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What are the Health Effects of High Metabolism?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A high metabolism is often considered a blessing, but it can have many health effects aside from just making someone thin. Metabolism is the chemical process in the human body that converts food into energy. People with a high metabolism convert food much more quickly than the average individual, which can cause some health issues. They often need to eat larger quantities of food to maintain their weight, have difficulty gaining weight, and can suffer from blood sugar issues, irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating, and mood issues.

The higher a person’s metabolism is, the more calories he needs to maintain his weight. This often translates into eating more food than the average person. While eating more is not a health issues in and of itself, more often than not it means a person is eating less healthy foods than a person who has to limit his caloric intake. These unhealthy foods, often high in fat, can cause cardiovascular issues later in life as well as increase one’s risk for diabetes.

Those with a high metabolism often have issues maintaining or gaining weight. This is particularly difficult for women during pregnancy, because weight gain is essential to the health of both mom and baby. During pregnancy, a woman needs to supply not only herself with fuel but her baby. A woman with a higher than normal metabolism often needs to work closely with a healthcare professional to make sure she is consuming enough food for both her and her baby. While the phrase “eating for two” often does not apply to a woman with a normal metabolism, a woman with a high than average metabolism needs to keep this in mind.

This condition has a direct effect on blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar can lead to dizziness, irritability, irregular heartbeat and excessive sweating. When the body converts food to energy too quickly, this means there are more times during the day when a person’s blood sugar levels dip. Maintaining these levels is important for almost everyone, although those whose metabolism is fast often have more difficulty taking time out of the day to eat as often as they should.

While many of the health effects of a high metabolism can be countered by eating frequent meals, medical professionals also may prescribe medication to slow down metabolism. This condition can also lead to hyperthyroidism, a medical condition that causes the thyroid to produce too many hormones and push a metabolism even higher. While those with a high metabolism are often considered blessed with not having to watch what they eat, more often than not, they have to pay even more attention to their food intake than those with a normal metabolism.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1007005 — On Jun 02, 2022

After 30+ years I'm glad to finally have an answer for the idiopathic hypoglycemia I was diagnosed with and have dealt with since I was 8 years old. I can live with it, especially since I am able to not only eat whatever I want, I can lose a full inch from all my body measurements in just two days by eating less. Very good article, thank you!

By anon1001032 — On Feb 20, 2019

I was just wondering if a high metabolism would cause liver enzymes to go up, as well as triglyceride levels.

By anon993184 — On Oct 27, 2015

I'm reading a lot of similar conditions. I went through phases of these downsides and the best solution I reached was hydration. Hunger pangs, dizziness, nausea, shakes, sweats (at night as well); these symptoms were caused by decreased electrolyte levels: lack of sodium, potassium and water support. These components enable water to be retained because much is lost due to sweating, digestion, diuretics (caffeine, energy drinks), detoxing and other basic biological use, even more-so with exercise added.

By whatevergirl — On Mar 19, 2014

My friend has a fast metabolism and she doesn't have any of these problems, I guess that's what people mean when they say everyone's metabolism is different.

By Ant1991 — On Feb 07, 2014

I am 23 years old, 6' tall, and weigh 138 pounds. I have a high metabolism, A.D.H.D., and I have seen numerous doctors about high food intake and severe migraines due to these issues. I am becoming concerned that I am eating enough for a family of six per meal and still don't feel full. I am constantly hungry and if I try not to eat when I'm feeling hungry, I fall asleep or get sick.

I wish there was some way to get answers for my concerns, but my doctors can't find any answers. I have also been losing weight quicker and not gaining at all. I feel like I am wasting away and it's very scary.

By anon926652 — On Jan 20, 2014

I am 53 years young. I am short. 5'2. And I weigh 99 pounds, soaking wet. I have a lot of energy all the time. I cannot afford to work out and I can't get myself to lift weights. I do smoke. My appetite is bad. I always skip breakfast but I eat a good lunch and supper. We eat mostly Paleo. I recommend it for everyone. Everything I eat one day is gone the next. I would love to gain 20 pounds.

By anon347730 — On Sep 09, 2013

I have a fast metabolism and while people openly say to my face they are jealous, it is not a dream condition that people think it is. I feel like a slave to food a lot of the time, when I like to enjoy my food. I can't exercise longer than a 15-minute gentle walk three times a week maximum.

I am intolerant of gluten and dairy and have been aiming for low GI and sugar free. I started cutting out sugar because the lows/crashes were really bad (shakes, no energy).

I frequently have days where I am ravenously hungry and no matter what I eat, I feel like I haven't eaten anything for hours immediately after eating. I have recently had bloods that have shown I am very healthy (even though I am 50kg and 5'10" and 29 years old). If I skip one meal in a week, I will lose weight. I have always been this thin and my father is the same.

I am not complaining, however I want to put it out there that is is not a desired state to be in and I do not wish it on anyone.

By anon331573 — On Apr 23, 2013

Within the past year, I have dealt with anxiety and depression in a way I never had before. I had burnout from work, death of loved ones, an aging parent, divorce and other factors have contributed.

During that time, I also considered the fact that colder than usual temperatures and my very high 'resting' metabolism have been major factors. It's as though I've been eating enough to survive but have not had the nutritional and incidentally, social and emotional support to really *thrive*.

Regarding the cold temperatures, people probably don't consider how much eating and drinking is needed just to maintain homeostasis. I haven't exercised nearly as much as I have in the past; not because the energy is not there but more so because my will has waned off a bit. In addition to incrementally healing from past hurts, now that the summer is approaching, I'm gradually feeling better.

By anon324887 — On Mar 12, 2013

@comfyshoes: Having a high metabolism doesn't mean you have no weight problems; it's just the opposite kind of problem that your sister might have.

I have a high metabolism, and I'm fairly active. As a server, I spend all day on my feet, often running around and getting busy. I am constantly hungry, and, if I go too long, like more than two or three hours between meals, I get dizzy and nauseated, have headaches, and get super emotional because I feel so out of control. And then I have like, no energy at all. I end up eating junk just to feel full, because healthy snacks can be expensive.

Also, I can't do the exercises I enjoy, that make me feel really good afterwards, like piyo or pilates, because it makes me lose weight too fast, which results in - guess what? Stretch marks. It stinks, because it feels like there is zero support for a woman whose metabolism is too high. I can't complain about my weight like all my family and friends can about theirs, because it looks like I'm just bragging about being thin and getting to eat whatever I want.

Anyway, that was my rant for the day. Not being able to gain weight, no matter what you do, is not "no weight problem."

By bythewell — On Jan 18, 2013

@Fa5t3r - Yeah, personally I think people should eat for the nutrients rather than worry about metabolisms (unless they have a serious condition of course).

A lot of people who go on yo-yo diets end up damaging their metabolism by reducing muscle mass and training the body to hang on to fat. If you absolutely want to lose weight the best way to do it is to keep your metabolism high.

But, high or low, I personally think the best thing is to do what makes you feel good. For some people, they feel healthiest when they have a bit of weight on them, for others it's when they are thinner than the average.

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 17, 2013

If your weight doesn't seem to be responding in a normal way to your diet, it might be a good idea to get yourself checked out by an expert. Often people brush off stuff like this by saying "oh I have a high metabolism" but it might just as likely be a form of diabetes or a hormone disorder.

There's also the possibility that some people just don't really understand how to eat well. A lot of studies have showed that often people think they are cutting calories, but unless they actually count the calories they don't change at all.

By anon298376 — On Oct 19, 2012

Thinking it would be nice if indeed a person with a high metabolism also was thin. However, that is not the problem I am having.

I have a weight issue in that I cannot lose weight. That's right, lose. I am 5'3, weight 215 pounds and my body will not let go. And please spare me the diet and what I am eating because I have changed my diet. I'm eating like a rabbit five times a day with mostly fruits and vegetables, and that is not the answer. Though it seems I sweat constantly (morning noon night. The fan and AC on 70 still doesn't help) you would think I would have no problems at all losing weight.

It's enough to drive a crazy woman nuttier than fruit cake dipped in peanut butter.

By anon261405 — On Apr 16, 2012

Having a fast metabolism isn't all it's cracked up to be. Mine is extremely fast - I will eat a full meal and be hungry again within 30 minutes. It doesn't matter whether that meal consists of steak, chicken, vegetables or pasta; I'm starving in half an hour again.

There are definitely advantages to a fast metabolism in that I can eat whatever I want, but I am often extremely tired, I lack energy constantly, I consistently feel nauseous and dizzy and get the shakes. And most people also assume that I have anorexia as I don't gain weight.

I guess we all just have to learn to work with what we have as there's advantages and disadvantages to both types.

By anon254266 — On Mar 12, 2012

i have a high metabolism and wish I had a normal metabolism. I would be my normal weight of 180 but I'm only 130-140 and my weight fluctuates 10-20 pounds a week, even overnight.

By subway11 — On Apr 17, 2011

@GreenWeaver - I understand what you are saying and the fact is that most people will not be able to relate to what the people experiencing this condition feel because not only does a small percentage have this condition, but many people are secretly envious of people with the condition. Imagine that you could get to eat whatever you wanted and not gain an ounce.

I think that with the preoccupation with weight especially among women this condition may actually cause some women to enjoy food and not feel so guilty with what they ate. It would provide enormous freedom from the guilt that many women feel when they indulge in their favorite foods once in a while.

By GreenWeaver — On Apr 17, 2011

@Comfyshoes - I am sorry your sister went through that. I think that losing weight is hard enough and having a low thyroid like that must make you even more depressed because you feel so helpless.

I know that there people who are looking to learn how to gain weight with a high metabolism and they also have body image problems. They often feel overly thin and wished they had more curves or muscles. This can be especially true of a man that is suffering from this condition because we always expect men to have a bigger build and someone with this condition might be self conscious of their small stature.

If a woman has this condition then she may want to be curvier but there is still the stigma because women are supposed to be petite. So I do see the other side of the coin as well.

While it sounds like a dream condition, I am sure that others might wish for a normal metabolism.

By comfyshoes — On Apr 14, 2011

I understand that having too high of a metabolism is supposed to be bad for you but I think I would rather have a high metabolism with no weight problem than a low metabolism with a huge weight problem.

I think that there is nothing more frustrating than eating right and exercising but you can’t lose weight. This is what happened to my sister.

She was diagnosed with a hypothyroid and had an underperform metabolism. This low metabolism also made her lethargic and irritable. She was given medication and placed on a high metabolism diet in order to help her increase her metabolism and lose weight.

She had to cut out sugary and fatty foods which tended to slow down her metabolic rate. She had to exercise daily and eventually lost thirty pounds because of her diet and exercise as well as her medication.

She also had to increase her intake of protein which allowed her to stay fuller longer because it slowed down the absorption of food. He doctor told her that she should have some protein with every snack.

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