, including insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Many of the negative effects of sugar-sweetened beverages can be attributed to fructose. Table sugar contains 50% fructose, while high-fructose corn syrup packs 55% fructose.

Frequently consuming sugar-sweetened beverages may slow down your metabolism.

In a 12-week controlled study, overweight and obese people who consumed 25% of their calories as fructose-sweetened beverages on a weight-maintaining diet experienced a significant drop in metabolic rate (21Trusted Source).

Not all studies support this idea. One study noted that overeating high-fructose corn syrup compared to whole wheat did not affect 24-hour metabolic rate (22Trusted Source).

However, research shows that excessive fructose consumption promotes increased fat storage in your belly and liver (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

SUMMARYA high intake of fructose-containing beverages may reduce metabolic rate and promote fat storage in your belly and liver.

6. A lack of strength training

Working out with weights is a great strategy to keep your metabolism from slowing.

Strength training has been shown to increase metabolic rate in healthy people, as well as those who have heart disease or are overweight or obese (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

It increases muscle mass, which makes up much of the fat-free mass in your body. Having a higher amount of fat-free mass significantly increases the number of calories you burn at rest (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

Even minimal amounts of strength training appear to boost energy expenditure.

In a 6-month study, people who performed strength training for 11 minutes per day, 3 days a week, experienced a 7.4% increase in resting metabolic rate and burned 125 extra calories per day, on average (35Trusted Source).

In contrast, not doing any strength training can cause your metabolic rate to decline, especially during weight loss and aging (32Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).

SUMMARYStrength training increases muscle mass and helps preserve your metabolic rate during weight loss and aging.


Here’s how to boost your metabolism and burn fat.

Your body is not a bank account; it’s a chemistry lab. In terms of weight loss, it’s not just about calories in and calories out. The foods you eat and your lifestyle choices send signals to your body that tell it to either thrive or break down. It sounds daunting, but actually, this is great news because once you know what to do, you can take control and reset your metabolism. Here are some tips that will tell your metabolism to wake up and get moving:

1. Turn yourself into a fat burner.

Avoid the kitchen after dinner to create a 12- to 14-hour overnight fast. This will prepare your body to burn fat the next morning. Eating one to two hours after waking up will help you prevent a blood sugar roller coaster and the resulting energy and mood swings. Also, if you nix snacking between meals and eat every four to six hours, you avoid spiking your insulin constantly and allow your body to dip into your fat stores for energy. To keep cravings at bay, make sure you have lean, clean protein; healthy fats; and fiber at every meal. Grab a copy of my New York Times best-selling book, The Sugar Impact Diet, to get my three-step process to shift from a sugar burner to a fat burner!

2. Get rid of food intolerances.

I wrote another NY Times best-seller all about food intolerances, The Virgin Diet, and it explains why they play such a huge part of reversing weight-loss resistance. Food intolerances cause a cascade of health issues, including leaky gut, immune reactions, and chronic inflammation, which affect metabolism. By removing the biggest culprits—including gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and sweeteners—my clients typically lose up to 7 pounds in the first seven days!

3. Drink lots of water.

Staying hydrated has been shown to increase metabolism as much as 30 percent. Conversely, just 2 percent dehydration can causeexercise performance to suffer, impair your alertness, create an inability to focus, and encourage signs of fatigue. So make sure you’re sipping water throughout the day. The only time to slow down or avoid water is when dining so you don’t dilute digestive enzymes that break down food for absorption.

4. Start burst training.

Say goodbye to all those hours on the treadmill. Endurance exercises like long-distance running actually cause your body to break down (think muscle loss!), stress your immune system, and may even cause weight gain. To get your body into fat-burning mode and kick up your metabolism, try burst training, otherwise known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). When you do this first thing in the morning, it causes an oxygen deficit that your body needs to make up during the day, which will cause greater fat loss.

5. Manage stress.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but when it becomes chronic, your stress hormone, cortisol, starts to work against you by breaking down muscle, storing fat, and causing insulin resistance. To boost your metabolism, make de-stressing a priority: Meditate, pencil in time with a bestie, or indulge in a relaxing bath with lavender essential oil and candles.

6. Get serious about sleep.

Make sure you get seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. This will boost your human growth hormone (hello, fat burn) and quiet your hunger hormones. Studies show that sleep deprivation can prevent weight loss, even if you follow a great diet, so don’t sabotage all of your hard work by burning the midnight oil. In fact, just one night of sleep deprivation can affect your metabolism, resulting in weight gain and blood sugar issues.

Now, it’s your turn! Follow these tips to boost your metabolism, become a fat burner, and set yourself up to be in the best shape of your life at any age.



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