How to Decrease Your Metabolism

March 26, 2014 - Comment

How to Decrease Your Metabolism from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit Your metabolism is the rate at which you “burn off” energy from the food you eat. Everybody’s metabolism is slightly different, so everybody has slightly different needs when it comes to calories. As a general rule, the smaller and

How to Decrease Your Metabolism

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Your metabolism is the rate at which you “burn off” energy from the food you eat. Everybody’s metabolism is slightly different, so everybody has slightly different needs when it comes to calories. As a general rule, the smaller and more physically active you are, the faster your metabolism. Growing children also tend to have fast metabolisms. For a detailed discussion of how to lower your metabolism, read the following tips and tricks.


Calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate

  1. Determine your basal metabolic rate (metabolism at rest). You can find an online calculator, or you can use the following formulas, depending on your gender:
    • Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)[1]
    • Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in year)[1]
  2. Calculate your total daily calorie needs using a formula known as the Harris-Benedict equation. Once you have calculated your BMR, you can estimate your total calorie needs for different levels of activity. Decreasing your metabolism means you are “turning down” your body’s internal furnaces, which lowers your calorie requirements. Use your BMR to make the following calculations. If you:
    • Are inactive or exercise rarely: Calories to stay the same weight = BMR x 1.2[1]
    • Exercise lightly 1 to 3 days per week: Calories to stay the same weight = BMR x 1.375[1]
    • Exercise moderately for 3 to 5 days per week: Calories to stay the same weight = BMR x 1.55[1]
    • Exercise actively for 6 to 7 days per week: Calories to stay the same weight = BMR x 1.725[1]
    • Exercise intensely every day: Calories to stay the same weight = BMR x 1.9[1]

Decreasing Your Metabolism in Order to Gain Weight

  1. Understand that “slow metabolisms” aren’t necessarily responsible for weight gain. If you want to gain weight, go here for a discussion of how to do so in a healthy way. Doctors generally agree that other factors are more responsible for weight gain or weight loss than your metabolism.[2] These factors include:
    • How many calories you consume daily.
    • How much and how intensely you exercise.
    • Your genetics and family history.
    • The medications you may be taking.
    • Other unhealthy habits such as not getting enough sleep.
  2. Understand that slowing your metabolism might not be the healthiest way to gain weight. Slowing your metabolism can involve some pretty unpleasant things: skipping meals, eating few calories, etc. Proper, medically-sound weight gain often involves:
    • Increasing caloric intake. Eating more calories than your body burns in a day.
    • Addressing any underlying medical issue that might be causing you to lose weight, e.g. thyroid issues, diabetes, anorexia nervosa.
  3. Skip meals. If you want to decrease your metabolic rate, start skipping meals. This is not a healthy way to lower your metabolism, but it’s effective. Skipping meals causes the body to think that it might have to start preparing for famine, causing it to lower its metabolism in an effort to save energy.[3]
  4. Eat fewer calories. When you give your body fewer calories, it compensates by lowering your overall metabolic rate.[3] And it makes sense: with fewer overall calories to work with, your body can’t expect to use the same amount of energy that it can when it’s getting more calories.
    • Note: When you give your body fewer calories, it might start burning muscles or body tissue in order to compensate for the lack of calories it’s getting. If you are already skinny, this isn’t a good method for weight gain.
  5. Take naps. Every time you sleep, your metabolic rate dips and then remains suppressed for a period after you awaken.[4][5]
  6. Replace simple carbohydrates (sugar) with complex carbohydrates (starch and fiber) when possible. Studies show that sugars and fruit are digested and absorbed more rapidly than complex carbohydrates, such as bread, producing a rollercoaster of blood sugar with high peaks and low troughs.[6] It has also been shown[7] that the total carbohydrate oxidation over a six-hour period is lower with complex carbohydrates (bread and maize starch) than with sugars.[6]
    • Sucrose (table sugar) also contains fructose, while complex carbohydrates are made up exclusively of glucose units. Fructose consumption results in greater thermogenesis (calorie burning) than glucose consumption.[8]
    • Choose high-fiber foods such as grains (especially whole grains) and vegetables. High-fiber meals have been shown to reduce thermogenesis (calorie burning) for six hours after eating.[9]
  7. Include nuts and seeds in the diet. Of all the foods you can eat, nuts and seeds, which contain almost no moisture and provide healthful unsaturated fats, have the highest caloric density, packing in the most calories per ounce. Polyunsaturated fats, such as those in nuts, have been shown to be oxidized more slowly than monounsaturated fats.[10] Nuts and seeds are also rich in the amino acid arginine. Arginine is used by the body to make nitric oxide, a gas that has been shown to reduce the metabolic rate.[11][12][13]

Decreasing Your Metabolism in a Survival Situation

  1. Dress warmly. Heat loss is a major energy drain, so dress warmly to slow down your metabolism. When you are cold, your body increases the levels of uncoupling protein in your cells. Uncoupling proteins interfere with ATP production, resulting in heat instead of useful energy from the food that you eat.
    • Levels of thyroid hormone also rise in this situation. This may serve to initiate the production of uncoupling proteins. Thyroid hormone is “the most significant regulator of basal metabolic rate”[14] representing about one-half of the BMR.[15]
  2. Huddle with other people if you have company. Move to the warmest area you can find, or build a shelter if you are outdoors.
  3. Lie still. Everything that you do burns calories. Even small things like picking up sticks or skipping rocks. After you have been exercising for a while, your metabolism remains elevated for a period of time, even when you are resting.[16][17] Every mile that you walk burns 100 calories, and that does not account for the increase in metabolism produced by exercise. Try to sleep if possible.
  4. Do not drink cold water or eat snow. Your body will expend energy to warm up the water.[18] This is energy that you could be saving for a more life-critical task, such as hunting for food for surveying for escape routes.


  • Try to relax. While you may be finding yourself in a frightening situation, becoming stressed will only cause your body to use more energy. Stress raises levels of adrenaline and thyroxine, two hormones that powerfully increase metabolism. This is called the fight-or-flight response.
  • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, speeds up your heart rate, and raises your metabolism.
  • Stay warm, but don’t let your body overheat. Make sure that whatever you’re wrapped in can let a little air circulate. Being too warm causes you to perspire and forces your body to burn more calories, just like being too cold.
  • You can tweak your metabolism up or down, but only within limits. There is no doubt, for example, that sleeping decreases metabolism, but this decrease may be smaller than some people think: sleep lowers metabolism 5-10% compared to wakeful restfulness.[19] Genes play a role, too, but this role has been overstated. On the other hand, body composition can be a significant factor. People who are tall and thin lose heat more easily than people who are stockier. People with greater muscle mass are stronger and healthier but also need more food. This is why men tend to need more Calories than women. Age is another factor beyond our control; metabolism decreases throughout our lifetimes, about 2% each decade. Older people have slightly lower calorie needs. There are some factors controlling metabolism (such as ion pumps, e.g., the sodium-potassium pump) that researchers do not know as much about are still investigating. Illness and menstruation are among the factors that we cannot change and that can increase metabolism and energy needs.
  • Keep in mind that a comfortable temperature (not too cold or too hot) is best for conserving energy. Research shows, specifically, that the body uses energy most efficiently at 24-27°C (75.2-80.6°F). A range of 20-22°C (68-71.6°F), while within the range of room temperature, causes the body to produce additional body heat. Just this slight difference has been shown to increase metabolism 2-5%. A range of 28-30°C (82.4-86°F) increases metabolism the same amount and actually causes heat-induced thermogenesis.[20] The body does not make less heat in hot weather (body heat production is regulated by thyroid hormone, which is produced by the body at a constant rate) but actually makes more, due to energy-consuming processes such as perspiration. Your body cannot reduce obligatory thermogenesis to make you feel cooler or to conserve energy.
  • If you have hyperthyroidism, consider taking potassium iodide (120-300 mg iodine/day).[21] Before the development of the antithyroid drugs in the 1940’s, potassium iodide was the only chemical compound known to treat hyperthyroidism.[22] The antithyroid drugs methimazole and propylthiouracil take weeks to lower thyroid hormone levels. The thyroid gland has a huge supply of hormone already formed that it can secrete into the bloodstream, even if the production of new thyroid hormone is suppressed. Methimazole and propylthiouracil reduce the production of thyroid hormone, but they do not block the release of preformed hormone. Potassium iodide, by contrast, blocks both the production of new thyroid hormone and the release of preformed hormone. It can produce a decrease in metabolic rate comparable to that seen in thyroidectomy within 24 hours.[22] The ability of potassium iodide to quickly block the uptake and organification of iodide in the thyroid gland (the first step in thyroid hormone production) is the reason potassium iodide is used in nuclear emergencies to protect the thyroid gland from iodine 131, a radioactive form of iodine that causes cancer.


  • If you lower your metabolism and continue to take in the same number of calories you were eating before, you will gain weight. Your body does not need as much food with a slower metabolism, and it will store the extra energy as fat.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

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  4. “[What could not beauty be lack of]?” Health Care. February 6, 2013. “The person is in a sleep state. The metabolic rate will reach a minimum. The early morning awakening, metabolism will gradually return to normal levels.”
  5. William J. Evans, William Evans, and Gerald Secor Couzens (2003), AstroFit: The Astronaut Program for Anti-Aging, Simon and Schuster, pg. 77, ISBN 9780743216821. “Your metabolism, which is measured in the lab as the number of calories per minute per kilogram of body weight you use, is lowest upon awakening and highest during vigorous activities.”
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thomas M. S. Wolever (2006), The Glycaemic Index: A Physiological Classification of Dietary Carbohydrate, CABI, pg. 65, ISBN 9781845930516. “Indeed, blood glucose responses elicited by pure sugars and fruits suggest rapid absorption because the blood glucose concentration rises more quickly and falls more rapidly than after bread (Wolever et al., 1993; Lee and Wolever, 1998).”
  7. Daly ME et al. Acute fuel selection in response to high-sucrose and high-starch meals in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1516-24.
  8. Tappy L et al. “Comparison of thermogenic effect of fructose and glucose in normal humans”. Am J Physiol. 1986 Jun;250(6 Pt 1):E718-24.
  9. Jie Kang, Bioenergetics Primer for Exercise Science, pg. 147. “The TEF (thermic effect of food) was 6.9% with the lower-fiber meal, 5.1% after the glucomannan-supplemented meal, and 4.5% after the high-fiber meal. These effects were particularly apparent from 2 to 6 h after ingestion.”
  10. Jones PJH. Pencharz PB, Clandinin MT. “Whole body oxidation of dietary fatty acids: implications for energy utilization.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Nov;42:769-777.
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  12. [Xie YW, Shen W, Zhao G, Xu X, Wolin MS, Hintze TH. Role of endothelium-derived nitric oxide in the modulation of canine myocardial mitochondrial respiration in vitro: implications for the development of heart failure. Circ Res. 1996;79(3):381–387.
  13. Shen W, Xu X, Ochoa M, Zhao G, Wolin MS, Hintze TH. “Role of nitric oxide in the regulation of oxygen consumption in conscious dogs.” Circ Res. 1994 Dec;75(6):1086-95.
  14. Gavrilova O et al. “Torpor in mice is induced by both leptin-dependent and -independent mechanisms”. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Dec 7;96(25):14623-8.
  15. Laura Batmanian, Ward Worral Batmanian, Simon Worrall, Justin Ridge (2009), Biochemistry for Health Professionals, Elsevier Australia, pg. 182, ISBN 9780729538749. “The total deficiency of thyroid hormones can reduce basal metabolic rate up to 50%, while excessive production of thyroid hormones can cause the basal metabolic rate to increase by 100%.”
  19. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients), pg 118.
  20. Maurice Edward Shils and Moshe Shike, Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, pg. 143. “Cold- and heat-induced thermogenesis refers to the increase in EE [energy expenditure] that is induced at ambient temperatures below or above the zone of thermoneutrality. Studies consistently suggest that low-normal temperatures of 20 to 22°C and high temperatures of 28 to 30°C are associated with an increase in sedentary EE of 2 to 5% compared with temperatures of 24 to 27°C.”
  21. Calvin Ezrin, John O. Godden, Robert Volpé, Systematic endocrinology, pg. 112, 1979.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Louis Sanford Goodman, Alfred Goodman Gilman (1996), Goodman and Gilman’s the pharmacological basis of therapeutics (9th ed.), McGraw-Hill, pg. 1402, ISBN 978-0-07-026266-9.

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