If you are one of those lucky people who has a fast metabolism, you are both loved and loathed. A fast metabolism usually means that weight loss and/or maintaining your weight is easier than for most people.
Even though there are ways to speed up your metabolism through diet and exercise (and supplements that can enhance your metabolism), it is certainly a lot easier for those whose metabolisms are not working against them. So why do some people have a fast metabolism?
What is Metabolism?
Before explaining why some people have a faster metabolism than others, you first need to understand the role of metabolism in our bodies.
Metabolism has two parts—a catabolic reaction and an anabolic reaction. The catabolic reaction breaks down your food so it can be easily digested and the nutrients can go where they are supposed to in your body. The anabolic reaction occurs when these smaller, broken down pieces are used to build new tissue and take care of your body.
Basal metabolic rate refers to how fast your body breaks down your food. It is this rate that determines how fast or slow your overall metabolism is and, ultimately, how your body weight is affected. A fast metabolism is considered over the one hundred degree limit.
Symptoms of a Fast Metabolism
If you are having trouble gaining weight or muscle, that is usually the first sign that you may have a fast metabolism. This may sound good to some, but for people who are underweight, this can lead to some serious health issues.
In an attempt to gain weight, it can result in overeating fattening foods which can lead to other problems. Many people who are trying to gain weight will tend to eat all types of food that are not necessarily good for them.
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What Causes Fast Metabolism?
Genetics certainly plays a part in your body’s metabolism like it or not. There are three different body types—mesomorphs (those with athletic builds), endomorphs (those with bigger bodies) and ectomorphs (those with very thin builds).
Ectomorphs have a distinct build that make them the most likely candidates to have a fast metabolism. They are often thin with small shoulders, very little muscle mass and a delicate frame. Ectomorphs have a very difficult time gaining weight and putting on muscle due to their overly fast metabolism.
Aside from DNA, there are other causes for a fast metabolism. An overactive thyroid gland, known as hyperthyroidism, is one cause. Nervousness, fatigue, a rapid heart rate and weight loss are usual signs of hyperthyroidism. A doctor can have your thyroid tested if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect your thyroid is the cause of your speedy metabolism. To better regulate your thyroid health, you can try an iodine supplement.
Another reason someone may have a fast metabolism is if they smoke. This is just another reason not to pick up this habit ever in your life. In addition to all the other illnesses it can bring on, messing up your metabolism is another issue to add to the growing list. If you’re a smoker, please, consider quitting NOW.
If you are under stress, that too can affect your metabolism and speed it up. Both smoking and stress usually go hand in hand so finding a better way to deal with stress and quitting smoking is at least one cause that you can eliminate through a lifestyle change.
Disadvantages of a Fast Metabolism
For those who struggle with their weight and have tried just about everything to control it and keep it in check, having a fast metabolism sounds like a dream come true. But ask someone whose metabolizes food at the speed of light and they will tell you it is not as fun as it sounds. There are disadvantages to having a fast metabolism.
People who are overly thin tend to get accused for not eating enough or trying to starve themselves to look the way they do. For women, this is especially difficult to deal with as no woman wants to be looked at as someone with an eating disorder. Women with fast metabolisms may also experience difficulty with menstruation as their cycles can become irregular.
Another disadvantage of a fast metabolism is that building muscle is going to be much more difficult. Because your body is burning off your food so quickly, there is nothing to fuel muscle growth. The food is pretty much gone before it ever has a chance to be stored and that means losing important nutrients that assist in muscle growth.
Can You Slow a Fast Metabolism?
You can slow down a fast metabolism just like you can speed up a slow one. Diet is the most important factor when trying to slow things down. There are foods that metabolize slowly like sugars and processed and fried foods. But those are not the healthiest options.
Sure, if you have a fast metabolism you can indulge in these foods with little risk of weight gain, but ideally, you want to stick with healthier fats, proteins and carbohydrates to provide your body with some much needed weight.
Getting plenty of sleep also has metabolism-slowing effects as it helps to store the fat in your body. When it comes to exercise, avoid anything too strenuous as you will just burn off what you worked so hard to put on.
According to Judd Handler, a weight management consultant based in California, “If you’re used to doing 45 or 60 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill, try reducing to 20 minutes and instead, add a challenging weight-training routine that limits the amount of repetitions to 10-12 per set.” You can also try certain supplements to better regulate your metabolism.
If you suspect that you have a fast metabolism, you can either accept it as having something that is the envy of most people or you can check with your doctor to make sure that there are no underlying causes that need to be fixed.
While advocating a lifestyle of fatty foods and decreased exercise goes against most expert advice, people with a fast metabolism fall into a category all onto themselves.
You want to make sure that when you do eat foods to gain weight, they are still the healthier variety like whole wheat pasta and brown rice as opposed to the “white” foods. Being underweight can lead to health issues down the road so eating an extra serving of linguini now may save you from a more serious issue later.
To your success,
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer