According to the American Council on Exercise, after age 20, your metabolism slows so every decade your body burns 150 fewer calories a day. Add that to the list of the joys of growing older. Your metabolism, or your basal metabolic rate (BMR), is the average number of calories your body burns per day. While you can’t change your gender, your age or your genetic makeup, there are a variety of ways to raise metabolism for people over 50.
As we age, it’s normal for our metabolism to slow. Why? Reduced physical activity and the related reduction in muscle mass means that our bodies just don’t burn as many calories – and this frequently means weight gain. The good news is that you don’t have to accept this weight gain. At 50 and older, exercise may be the best way to increase your BMR, but you can also increase your BMR with proper nutrition and a metabolism-raising eating pattern. Consult your doctor to discuss healthy ways you can increase your metabolism.
Over 50? Build Muscle
Since the loss of muscle mass is perhaps the biggest factor contributing to slowing metabolism, it’s clear that adding strength-training exercises that build muscle is one of the best things people over 50 can do to increase their metabolism. A 2015 clinical study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that strength-training three days a week helped raise metabolism for people over 50, and also improve their strength and body composition.
Strength training can happen at the gym or at home, and include lifting weights, using resistance bands and/or doing body-resistance exercises. You increase your strength most effectively when train such that you need help finishing your last rep. A good weight-training program should include strength-training activities that work all your major muscle groups, and where each exercise includes two to three sets with eight to 12 repetitions per set.
If you are new to strength training, consult your doctor, and start light. Starting with weights that are too heavy can cause injury. Additionally, lifting too much too early results in sore muscles. Many people simply won’t go back.
Regular Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a good way for people over 50 to boost their metabolism. Studies show that HIIT workouts involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity movements for a specific period of time.
For example, alternate between running for two minutes and walking for two minutes for a full 30 minutes. HIIT workouts not only burn more calories than other exercises, but also create what’s referred to as the “after burn effect” where your body burns more calories for several hours after the workout, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM recommends adjusting your HIIT workouts to your fitness level to reduce complications and risk of injury.
Because HIIT is very strenuous, you should talk to your doctor before starting a HIIT program. Unless your la life long athlete, it’s probably best to start your HIIT workouts not more than once per week to enable your body to recover fully between workouts. As with everything, ease into it.
Regular Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises like bicycling, jogging, or swimming also increase your metabolism. Research shows that about five sessions of moderate cardio per week, each lasting between 20 and 45 minutes, (the Centers for Disease Control says older adults should aim to get 150 to 300 minutes weekly) not only burns calories while working out, but also causes your metabolic rate to stay elevated. That means that even on days you don’t exercise, your still burning over a 100 calories per day even on the days you don’t exercise. Don’t you love the after burn effect?
Burn Calories Being Active
Adopting a lifestyle of fitness includes looking for ways to be more active during the day. Little things like parking your car far from the store, using the stairs instead of the elevator, using the restroom upstairs instead of on the same floor, work using a standing desk all increase the calories you burn every day.
Get an indoor bicycle or treadmill, and use them while watching TV, or get some dumbbells and exercise with them during commercials. Get creative! Look for opportunities to get up and active.
At Work and Play
I’m not sure anyone really likes housework, but it does offer an opportunity to get in more activity. Mopping the floor, vacuuming, gardening, and other household chores all help raise metabolism for people over 50.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep has a significant impact on your metabolism. A study from the University of Chicago showed that people who got four hours of sleep or less a night had more difficulty processing carbohydrates. The lack of sleep reduces your body’s ability to perform normal day-to-day functions, which include burning calories, slowing your metabolism.
Remember that while exercise is important, don’t exercise within 3-4 hours of bed time, as doing so can prevent sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, a hot shower or soaking in a hot bath can make it easier to fall asleep.
Limit How Much You Sit
It’s well understood that sitting too much is bad for our health. One report shows that prolonged sedentary time is associated with harmful health outcomes, and many other studies have show extended sitting can lead to weight gain. Limit your time sitting at your desk or in front of the TV. Another report shows that using a standing desk at work can increase your metabolism and help with weight management.
Eating breakfast starts your metabolism working, and so it’s essential that you eat breakfast daily. Numerous studies show that weight loss and low body fat The best way to start the day and rev up your metabolism is to “break the fast” by eating a healthy breakfast. Your best bet is a wholesome breakfast that includes a fiber-rich whole grain, lean protein and fruit.
Be Careful With Calories
Even when you’re regularly working out to boost your metabolism, you still need to watch your calories. As we grow older, the number of calories we require reduces. Women over 50 who are active need 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day to maintain their weight, while active men over 50 need 2,400 to 2,800 calories.
If you’re active as this, obviously you need fewer calories. Choose fresh, whole foods, mostly vegetables and fruits, along with lean protein and dairy, as a strategy to keep you calories in check, and maintain your increased metabolism.
Switch to Heart Healthy Fats
Substantial evidence indicates that diets using nonhydrogenated unsaturated fats such as olive oil as your main form of dietary fat lowers your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and increases your metabolism. The simple rule of thumb is to choose fats that are liquids at room temperature.
To further lower your risk of CHD, chose whole grains as your main form of carbohydrates, eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and incorporate foods or supplements with omega-3 fatty acids. Such diets, along with regular physical activity, avoidance of smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight, may prevent the majority of cardiovascular disease.
Spice it Up!
Some studies suggest that hot peppers (such as cayenne pepper and chili pepper) and other spicy foods can increase your metabolism after you eat by as much as 20% for up to 30 minutes. Research shows that spicy foods accomplish this jolt in metabolism by increasing body temperature, creating a higher calorie burn.
Other spices such as such as cumin, turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper also raise metabolism, and also increase metabolism, and have numerous other health benefits.
Drinking alcohol reduces fat burning by as much as 73%. That should make you think about whether you’ll have that drink with dinner. Why does alcohol do this? To put it simply, our bodies convert alcohol to easily accessible energy, so alcohol is burned of first, so the calories from food wind up getting stored as fat.
If you insist on having a drink, red wine is preferable, as it contains only 80 calories per glass, and studies show that moderate red wine consumption reduces cardiovascular mortality and the incidence of diabetes. Other studies show that the polyphenols in red wine, especially resveratrol, may act to protect our brains from decline.
Lean Protein With Every Meal
All calories are not created equal. This should be obvious. Some foods require more calories to metabolize than others. Of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat), protein requires the most calories to metabolize, or has the highest thermic effect. It takes about 25% of the calories in proteins to digest them, which helps raise metabolism for people over 50. Compare that to carbohydrates, which require only about 8% of their calories to digest, or fat, which requires only 3% of calories to digests.
What does that mean? Including lean protein with every meal increases the amount of calories burned during digestion.
Increasing your protein intake also increases your metabolism. The best sources of protein include lean meats, skinless poultry, egg whites, seafood, low-fat dairy foods, quinoa, seitan, soy products, legumes, seeds and nuts.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that caffeine speeds up metabolism by as much as 10%. What’s interesting is that it also promotes the release of fat into your bloodstream for use as fuel, delays fatigue by preserving glycogen.
Load Up on H20
Studies show that drinking water boosts your bodies ability to burn fat. Drinking 50 ounces per day results in 50 more calories burned per day.
Research shows that 10 minutes after drinking 16 ounces of water, people’s metabolisms increased 30 percent. An additional trick is to drink ice cold water. Why? Your body has to burn a few more calories to heat the cold water to your core temperature, according to Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center.
Drink Green Tea
Green Tea may be one of the healthiest things you can drink. An article in the Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine states that the “health benefits of green tea for a wide variety of implications, including different types of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, etc. There is also a wide range of uses for green tea in diabetes, exercise enhancement, inflammatory bowel disease, skin disorders, hair loss, weight loss and iron overload.” Pretty impressive!
Research shows that the caffeine and catechins in green tea increases your metabolic function by 4-5 percent and improves fat oxidation by 10-16 percent.
Green tea also possesses strong antioxidant properties that fight free radicals in your body, providing anti-aging support, and reducing the risk of disease.”
Load Up on Fish
Studies also show that Omega-3 fish fat boosts metabolism, by increasing the activation of fat-burning enzymes. Aim for at least two fatty fish meals per week: wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and trout are all high in omegas.
Fish oil supplements and regular exercise both reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular and metabolic health. When combined, the effect increases, according to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The report studied the effect of taking 6 grams of fish oil daily and working out 3 times a week.
12 weeks after into the study, those taking the fish oil supplement lost an average of 3.4 pounds, while those didn’t take fish oil didn’t lose weight. The study shows that taking fish oil supplements 2 hours before working out produces the best results.
Remember, it’s your regular diet and exercise habits that affect your metabolic rate. It’s what you do most of the time that counts.
The Myth of Nibbling
You may have heard that changing your meal patter from 3 meals per day to 6 or 7 small meals throughout the day boosts your metabolism. However, a study published in the American Society for Nutrition shows that eating frequency has little to no effect on weight reduction or increased metabolis. The best results come from following a balanced nutritional plan, consisting primarily of fresh, whole foods, including lean protein, whole-grains, vegetables and fruit.
Get Your Calcium
Consuming milk, yogurt, and cheese regularly increases your metabolism, and research shows that dairy consumption may also have beneficial effects on metabolic health and can reduce risk of metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Instead of ditching carbs or going low-fat, try a diet that’s rich in veggies, beans, and legumes to increase your metabolism — and keep your blood sugar from spiking. “Many people think weight is all about calories in, calories out, but quality also matters,” says Aunna Pourang, M.D. “[In a 2012 study], low-carb diets showed the most increase in metabolism, but also showed an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. This is why scientists concluded that the low-glycemic diet worked the best.”
Buying organic is definitely worth it. Included in the list of benefits, organic foods contain more minerals and antioxidants, organic cow and chicken meat and organic cow’s milk contain more omega-3, the vast majority (94–100 %) of organic food has no synthetic pesticides, and organic vegetables contain significantly less nitrates.
The lack of pesticides is particularly significant, as pesticides are stored in fat cells, and block fat metabolism.
So here’s a list of ways to increase your metabolism. Please feel free to give feedback or offer additional ways to increase your metabolism by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.