three generations of women
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1. Your Genes

Metabolism is how your body changes food into energy. If your body is slow at burning calories while you rest or sleep, you probably got that from your parents, through your genes.

What you can do: Since you can’t change your genes, focus on your habits. One of the best ways to pep up your metabolism is to get more exercise. Look for ways to sneak more activity into your day.

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tired woman with eyes closed
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2. Hormones

A shift in your hormones can put the brakes on your body's energy use. That can make you tired. Some conditions, like an underactive or overactive thyroid and diabetes, are hormonal diseases that affect your metabolism. Stress also releases hormones that can trigger a slow-down. 

What you can do: If you have a medical condition, keep up with your treatment. And make it a priority to nip stress in the bud.

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man working on laptop late at night
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3. Your Lack of Sleep

Good shut-eye helps your metabolism stay steady. When you toss and turn night after night, it’s harder for your body to use energy well, which can make conditions like diabetes and obesity more likely. 

What you can do: Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. If you’re not there now, try it for a week and see how much better you feel.

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few peas on a plate diet
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4. Strict Diets

How you lose weight matters. If you don't eat enough, your metabolism switches to slow-mo. Severe diets, especially when you also exercise, teach your body to make do with fewer calories. That can backfire, because your body clings to those calories, which makes it harder to take weight off.

What you can do: Although it may take longer, keep your weight-loss plan realistic, not drastic.

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sea salt in wooden spoon
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5. Trendy Salt

Sea salt is a darling for foodies and chefs. You’ll find it in top restaurants and gourmet kitchens. But it lacks iodine, which your thyroid needs to manage your metabolism.

What you can do: Just a dash of iodized table salt meets that need. Or enjoy an iodine-rich food, like shrimp.

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cracked earth
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6. You’re Parched

Without enough H2O, your metabolism can stall. How about a tall, cool glass of water? Some studies show that it helps the body burn energy and fuels weight loss. At any temperature, water also helps you fill up, so you eat less.

What you can do: Sip it throughout the day. You also can eat more foods that are naturally rich in water, such as watermelon or cucumbers.

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coffee pots in diner
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7. You Drink Decaf

It’s a good option if you like a cup before bedtime. But you’ll miss out on the jolt of caffeine that gets your metabolic motor running. Remember that some research shows coffee can affect blood sugar levels. So you may need to limit it if you have diabetes.

What you can do: If you can’t handle caffeine, lean into the other tips in this slideshow. Many things can help your metabolism, and you’ll want to use as many of them as possible.

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xray of the hand
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8. Not Enough Calcium

You need it for more than your bones. It’s also a key nutrient for a swift metabolism, among the other positive things it does for your body. Many people don’t get enough of it.

What you can do: There are many delicious options! You can get calcium from milk and dairy products, of course. It’s also in many fortified foods (such as cereals, orange juice, and soy or almond milk), canned salmon, turnip greens, kale, and tofu.

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home thermostat
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9. Your Thermostat Is Set Too High

It's not always a good idea to heat things up in the bedroom -- at least not when it comes to your metabolism. Room temperatures of 75 degrees keep your body from making brown fat, which is loaded with calorie-burning cells.

What you can do: Turning the thermostat down to 66 degrees before bedtime boosts brown-fat levels. When it’s cold outside, taking regular brisk walks also may do that.

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prescription pills and bottle
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10. Your Meds

Some drugs can slow down your metabolism. These include many antidepressants and certain antipsychotics doctors use to treat schizophrenia. Many other medications, like those that slow the heart rate, also can have that effect.

What you can do: Let your doctor know if you think your prescriptions might be a problem. There may be something you could take instead.

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woman washing fruit
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11. Cutting Carbs

Sure, easing up on unhealthy carbohydrates can help you manage your weight and burn fat faster. But your body needs them to make insulin. Go low-carb all the time and you make less of this key hormone. Your metabolism stalls and you don't burn as many calories as you once did. 

What you can do: Get your carbs from fruits, vegetables, and grains that are rich in nutrients, like sweet potatoes and whole wheat flour. They’ll keep your metabolism in check and head off those cravings that can take you off-track.

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12. Being Nocturnal

Catching the red-eye flight or working the night shift messes with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Those changes can lead to a sluggish metabolism and other problems like diabetes and obesity.

What you can do: Reset your body clock. If you take a lot of red-eye flights, get a different departure time. If you work at night and can’t change, talk to your doctor about healthy ways you can get on track.

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family eating dinner
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13. Changing Meal Times

When you eat is as important as what you eat.  Skipping meals or grabbing a bite on the go creates social -- and metabolic -- jet lag. Shifting meal times can wreak havoc with your metabolism and raise your risk for heart disease.

What you can do: Consider a regular mealtime with your family, and stick to it.

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14. Chronic Stress

When you are in a stressful situation, your body makes a hormone called cortisol. It’s meant to give you a quick boost of energy. But if you’re stuck in a stressed-out zone, the body thinks you still need to fight, so it keeps making cortisol. High levels of this hormone make it harder for your body to use insulin. That puts the brakes on your metabolism and fuels weight gain. 

What you can do: Find ways you can de-stress. Breathe deep. Do something you love. Find what works for you.

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woman drinking fruit water
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15. A High-Fat Diet

Eating loads of fatty foods like greasy burgers and buttery goodies is never a healthy idea. It changes how your body breaks down foods and nutrients. Your body’s ability to use insulin is affected, too. That’s called insulin resistance, and it’s been linked to obesity and diabetes. 

What you can do: Reach for more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water. Beans, peppers, and shellfish are good options, too.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/01/2018 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 01, 2018

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Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 01, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.