Our metabolism slows as we age, resulting in unwanted weight gain. Fortunately, there are strategies to rev it up and keep unwanted pounds at bay.
If you’re 40 or older, don’t be surprised to find that you can’t eat like you did when you were younger without packing on pounds. The reason? Your metabolic rate has slowed to a crawl, making gaining weight easy and losing it hard. Metabolic speed is determined by resting metabolic rate, exercise and non-exercise activity thermogenesis, and the thermic effect of food. The natural aging of this process, along with a lowered activity level and muscle loss, changes the way your body reacts to extra calories. Luckily, there are some natural ways to trick your metabolism into speeding up.
1. Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Going for long periods without food puts your body in starvation mode and slows your metabolic rate. Eat less more often; snack between meals. You may think you’d be getting a surplus of calories by doing so, but you’re less likely to overeat as a result. Nutritionists say that snacking boosts the metabolic rate by keeping blood sugar levels stable. In turn, this lowers your level of insulin, the fat-storing hormone, and encourages the release of glucagon, the fat-burning hormone.
2. Never Skip Breakfast
Studies show that eating breakfast within two hours of waking will help to burn calories throughout the day. Metabolic functions slow down while you’re sleeping. Speed them back up with a high-protein breakfast. Protein helps maintain muscle mass. The amino acids in it are harder for the digestive system to break down, resulting in the burning of more calories.
3. Pile On the Protein
Don’t stop at breakfast with the protein. Studies show that those who consume plenty of protein throughout the day have a higher resting metabolic rate. Post-menopausal women who don’t get enough protein tend to lose lean muscle. Don’t think this means just eating lots of meat. Get your protein by snacking on nuts between meals. Eggs, cottage cheese, Chia seeds, quinoa and all kinds of beans are good sources of protein for meals.
4. Drink More Water
Staying hydrated helps you feel full, decreasing the chance of overeating. Hydration is also essential for proper cell and body system functions. It helps regulate the digestive system, flushing out waste and toxins that cause bloating. What you may not know, though, is that some studies suggest that drinking plenty of water, especially cold water, can help the body burn more calories. Researchers call this a thermogenic effect.
5. Strength Training Boosts Metabolism
Cardio and high-intensity interval training are good for burning calories, but for middle-aged men and women, maintaining muscle mass is critical for weight loss. Weight lifting and resistance training help increase metabolism-revving muscle mass. In order to reap the benefits, you have to make sure you are fueling your body with protein for muscles and carbs for energy replacement.
6. Flavor With Spices
Some studies link spicy-hot foods to a boost in metabolic rate. One study shows that the capsaicin in chili peppers helped mice with a high-fat diet stay thin. For humans, this means that consuming five grams of chili peppers can boost metabolic rate up to 20 percent right away for about half an hour. Other studies suggest chili peppers curb your appetite.
7. Sip These Teas
Both Oolong and green teas contain substances called catechins, antioxidants shown to give a metabolic boost for up to two hours after consumption. Green tea also contains caffeine and plant compounds that increase your resting metabolic rate. One study involving middle-aged men found that drinking green tea three times a day increased their rate by at least four percent for a period of 24 hours.
8. Say No to Artificial Sweeteners
Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners to control weight has become commonplace. Don’t do it. Research shows that artificially sweetened beverages confuse the body’s normal response to sugar and actually increase your appetite. They are linked with weight gain, metabolic syndrome and other conditions. It’s better to satisfy your sweet tooth with 150 to 200 calories a day.