8 Healthy Ways to Boost Metabolism Over 40
nce up on a time there was a sprightly wee girl. She wasn’t a princess or imbued with extraordinary powers, but she did possess the magical ability of being able to consume whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and not gain weight. She would binge on pizza and wine, knock back burgers and devour tubs of ice cream and miraculously wake up the next day just as skinny, and energetic, as when she went to bed. So, she travelled the world stuffing delectable treats in her somewhat copious gob without fear of consequence.
Until one day, around her fortieth birthday, something changed. It seemed like she only needed to glance in the general direction of food, and she’d gain a kilo. Had she been cursed?
Not exactly. You see, our fairy-tale foodie hero was me, just an ordinary girl with a healthy metabolism. But, as metabolisms are wont to do, mine started to decrease almost linearly with my age, escalating at warp speed after I hit my 40s. All of which is, biologically speaking, perfectly normal. Metabolism is essentially a series of cellular chemical processes that convert the calories we eat into the energy we need to keep our bodies thriving. However, as we age, thyroid levels, the body’s main metabolic rate regulator, decrease, as do the hormones that maintain muscle mass, reducing the amount of energy we burn while we’re doing nothing, irrespective of what we eat or how we exercise.
Normal or not, it’s a pain in our increasingly larger rears, because this slowdown in our metabolic rate increases the likelihood of weight gain, particularly in the visceral fat that wraps around the abdominal organs, which in turn leads to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
Sadly, our metabolism isn’t something we can change by simply downing a cup of tea or running an extra few kilometre… but there are a few things we can do to give it a helping hand.
1. Boost Metabolism with Muscle Power
More muscle means a higher resting metabolic rate, as muscle burns more energy than fat. Adding weight training to your exercise program can lead to a significant increase to your resting metabolism.
2. HIIT Your Metabolism into Overdrive
Just a few minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide a big boost to metabolic rates as the body has to work hard during both the exercise and recovery phase.
4. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration will slow your metabolism down. Studies have found drinking even 500 ml of water can increase metabolic rate by 30 per cent, so drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated throughout the day.
5. Avoid Crash Diets
Crash diets not only deprive your body of essential nutrients, but research into metabolic adaptation indicates that rapid weight loss can slow your metabolic rate, making it harder to shed kilos and leading to people regaining the weight they lose through diet and exercise and more.
6. Eat Small and Often
Eating more frequently is an effective tool in revving up metabolism. Your metabolism slows in the space between large meals, whereas enjoying smaller meals every three to four hours assists in keeping metabolism firing all day.
7. Pack Your Diet with Protein
Studies suggest that a high-protein diet may exert beneficial effects on metabolism. Not only does the body burn more energy digesting protein than it does fat or carbohydrates, healthy proteins (lean meat, poultry, fish, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy) build lean muscle, which helps burn energy and increase metabolic rate.
8. Spice Up Your Life
It may only offer a temporary hit, but spicy foods contain natural chemicals that can increase your heart rate and produce significant effects on metabolic rates, so toss a little chilli pepper, cayenne, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and mustard into more of your meals.