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?
Don’t worry; we’re going to walk you through how to increase your metabolism, even if you’re in midlife 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 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 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
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.
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
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 ads 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:
- 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
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.
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 metabolism, especially 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.
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.
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