With every birthday, maybe you’re finding that food effects your body differently than it used to.
Those french fries at 25? No problem! That extra plate of spaghetti at 30? You can work it right off the next day! But now? Over 40? It might be harder to shed those extra pounds.
While you may have heard that the increase in your pant size is inevitable after 40 because your metabolism intrinsically slows down with age… this is actually not the case.
Studies show that the rate at which our metabolism slows down due to age is actually quite minimal. Our metabolic rate doesn’t start to decrease until our 60s, and even then the decrease is often less than 1% per year!
So that means…
The cold hard truth is that changes in our body are coming from our behaviour and lifestyle NOT a pre-wired metabolism change due to age.
BUT… that is great news because it means that healthy habits can go a long way to helping you have the body and health you want after 40.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the process the body uses to convert food into energy. Your body either uses this fuel right away or stores it in body tissues, like your liver, muscles or as body fat. Many factors influence metabolism including sex, age, thyroid levels, the ratio of muscle to fat and your emotional state.
Your body needs that energy to get through your day, so it’s important to think of food not in terms of “good” or “bad” foods. Rather, think of food as fuel. Which foods will get you farther and allow you to do all the things you want to do.
An empty tank won’t get you anywhere. A body in motion, stays in motion—same goes for your metabolism. If you cut down your calories to an extreme, your metabolism will start storing all your food causing increased body fat as it goes into emergency energy collecting mode.
Oh, it’s just hormones…
Many women will recognize that their hormones have an impact on how they look and feel. But you don’t want to use them as an excuse to let your health and wellness go by the wayside. Still, it’s true as you approach menopause, levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuate. This fluctuation in hormones causes a cascade of changes, from decreased bone density and lean muscle mass to lower sex drive and mood changes. However, there are things you can do to reduce the effects of these changes.
How do I kick start my metabolism?
Listen, there aren’t any specialized diets or magic pills that instantly will tell your body “Hey please lose the fat and speed up my metabolism.” We’re not here to promise some BS, quick solution that will appear on Dr.Oz next week. We’re here to tell you about some simple incremental steps that you can take TODAY that will help your body process food energy better, allowing you to go further with your day.
Get your fruit and veggies in
Fruits and veggies are nutrient-dense and provide you with important vitamins and minerals that your body uses as building blocks. Here are a few key fruits and vegetables that you can add to your next meal that you should find in most grocery stores:
Spinach – One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 56% of your daily vitamin A needs plus your entire daily vitamin K requirement — all for just 7 calories
Carrots – Carrots are packed with vitamin A, providing 428% of the daily recommended value in just one cup (128 grams)
Sweet Potato – One medium sweet potato contains 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese
Apples – rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, such as pectin, hemicellulose, and cellulose. These help you manage your blood sugar levels, promote good digestion, and support gut and heart health
Bananas – Along with providing 7% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, bananas contain 27% DV Vitamin B6, 12% Vitamin C and 8% of your Magnesium intake.
Feeling adventurous? Try Durian! – while this fruit is relatively unknown in the North American market, it has huge nutritional value. A single cup provides 9 grams of fiber, 23% DV of potassium, 34% manganese, 53% vitamin C, 45% vitamin B6 and 76% of vitamin B1. They are a little difficult to cut though…
Don’t skip breakfast
Remember when we said a body in motion stays in motion? Such is the case with your metabolism! Skipping breakfast (and other meals) will cause your body to start sorting the energy of your next meal as fat to protect you from starvation. If your mornings are rushed, first try a grab-and-go snack like smoothie — something to get your body going.
Add the protein
Focus on consuming whole foods that FUEL your day – instead of just counting calories. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean PROTEIN. Sure eating high sugar foods might give you short term energy, but the sugar spike will come crashing down. Try to add a source of protein to each meal and snack you have throughout the day such as eggs, greek yogurt, lean turkey/chicken, lean red meat, or tofu. You’ll find that you can go longer between meals and that your energy levels are more level throughout the day.
Read more: Superfoods for Super You!
Pay attention to stress
When you get stressed out, do you head right for the pantry for a bag of chip? If that sounds like you, you aren’t alone. Many of us emotionally eat. And that’s okay! But it is something to watch. When we are stressed out, our levels of cortisol are increased. Eating may increase our energy levels and hit that dopamine nerve in our brain that gets satisfied by sugary or salty foods and offsets the cortisol. But eating won’t actually fix your stresses—in fact, it may increase them as you start to pack on the pounds. So, when you find yourself reaching for that cellophane bag, take a pause. Ask yourself: What is really causing my stress? Is there something else that I can do that will relieve this stress that will affect me in a healthier way? Some alternative stress-relieving activities include:
- Strength training
Similar to stress, sleep can have a huge impact on your metabolism. Just like food, if you don’t get enough sleep, your body will go into survival mode—storing everything you consume into fat stores so you’ll be able to survive for longer without sleep or food. It’s a pretty vicious cycle. But you CAN stop it. Start tracking how many hours of sleep you get in a night. Instead of forcing yourself to catch hours of extra Z’s, start with small increments of time. Maybe tonight you head into bed 10 minutes early. Tomorrow another 10 minutes. Over time, your body will adjust to your new sleeping pattern and your body (and metabolism) will thank you.
Read more: You Snooze, You Win!
Lay off the sauce (reduce coffee, alcohol, and pop intake)
Coffee, tea, alcohol, and pop are all stimulants. The chemical makeup of their ingredients send certain signals to your brain to behave in certain ways. For coffee, tea, or pop, the caffeine jump starts your brain and increases the level of cortisol (the stress hormone)—causing you to feel more awake. While we totally understand if you can’t quit these things cold turkey, it’s time for a swap. Start with one of these drinks a day. Maybe instead of your second cup of coffee you have green tea instead. Maybe instead of pop you have some naturally flavored carbonated water. It’s all about the little swaps that will make all the difference with your health and metabolism.
Looking for more healthy swaps? Check out these 21 ingredient swaps for your next recipe!
Get moving & build muscle
Your best tool – MOVEMENT! Take every chance you get throughout the day to move more and get active.
Strength training should also be an important part of your routine as you age. A regular, steady increase of strength-building exercise that will teach your body to move the food energy from fat cells to muscle tissue. One of the variables of metabolic rate is your lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle you have and less fat, the higher your metabolism will be. This is because lean muscle takes up more energy than fat while at rest.
Think of your body as a vehicle for all the amazing things you do. The more you move it and give it good fuel, the farther/faster it goes. If you don’t move it at all, the whole system gets clogged, rusted, and will refuse to start. Just like you should continually provide your vehicle maintenance, your body deserves the same attention—maintenance through diet and exercise that is.
If you’re struggling to get your wheels in motion, reach out to us. We will help you find your reason to get going and help you fit these simple ways into your daily schedule to boost your metabolism.
We create customized strength-training programs that are designed for your needs, goals and personal fitness level. Whether that means it’s your first time exercising in years or you’re looking for a change in routine we can help! Our 6 Week Stronger For Longer program designed just for members 40+ is a perfect place to start.