How To Increase Your Metabolism After 50

Expert Advice, Food, Nutrition

By: // April 15, 2021


If you’re over 50 and wondering how to speed up your metabolism, you’re in the right place. Your metabolism slows as you age – it’s not your imagination. It’s probably very frustrating too. After all, you eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise, so why aren’t the results showing on the scale?

Increase metabolism after 50? Is it even possible? Absolutely! As a certified personal trainer, I’m going to walk you through how to increase your metabolism, even if you’re in perimenopause or menopause and your metabolic rate has hit a major speed bump.

Sluggish metabolism isn’t set in stone. Women over 50 often find they can boost their metabolism with simple changes to their body composition, sleep habits, hormone levels, eating frequency, or daily activity levels.

In this article, we’ll show you how to increase your metabolism after 50 in five simple steps; but first, let’s take a look at how your metabolism works in the first place.

How Does My Metabolism Work?

Understanding how your metabolism works and how it changes over 50 is the first step to changing it. Your metabolism isn’t a switch or a dial that can be adjusted with any single lifestyle change. Instead, it’s a series of complex processes that happen inside your body to turn food into energy so your cells can function properly.

A person with a “fast” metabolism needs more energy and therefore burns more calories at rest and throughout the day. Someone with a “slow” metabolism burns fewer calories at rest and during the day. Because your metabolism isn’t one process but rather a series of interconnected processes, there are many different reasons that your metabolism might be “fast” or “slow.”

Age, gender, body size (height and bone structure), and family history can influence your metabolism, but these are things you can’t change. Fortunately, there are things you can change to boost your metabolism over 50 and reach your goal weight.

How To Boost Your Metabolism After 50

So how do you turn up the heat on your metabolism to burn more calories? Here are five steps you can use to increase your metabolism and get your calorie-burning machine working more efficiently.

1. Build Muscle Mass

photo of weights and jump ropes

Strength training equipment

If you’re shedding pounds without putting on any lean muscle mass, you might be doing your metabolism more harm than good. Why?

Believe it or not, weight loss causes your metabolism to slow down.

Studies have shown that people who gain and then lose weight burn fewer calories than people who never put on weight in the first place.

Your goal should be to gain muscle as you slim down. Gaining muscle as you age is incredibly important. Studies show that as early as age 30, women start to lose their muscle mass.

By improving your body composition by adding muscle mass, you can boost your metabolism over 50 and beyond. Weight training builds strong curves and muscles, and those muscles directly fuel a higher metabolic rate and the number of calories you burn in a day.

Remember: muscle uses more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat. 

Try to do strength training workouts at least 2-3 times per week to beef up your muscle mass. Then be sure to eat plenty of lean protein at mealtime to help build and maintain strong muscles.

Also, avoid yo-yo dieting and quick weight loss programs that cause your weight to bounce up and down. The damage it does to your metabolism isn’t worth it.

2. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently

Woman sitting on floor with banana and juice

Small meals can help boost your metabolism over 50

Not eating often enough can cause your metabolism to slow down slightly. Some experts call the condition “starvation mode.” But this is a tricky metabolic problem to fix because researchers also know that increased eating episodes can cause you to eat too many calories during the day.

So how do you find the right balance for an increased metabolism? Eat often enough to avoid getting overly hungry and binge eating.

Many find that eating small meals every 2-3 hours is helpful. But measure your food portions to make sure that you’re not eating too much. If you are trying to lose weight, make sure you reach a calorie deficit every day regardless of the number of times you eat.

3. Move Your Body More with NEAT

Sure, you work out, but what do you do during the hours you’re not at the gym? You need to boost your NEAT to banish body fat!

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is a fancy word that scientists use to describe the calories you burn during your non-workout hours. NEAT plays a big role in your metabolism. In fact, scientists say that it can be responsible for up to 30% of your total daily calorie burn.

When you boost your NEAT, you can speed up your metabolism by up to one-third! That adds up to a major number of calories at the end of the week.

So how do you do that? Banish sedentary behavior from your day. Reduce the number of hours you watch television, sit on your computer or even sit at your desk.

A good way to go about this is to target 1-2 sedentary behaviors each week and replace them with active habits.

Tips to increase your NEAT and lose weight doing everyday activities

  • Walk while you chat on the phone.
  • Fold laundry while you watch the morning news.
  • Stretch while you sit at your desk.
  • Even fidgeting burns more calories than sitting still!

Fire up your Fitness Tracker or Apple Watch

Invest in a fitness tracker!

Brands like Fitbit provide users with a dashboard that allows you to see when your lazy hours are likely to occur. Study the patterns for a few weeks and then put a plan in place to move more during those targeted hours.

I love my Apple Watch. It shows me how much movement I get daily and keeps me aware of my NEAT!

4. Get Good Sleep

It’s no secret that getting a solid 8 hours of sleep sets you up for success during the day. You’re more alert, energized, and ready to make healthy choices.

You might imagine that getting less sleep can make your metabolism more sluggish, and it might. But some researchers have found that you may burn up to 5 percent more calories when you struggle to stay awake after a poor night’s rest.

But here’s the problem: most of us overeat to make up for the energy dip. That’s because two key hormones, leptin and ghrelin, get thrown out of whack when you’re sleep-deprived.

woman sleeping in front of laptop with crumpled paper

These hunger hormones can make you crave salty or sweet food and be more prone to overeating to maintain steady energy.

That’s why it’s important to create a bedtime routine that encourages 7-8 hours of sleep most nights. Charge electronic devices away from your bed, avoid nighttime computer work, and try not to get into bed until it’s time to shut your eyes.

5. Regulate Your Hormones

Hormones can be a big contributor to a slow metabolic rate after 50. Perimenopause, menopause, and general midlife stress really wreak havoc on the hormone systems. Bodyweight seems to increase, especially belly fat, and so many women wonder – how can I increase my metabolism after menopause? Is it even possible?

The truth is

  • Hormone levels play a big role in your metabolism.
  • Thyroid hormones can change your metabolic rate.
  • Hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin can influence how much you eat during the day.
  • And the stress hormone cortisol can change where the excess calories are stored.

The best thing to do is to focus on the factors that you can control after 50. Make it a priority to learn how to balance your hormones. One of the best ways to do that?

Calm stress to reduce Cortisol

Focus on activities that promote calm and reduce cortisol to healthy levels. What makes you feel calm? Is it a restorative yoga class? Calmly watching your favorite show at the end of the day? A nighttime routine?

Invest in reducing your stress for the sake of hormone balance.

Meditation and Yoga for a Leptin Boost

Activities like meditation and mind-body classes have been shown to boost leptin which can help regulate hunger.

If meditation doesn’t seem like a fit, try a silent power walk to calm your mind and put you in a meditative state.

Hydrate 

While water may not be specifically a hormone fix, research shows water could speed up your metabolism. On the other hand, if you’re not properly hydrated, dehydration can slow your metabolism, not to mention make you have cravings, blood sugar spikes, and feel sluggish all around. Hydration is the secret to everything, so drink up!

Of course, hormones are a highly complex issue; we always recommend connecting with your doctor and asking for help testing and regulating your hormones if you feel your levels are off.

While your metabolism depends on many factors, there are five lifestyle changes you can make to increase metabolism, so you’re burning more calories—even at rest.

How to Lose Belly Weight After 50

photo of avocado on plate

One of the most frustrating parts of aging how metabolic rate declines and weight gain seems to go to all the wrong places – like the belly pooch.

Experts agree that the only way to reduce belly fat is an integrated approach encompassing both diet and exercise. These are some tips to fight for that flat belly after 50 – we know you can do it!

Focus on Fiber

Studies of people who incorporate more fiber into their diets have shown a significant decrease in body weight. When you incorporate fiber into your diet it’s also easier to feel more satisfied on fewer calories.

When you focus on whole foods like vegetables and fruits with most meals it’s easy to keep your fiber intake high.

Protein

Protein is an essential part of weight loss. When protein is in check your appetite is often reduced, metabolism is sped up and various hormones are changed to make weight management easier.

Lower calorie diets (moderate intake compared to excess or calorie restricted) with high nutrient density including protein are key to maintaining muscle while losing fat weight.

A higher muscle mass in post-menopausal women is correlated with a lower body fat percentage and protein intake.

Research recommends 25-30 grams of protein per meal for the benefits of metabolism and body composition.

Omega 3

Fish oil can reduce inflammation and cortisol, which in turn helps with fat metabolism and muscle gain.

On average adults over 50 are less successful at building lean muscle and lose weight more slowly because they are less likely to gain it in the first place.

Fish oil may be an option for those struggling with the inevitable weight gain that comes with age. A study showed taking 4 grams of fish oil daily alleviates resistance to adding muscle (not just weight, but increased muscle) as people get older.

In addition, Omega-3 supplementation boosted the body’s ability to store protein for muscle building. This is on top of a healthy diet and exercise regimen enabling longevity that will have you feeling that youthful glow again. See these other supplements we recommend for over 50.

Green Tea

Green tea is another metabolism booster for women over 50. Studies have shown that green tea may help reduce the risk of obesity and help in weight loss.

Brew a cup of green tea at home by steep for two to three minutes or buy from your local grocery store.

You may also want to try these natural ingredients: cinnamon, ginger, honey, lemon juice and cayenne pepper which is not only metabolism-boosting but can also curb appetite!

Some recent studies have shown that people who drink green tea on a daily basis have a lower risk of stroke. This is good news for people over 60 because strokes occur more often as age increases and are a leading cause of disability.

 

A slow metabolism can be caused by many things; learn what's slowing yours down here.

READ THIS NEXT: 11 Strength Training Moves for Women Over 50

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5 Comments


on May 21, 2021 at 9:09 AM Reply

This is very informative. I'm not over 50 yet but I will prepare for that day. This is very useful. I hope this desciplinary action will work for my mom.   #Colombian Women


on May 31, 2018 at 8:42 AM Reply

What are your thoughts on the latest craze of Intermittent Fasting? I did this for about 6 weeks and felt like I lost muscle. Now I’m just doing 12-13 hours and go 6:30 pm- 8:00 am. Something that feels more natural. I work out early am and do muscle training 5-6 days/week and HIIT 2x/ week. I also have low T3 thyroid. Have celiac gene. I eat low carb/higher fat also, no grains. Feel like I’m stuck a bit. Been wondering if I should go back to longer daily fasts if 16 hours and skipping breakfast. I just don’t want to lose the muscle. I’ve heard mixed reviews with IF especially with women. Any advice and thoughts would be great! Thanks so much!


on November 9, 2017 at 8:04 PM Reply

I'm a pear shaped teen who's been really struggling with weight loss. I want to lose weight fast but realistic fast, i did some research telling me how pear shapes aren't really supposed to lose weight or it's harder for them so i don't know what to really do.


    on November 10, 2017 at 9:46 AM Reply

    Hi Arriel - I have not heard anything about "pear shaped" individuals not being able to lose weight. Weight loss can be a long and difficult process but your shape is not the determining factor. We have several articles on our site about weight loss. Just type "weight loss" in the search bar and a lot of options will come up.


on March 21, 2017 at 3:24 AM Reply

Thank you very much for all the good information you gave me re Metabolism. I really appreciate it. For my age I am very active but I want to keep my figure as it is.



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