We’ve all heard and said the same thing. “I’m getting old, my metabolism has slowed down!” And yes, as we age, our bodies naturally undergo changes that can slow down our metabolism. This metabolic slowdown CAN (if we let it) lead to weight gain and decreased energy levels, especially after the age of 40. But don’t despair, aging doesn’t mean that a sluggish metabolism is inevitable. There are plenty of strategies that both women and men can take advantage of to give your metabolism a boost, with exercise and nutrition being two of the most effective!
Metabolism, what is it? Metabolism is the sum of all the chemical processes that happen in our body, to maintain daily function and life. In short, it’s the amount of energy expended for you to go about your activities of daily living or your total daily energy expenditure. Believe it or not, it takes energy (calories) to do EVERYTHING our bodies need to do, like….breath, digest food, move food throughout our system, chew gum, write with a pencil and yes, exercise. Everything takes energy! It’s also needed to efficiently burn fat! I’ll be writing another article shortly JUST on metabolism, so hang tight for that! So, how do we INCREASE metabolism? Check out these tips below.
Exercise: The Metabolic Enhancer
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to increase your metabolism. When you engage in physical activity, your body burns calories to provide the energy required for movement. But the benefits don’t stop there. Exercise, especially strength training, can increase your lean muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be, burning more calories even when you’re not exercising.
Strength training is particularly beneficial for boosting metabolism. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, something called sarcopenia, which can slow down our metabolism. However, by engaging in regular strength training, you can counteract this muscle loss. Aim to incorporate strength training exercises into your routine two to three times a week. Focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups, utilizing compound movements (multi-joint).
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. This type of training is highly effective at boosting metabolism. It can help you burn more calories during and after your workout, thanks to a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or the “afterburn effect.” I actually used to teach a class called “Afterburn” some time ago at the old studio, some may remember! Maybe I’ll bring it back…..hmmmmmmm…….
Nutrition: Fueling Your Metabolism
In addition to exercise, nutrition plays a critical role in your metabolism. Consuming certain foods and drinks can help increase your metabolic rate.
Protein-rich foods are great for boosting your metabolism. Your body uses energy to digest protein, fats and carbohydrates; a phenomenon known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, protein is a little harder for the body to break down, so, it has to expend more energy to break it down….see what I’m gettin at here? Incorporate lean protein sources, like fish, chicken, tofu, and lentils, into your meals. I sent out a short blurb on protein a few weeks ago, so if you want a little more information on all the amazing things protein does, refer there or ask me directly!
Staying hydrated is essential for a healthy metabolism. Water is necessary for the metabolic processes in your body. Even mild dehydration can slow down these processes. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. You can also increase your water intake by eating fruits and vegetables with high water content.
Green tea has been shown to increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation. Plus, it’s a great source of antioxidants. Try swapping your afternoon coffee for a cup of green tea for a metabolic boost.
NEAT! I save the best for last. NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenics is the biggest factor when it comes to metabolism (aside from your Basal). Just moving your body more throughout the day, more than you are right now. Let me lay this scenario out for you and some of you may relate.
You go to the gym 3-4 days a week and you are CRUSHING it when you’re there. I mean, you work really, really, hard for each hour you exercise. Yet, you’re not seeing the changes that you thought you would, the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like. Well, how much are you moving throughout the day? What are you eating, how much water are you drinking…are you really doing what’s needed to be done for you to see change? The reality is, it doesn’t happen during those 3 hours in the gym, it happens during the other 165 hours of the week.
Listen, aging doesn’t mean you have to accept a slow metabolism, I won’t. With the right combination of regular movement, structured and purposeful exercise, balanced eating habits and adequate recovery, you can boost your metabolism and maintain a healthy weight forever. It’s never too late to start implementing these strategies. Remember,, small but consistent changes can lead to significant results over time #YESYOUCAN.
If you need more direction or have questions, I’m always here to help!