Man who fell asleep for 100 years

Help: Has my metabolism fallen asleep?

The horror during or after a diet: the metabolism fell asleep! But is this myth really true, can the human metabolism come to a standstill?

Nothing works anymore, the scales don't move and you just feel dull and drained - this picture is one of the Horror scenarios of every weight loss attempt. It is not without good reason that the idea of ​​such a dilemma gives us a headache, as it would make the toil of weeks of privation appear to be in vain!
So that this doesn't happen to you, she's waiting here solution on you: what you actually mean when you talk about a sleepy metabolism, what the root cause this phenomenon is and above all how you can protect yourself from the frustrating consequences for your own diet, you will find out now!


Signs that the metabolism has fallen asleep

The phenomenon is best known in the context of a diet: While the kilos seem to tumble in the first days and weeks, the attempt to lose weight eventually hits the wall - nothing happens anymore!
The frustration that little or nothing moves on the scales is often accompanied not only by an unspeakable feeling of disillusionment, but also one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Increased feeling of cold

If one or more of these symptoms occur in combination with an unruly-looking scale, athletes like to talk about the Metabolism fell asleep be.
But what exactly is behind it, and above all: What can you do about it?

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The cause behind a dormant metabolism

The solution to the riddle has to do with the "accelerator" of our metabolism, the thyroid:
Much like a car that generates the energy it needs to drive from oxygen and gasoline, humans help us Breathing air and food - our gasoline - to work. Just as oxygen and gasoline consumption increase in a car when we drive faster, we humans also need more oxygen and food when we exert ourselves properly, for example during weight training. Up to this point, cars and humans are very similar in principle.

One major difference however, it occurs as soon as there is a shortage of gasoline or food.
Let's start with the car: It is controlled by one brain, the driver, and has a second brain, the control unit, which, however, has little to say in terms of decision-making. The car doesn't really care how full or empty its tank is - if we as the driver step on the accelerator properly, we can drive at full throttle until we come to a halt with an empty tank at some point. Warning lights can show us that a problem is waiting for us, but we can safely ignore them.

It is different with the human body: Although we go through life with open eyes and (should) make conscious decisions, we are supported in everyday life by several co-pilots: for example our subconscious, the so-called limbic system, or our nervous system, especially the vegetative nervous system.
In contrast to a car, however, our co-pilots have one with regard to energy utilization proper say: While the car continues to accelerate stubbornly and rigidly, although the tank is getting emptier, our co-pilots step on the brakes and interfere - so that we as humans do not use up all our energy, fall over and die.

If the symptoms described above occur during a phase in which food is scarce - for example in a diet - this is a sign that our co-pilots are at work and are forcing our bodies to drive slower:
The activity of our body's metabolic accelerator, the thyroid, is downregulated, one Hypothyroidism arises. If our metabolism is no longer working properly, our body temperature begins to drop, we freeze faster, the pressure and the speed with which blood is pumped through our veins decrease and we feel distracted and drowsy because our brain is also undersupplied - ours Metabolism is practically running In slow motion from.

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Triggers for an underactive thyroid

An underactive thyroid can be triggered by a wide variety of events genetic predisposition up to Autoimmune diseases. In the context of a diet, for example in the definition phase in bodybuilding, a long-term calorie deficit can get the ball rolling: If our body notices that our "tank" is emptying every day, it intervenes so that our reserves last longer .

What has ensured our survival over the past millennia, namely the energy-efficient adaptation of our body to its environment, grabs our legs when losing weight: To put it bluntly, the more we try, the less and less we lose weight, because our body struggles against relinquishing its precious, vital energy reserves.

This phenomenon has been well researched by science today:
As early as 1976, the Effects of both Fasting periods as well as reduced calorie diets examined for our thyroid hormones, the examination period was 2 weeks - so comparatively short if you consider the duration of an average diet.
The astonishing result: Even such a short period of deprivation was enough to be fasted for a Reduction of our thyroid hormone T3 by 53% and, as part of a reduced calorie diet (800kcal / day), for a T3-Reduction of 47% to be responsible [1].
Follow-up studies supported the result: In a study published a good 30 years later, the research team examined the effects of calorie restriction on the level of thyroid hormones. This time, the investigation period was chosen to be significantly longer: For up to 15 years almost 90 men and women were observed and examined! The result here too: A long-lasting calorie restriction was imposed by a permanently low levels of thyroid hormone T3 accompanied [2]whereas the levels of the thyroid hormones T4 and TSH were similar to those of the comparison groups.

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What to do when your metabolism is asleep

Suppose we have already driven the cart in the dung and can identify with the symptoms mentioned above - what can we doto wake our thyroid out of hibernation again?
As first logical step Of course, it is important to compensate for the calorie deficit, and as quickly as possible! But unfortunately it's not that simple: Pass ours Refeed mainly from proteins, this has no effect on the thyroid function - only the consumption of carbohydrates provides the desired T3-Rise [3]. This result fits very well with the findings of another study in which it was observed that the level of the thyroid hormone T3 during a high carb- fell significantly less than during one low carb-Diet [4].

Diets in general, however especially low-carbohydrate diet variants slow down our metabolism.
A low T.3-Mirror means here, however Not It is imperative that we are sick, in this context it only represents our nutritional status and the current position of our body's own "accelerator". This feedback mechanism of our body was a great ace up the sleeve of human evolution, but it really hinders us in our weight loss goals - first world problems!
But what can you effectively do to keep your metabolism asleep? to activate again and stimulate?

The solution to the "misery" corresponds to the recommendation that you may already know from our article on the topic of Cheat Day: Just one Diet break put in, eat a few days more than your body actually needs, and then your diet as part of one moderate calorie deficit resume. Your body needs the signal that there is enough energy, i.e. gasoline in the tank, to stop chugging along in fuel-saving mode. In order for your diet break to be successful, it should on the one hand last for several days and on the other rich in carbohydrates to be able to develop the greatest possible effect.

If you want to be absolutely sure about your hormonal balance, there is a simple one Blood test for example available through his family doctor.
Important: A reliable result can only be obtained by analyzing the thyroid parameters T.3, T4 as well as TSH possible. Unfortunately, often only one value is examined, mostly TSH, which, among other things, falls far too short with regard to the study findings cited above and has little informative value! With this approach, the most meaningful data result from a combined consideration of all three measured values.


  • Weigh under the same conditions regularly during a diet
  • When standing still on the scales, check whether there are any further symptoms (see above)
  • Take a diet break of several days and eat low-carb foods
  • Resume the diet and choose a moderate calorie deficit (max. 300-500kcal deficit / day)
  • If necessary, have the thyroid examined by a doctor

[1] "EFFECT OF CALORIC RESTRICTION AND DIETARY COMPOSITION ON SERUM T3 AND REVERSE T3 IN MAN". SW Spaulding et al. The journal of clinical endocrinology & metabolism, 1976.
[2] "Effect of Long-term Calorie Restriction with Adequate Protein and Micronutrients on Thyroid Hormones". L Fontana et al. The endocrine society, 2006.
[3] "Effect of dietary composition on fasting-induced changes in serum thyroid hormones and thyrotropin". F Azizi. Metabolism, 1978.
[4] "The effect of varying carbohydrate content of a very-low-caloric diet on resting metabolic rate and thyroid hormones". RA Mathieson et al. Metabolism, 1986.

Image source: istolethetv (Attribution 2.0), bark (Attribution 2.0), AngryJulieMonday (Attribution 2.0)

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