What's Metabolism? Is Yours Fast or Slow?

The kind of metabolism you have will determine how you should eat to be healthy and not to gain (or lose) too much weight.
What's Metabolism? Is Yours Fast or Slow?
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Actually, whether your metabolism is fast or slow doesn’t only have to do with how thin or not we are, but with the way we take advantage of food to be healthy and help the body to perform its functions correctly.

Metabolism is something that many people have heard of at some time, but that they don’t always know how to define exactly. Generally, the concept has been associated with figures or weight. However, it goes much further than that.

Discover in this article what metabolism is, how to know if it’s fast or slow, as well as the most suitable diet for each case, and the importance of physical activity, among other aspects.

What’s metabolism?

An image showing what is metabolism.

Generally, scientists define metabolism as the set of certain physical and chemical processes that take place in your cells. Through these changes, nutrients in food are transformed into energy.

In short, these reactions are the ones that transform the nutrients you eat or drink into the energy needed to carry out all vital functions.

Now, the energy produced by your metabolism is used in vital functions, including some of the following:

  • Breathing
  • Digestion
  • Circulation
  • Maintenance of body temperature
  • Elimination of waste through your kidneys and intestines

It also affects energy expenditure and calorie burning. That’s why you should consider your metabolism if you fail to lose weight despite following strict diets.

That’s also why it’s fundamental to eat a proper diet and regulate your metabolism naturally, according to the guidelines of a specialist (endocrinologist or nutritionist).

Try these Four Breakfasts with Oatmeal to Speed Up Metabolism

How to know if your metabolism is fast or slow

Next we will see how to know if your metabolism is fast or slow, which is important to define some actions, such as the diet you should follow.

The characteristics of slow metabolism

People with a slow metabolism may show the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • More frequent constipation
  • Slow or difficult digestion
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Risk of depression, in some cases
  • Difficulty losing weight or frequent weight changes
  • Fat accumulates in the hips and legs

The symptoms of fast metabolism

On the other hand, people with fast metabolism may show the following symptoms:

  • Constant hunger
  • Excess energy
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • A tendency towards nervousness and anxiety
  • Poor absorption of nutrients in the intestines
  • Difficulty putting on weight.
  • Fat accumulates in the arms and abdomen

The relationship between metabolism and your diet

There’s a nutritional theory that says that there’s a relationship between the kind of metabolism a person has and their eating preferences. From this perspective, you should learn what type of food best suits you if you want to be healthy and avoid gaining weight.

Below we’ll give you some recommendations; however, when there’s weight gain or obesity, it’s necessary to see a nutritionist or endocrinologist. They’ll recommend the best diet according to your medical history and symptoms.

A diet for people with fast metabolism

People with fast metabolism have a good appetite and usually prefer foods rich in fat and protein. They almost always opt for salty or savory over sweet.

Nevertheless, if this describes you, reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, especially sweets and refined (white) flours, to maintain a healthy weight.

However, it’s also very important not to overdo your consumption of animal proteins. Try to mix it up with vegetable proteins such as legumes or nuts.

Not all types of fat is harmful, as long as you opt for good quality fats:

  • Avocados
  • Seeds
  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Egg yolks
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Virgin cold-pressed oils: olive, coconut, sesame, flax

Don’t forget to combine protein and fats with a good amount of raw vegetables. Furthermore, have them in juices, smoothies, or salads. If you have a big appetite, eat several meals a day; don’t skip any of them.

You may also be interested in: 6 Exercises that Accelerate Your Metabolism

A diet for people with slow metabolism

People with a slow metabolism tend to gain weight and feel fatigued, despite not eating very much. In this sense, the best solution is based on adopting an adequate diet.

They usually go for sweets, which is generally not a healthy temptation. Therefore, our advice is to consume healthy carbohydrates made with sweeteners like stevia and whole grain flour. Reduce your intake of sodium, which usually causes bloating and water retention.

When you have a slow metabolism, you probably look for energy in stimulants such as coffee or soda. Furthermore, as an alternative, we suggest preparing your own energy drinks with fruits, ginger root, maca, pure cocoa, ginseng, etc.

Moderate your consumption of fats. So, eat them in moderate quantities, and choose the same ones we recommended for people with a fast metabolism. On the other hand, drinking water throughout the day, outside of meals, will also help accelerate your metabolism.

Can you speed up metabolism?

To make the metabolism faster, there are different proposals basically related to daily exercise and diet.

Keep your body moving

When we talk about getting moving, we refer to different activities, ranging from sports, to yoga, tai-chi, dancing, and walking. Anything other than being sedentary will help speed up your metabolism.

Additionally, it’s believed that physical exercise in general not only helps burn calories during activity, but even at rest. On the other hand, there are those who exercise twice a day. Of course, as long as the exercises are not repeated, the muscles will not get fatigued. For example, you can jog in the morning and lift weights in the afternoon.

Food that accelerates the metabolism

On the one hand, there’s talk of reducing calories, or rather, fats and carbohydrates, which are what accumulate, when we don’t spend them, making us gain weight.

But, in addition, it’s also said that there are foods that activate the metabolism since the body has to spend energy to process them. This is the case, for example, of protein of animal origin.

In addition to these, there’s talk of fruits, green tea, even caffeine, as well as peppers (they contain capsaicin). All of these have thermogenic properties, which speed up metabolism.

Eat more and spend more

There’s even a dietary plan proposed by Haylie Pomroy, according to which food should be consumed in several small portions per day instead of having a few larger meals.

This is a recommendation for those with a slow metabolism, which stimulates the body to activate itself to process food and make the most of the energy they provide.

In this regard, it’s recommended to have a light breakfast, then a snack, lunch, another snack, a light dinner, and, if needed, a small snack (for example, a piece of fruit).

Of course, each of these meals should be done in moderation in terms of quantity, also avoiding excess flour and carbohydrates, and including vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.

See a specialist

To find out what your metabolism is like and what is most appropriate for your body in order to look and feel good, it’s best to see your endocrinologist and nutritionist. They’ll be able to recommend a diet and physical activity routine according to your conditions and needs.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.