What Is a ‘Metabolism Reset’? Here’s How to Do One in 3 Simple Steps
A metabolic reset could be the solution for weight management, low energy...and even incessantly cold feet! A board-certified nutrition professional lays out the science for how one works.
Here’s what a “metabolism reset” means
Revolutionary 2021 research published in the journal Science challenged the conventional belief that middle age inevitably ushers in a slower metabolism. The study found that metabolism can slow with age, but really only does so after age 60—at a nominal rate of 0.7 % each year. Often, for an individual’s metabolism to slow down is related to lifestyle patterns—as life responsibilities increase, so does the consumption of quick meals, while physical activity takes a back seat to work and family responsibilities.
The great news, says Dan LeMoine, is that it’s possible to modify this. LeMoine is a nutrition consultant who’s board certified by American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA) and who explains: While our body’s baseline metabolic rate is largely dictated by our genetics, low energy and difficulty shedding pounds are often simply signs that it’s time to evolve a few behaviors.
So if you feel like your metabolism isn’t what it used to be, a metabolism reset may be what you need to restore your baseline “burn” (and the wide range of bodily processes it powers) back to functioning as efficiently as possible.
Is a metabolism reset possible?
“One of the things we often see in our clinic is folks coming and, to their credit, they’re trying to live a healthy life, eat well, work out,” LeMoine says. “And yet they’re still finding that things are just not working the way they used to—they have to work twice as hard to maintain weight, or just can’t lose weight.”
LeMoine says this struggle is the biggest sign that your metabolism isn’t operating as optimally as it could. While some individuals have endocrine or metabolic disorders that cause their metabolism to work slower, a few simple tips could help.
How to do a metabolism reset
LeMoine says that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to metabolic resets. Everyone’s body, lifestyle, and health history are entirely unique, “and I think that’s what gets lost in a lot of metabolic reset plans,” he says. “Calories in, calories out, everybody gets the same list of foods or workout plan.” Especially if you’re already doing your best to eat well and exercise, but you still seem to struggle with a slowed-down metabolism, it’s not news to say that this cookie-cutter approach can leave you feeling more frustrated than successful.
Instead, this nutrition pro suggests you think about a metabolic reset as addressing what specifically is interfering with your personal metabolism. It can take some trial and error to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Based on his experience working with people to reset individuals’ metabolism, LeMoine offers three steps you can test to bring yours back into balance and proper flow.
“This is the easiest place for most folks to start,” LeMoine says. “If your cells are not hydrated, shriveled up like raisins, your metabolism isn’t going to do what it’s designed to do—it doesn’t matter how well you eat or how hard you’re working out.”
Regarding hydration “quality,” LeMoine says, much of the water we drink actually lacks trace minerals and electrolytes that help hydrate your cells. (You can thank purification for that, even though it’s a wise routine practice.) “So it’s about making sure we are adding in some trace minerals or electrolytes, eating lots of mineral-rich vegetables,” he says. “What we see is that when cellular hydration goes up, so does metabolism.”
About half of Americans struggle with getting enough sleep, according to November 2022 research published in JAMA Network Open. Research, such as one 2019 study in the Journal of Lipid Research, has shown that even short-term sleep deprivation can impact your metabolism. (Potential health problems don’t stop there—here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep).
But, says LeMoine, “Magical things happen when we’re getting deep, restful sleep: Our bodies heal, they repair, our hormones start to balance, and when you’re rested, it influences better eating, more movement—everything just starts to snowball in a beautiful way.”
LeMoine says he often sees people respond to metabolism struggles and weight gain by severely restricting their diet. Decreasing your caloric intake might result in initial weight loss, but under-eating or crash dieting won’t keep the weight off—in fact, it actually slows your metabolism.
This is because your metabolic rate adapts to food restriction and weight loss in order to keep critical systems, like your heart and lungs, functioning.
And, one June 2022 study in the medical journal Obesity found that even just small dips in daily caloric intake can trigger your metabolism to slow. This metabolic adaptation—also known as metabolic damage—continues as long as your calorie deficit is too large. This also means you’re getting fewer nutrients than your body needs, which also prompts your metabolism to slow down, says LeMoine.
How long does it take to reset your metabolism?
Unsurprisingly, the time frame for a metabolic reset will vary from person to person. “We have some people who feel amazing right away, they start sleeping better, for instance, and everything falls into place,” LeMoine says. But it can take more time for others. “It really depends on what’s going on in the body causing things to be out of whack and if there are pre-existing conditions.” (And ultimately, if you’re making lifestyle changes and continue to struggle with signs of a slow metabolism, check with your doctor to see if you do have an underlying condition affecting metabolism, like an underactive thyroid.)
But a metabolic reset shouldn’t be a race to the finish line, he emphasizes. “There’s no downside to making these lifestyle changes [known to support your metabolism].” So a plan should really be geared toward how to make subtle lifestyle changes that are going to benefit you long-term. “Because it doesn’t make much sense to do one of these 30-day or 60-day metabolic reset plans if you’re just going to go back to eating poorly, getting crappy sleep, and staying under-hydrated.”
Dan Lemoine, a dual board-certified nutritionist and clinical director at Revitalize Weight Loss & Wellness in Arizona
Science: "Daily energy expenditure through the human life course"
JAMA Network Open: "Evaluation of Sleep Habits and Disturbances Among US Adults, 2017-2020"
Journal of Lipid Research: "Four nights of sleep restriction suppress the postprandial lipemic response and decrease satiety"
Obesity: "Metabolic adaptation after combined resistance and aerobic exercise training in older women"