Metabolism Slowing Down?

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

As women age their production of various hormones changes. During perimenopause, the years preceding menopause that typically occurs at age 50, women begin to experience various symptoms including irregular cycles, water retention, bloating, mood swings, insomnia, lack of sexual desire, thinning bones, decreased muscle mass and tone, and weight gain. Women will typically experience increased body fat generally, and around the belly, buttocks, hips, and thighs specifically.

Things to consider and discuss with your healthcare provider:

1. Hormones: As women age their production of various hormones begin to change. Many women suffer from estrogen (estradiol) dominance or progesterone deficiency as well as testosterone deficiency. Too much estrogen and too little progesterone can influence thyroid gland function and thyroid hormone utilization. Since thyroid hormone helps regulate metabolic rate among other things, any disruption of its function or hindrance of thyroid hormone action, can produce hypothyroid symptoms.

Low testosterone levels can also mimic sluggish thyroid function or slow metabolism. Symptoms such as low energy, fatigue, lack of sexual desire, and decreased muscle mass, tone and strength are experienced by many women.

2. Decreased muscle mass, tone and strength: Decreased muscle mass due to hormone imbalance, lack of resistance training, lack of protein intake or other factors, will cause a slowing of metabolic rate secondary to inefficient utilization of fuels during exercise and at rest. This is a very important factor and should not be taken lightly. Muscle stimulates metabolism and weight training will increase muscle tone (density) and energy requirements.

In other words, you do not have to have big muscles, just ones that are tone and hungry. Proper weight training and protein intake will influence muscle integrity and subsequently metabolic rate.

On a side note: increased stress from emotional factors (job, relationships, financial, etc), illness or too much aerobic activity, can cause muscle tissue breakdown secondary to increased cortisol production. Muscle breakdown releases certain amino acids that can be converted to glucose, which is used for energy needs.

3. Poor diet: Bad eating habits including too many high-glycemic carbohydrates, processed foods, insufficient protein intake and too much alcohol, will cause an increase in weight gain and other metabolic dysfunction including insulin resistance (a topic for another post).


1. Have your hormones checked by a qualified healthcare provider who utilizes saliva testing as well as blood testing. Seek out someone who uses bioidentical hormones rather than synthetic hormones, and who prescribes via compounding pharmacies.

* Appendix D of my book reviews hormone deficiency symptoms and conditions, and offers various labs that provide home saliva test kits.

2. Incorporate weight training (lifting) as part of a cross training exercise routine.

3. Eat a well-balanced diet including low-glycemic carbohydrates, quality protein and fats, based on your body composition and metabolic needs. Balance is the key.

4. Follow the guidelines and recommendations described in my new book titled; The Naked Truth: Overweight, Overwhelmed and Confused

Yours for better health.

Dr. S

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, metabolism, weight gain, perimenopause, weight training, body fat


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