I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard both men and women tell me that they can’t lose weight because they have a slow metabolism, or because they are over 40, or 50 and their metabolism has slowed down and they accept the fact that they won’t be able to lose weight. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Do things slow down as we get older? Sure they do. Does that mean you have to settle for being overweight or unfit? Absolutely not.
Your metabolic rate is the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. Three factors have a direct effect on your metabolism.
You have the most control over your activity level but your resting metabolic rate (RMR) which makes up to 60 -75% of your daily caloric needs, is effected in large part by your weight, percent body fat and amount of lean muscle mass you have. All of which are under YOUR control.
Thermogenesis has the smallest impact (only about 7% of your daily calories) and you can make this work to your advantage by manipulating how much you eat of each of the macronutrients, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Lastly your activity level accounts for about 25%-30% of your caloric needs. This includes not only your workouts, but also how much you move around through out the day. Being sedentary will have a huge negative impact on your metabolism as well as your overall health.
So we’ve got 2 different things going on here… first you need to put on muscle (and that’s your resistance training) so you’ll burn more calories through out the day, actually even while you sleep, and second increase your activity throughout the day and you’ll burn even more calories.
Below is a list of things can do and things you shouldn’t do to help boost your metabolism. Will it be the same as when you were in your 20’s? Not exactly, but you sure can kick it up a notch so that you can enjoy more than 1,200 calories a day and still lose weight.
Exercise in the morning
Jumpstart your metabolism by working out as soon as you wake up.
Workout throughout the day
Try 3 or 4 ten minute bouts of exercise instead of one long workout. This will help keep your metabolism elevated throughout the day
Muscle is your metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more you’ll burn throughout the day … and while you sleep! This is the most important thing you can do to maintain a high metabolism. This means working out with heavy weights and pushing yourself to muscle failure.
Eat smaller more frequent meals.
Your metabolism spikes each time you eat but be sure you are eating the right foods! Do not load up on high fat or processed foods
Eat protein through out the day.
Protein requires almost 25% more energy to digest than fat and helps you to maintain your hard earned muscle. Eat a portion of protein at all meals (that’s the thermogenesis I spoke of earlier)
Step up the intensity
Instead of low intensity longer workouts, increase the intensity and shorten the time. Not only will you have more time for everything else you need to do each day, you’ll burn a lot more calories during and after your workout.
Recharge with green tea
Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours. Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal for a short period of time
Go too low on your calorie intake.
This may cause a drop in weight initially but over the long haul will only sabotage your efforts, slowing your metabolism down to a crawl. Most of the weight lost in this manner will be mainly muscle and water.
Skimp on sleep time
Research shows that continued sleep deprivation causes weight gain. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night to aid your body’s metabolism in good working order.
You need water for every bodily function, including burning calories. Being dehydrated even a little will slow your metabolism. Strive for 8 or MORE glasses of water per day.
This will only cause your metabolism to slow down and signal your body to hold onto stored body fat.
Bottom line, your best bet for creating a mean calorie-burning machine is to build muscle and stay active. The more you move during the day, the more calories you burn. And remember: working out in the morning has the benefit of revving up your metabolism for hours.
Start following the above do's and limit the don'ts and you should start to see and feel a difference in no time. Of course you do also have to follow an effective training program as well as eat a healthy balanced diet focused on plant-based foods.
You can get support in all these area through my private Facebook community Weight Loss After 50
This is a free group that offers live broadcasts of exercise demos and nutrition talk, answer to all your health and fitness questions so you can put an end to the frustration of sifting through the conflicting information you find floating around the internet.
Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.