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Body

11 tips for boosting metabolism as you age

Can we really stop time when it comes to our metabolism?

Discover our healthy tips that could give yours a boost…

What is a metabolism? 

Our metabolism governs how our bodies convert calories into the energy needed to function. These everyday functions include breathing, repairing cells and digesting food. Gender, age, body size and genes can all play a role in the speed of your metabolism.

People with a high metabolism burn calories more quickly than others, which can help to maintain a healthy weight.

Why is my metabolism slowing down? 

There are several reasons why our metabolism slows down as we get older, but loss of muscle is a key one, because bodies with more muscle burn more calories. After the age of 30 it’s normal to lose up to 5% of your muscle per decade. But there are things you can do to halt that decline, and to improve your metabolic rate.

How can I boost my metabolism? 

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Eat protein-rich meals

Every time you eat your metabolism increases, as your body burns calories digesting food and absorbing the nutrients. Including lean protein, such as fish, lentils and eggs, in your meals can mean that you burn more calories because the protein’s component amino acids are harder for the body to break down than fat and carbohydrates. Protein also helps to build muscle and can make you feel full for longer.

2. Move more

Spending too much time sitting can slow your metabolism. Many people spend seven to 10 or more hours a day sitting down – at desks, in front of the TV and while travelling. But just leaving your seat for a minute or two every half an hour can make a difference, and research shows that an hour’s exercise daily can significantly counteract the negative effects of too much sitting.

3. Keep it cool

Take a water bottle with you wherever you go. Consuming plenty of fluids helps you feel full and drinking water can boost your metabolism, particularly when you’re trying to lose weight. A Thermos-style bottle will keep your water cold and make it more palatable. And opting for cold water may even force you to burn more calories, as energy is required to warm the water to your body temperature.

4. Get your heart pumping

The NHS recommends that adults aged 19-64 get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. This can include brisk walking, cycling, running and competitive sports. As well as burning calories, cardiovascular exercise will boost your metabolism. High-intensity exercise has a greater impact than moderate activity. Just 75 minutes of vigorous exercise has the same impact as 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

5. Use the stairs

Simple changes can help you fit more exercise into your lifestyle. Taking the stairs rather than the lift is a great example, as is riding a bike instead of driving a car.

6. Eat regular, modest meals

Leaving a long time between meals can slow down your metabolism. That’s one reason why you should never skip breakfast. Snacking may also help to control your appetite so you don’t overeat when it comes to your main meals. But do use careful judgement in your snacking choices and portion sizes. For some inspiration, why not try our healthy snack ideas.

7. Build up your muscle

Your resting metabolic rate (how many calories you burn even when you’re not active) is much higher if you have more muscle in your body. Strength training can seem intimidating, especially for women – but it doesn’t need to mean Lycra-clad iron-pumping in the gym. Press-ups and planks can be done at home once you’ve had guidance on your technique, and cans of food can be used in place of commercial weights. If lifting weights isn’t your thing, exercises like yoga or tai chi can also help to build muscle.

8. Get a good night’s sleep

Lack of sleep can affect your relationship with food as well as your metabolism. Research shows that people who are deprived of sleep feel less satisfied even after a hearty meal and find it harder to manage their weight. Researchers at the University of Chicago came up with the term ‘metabolic grogginess’ to describe how your body processes fat less efficiently when you’ve not had enough sleep. It’s wise to aim for at least seven hours every night.

9. Choose the right food

Research in 2017 indicated that people who ate wholegrain foods had a higher resting metabolic rate than those who ate equivalent refined grains. This in turn affected their likelihood of gaining or losing weight to the equivalent of a couple of small biscuits per day. Very spicy food can boost your metabolism, if you can handle it, and the combination of protein and calcium in dairy products can help boost muscle as long as the accompanying fat doesn’t cancel out the positive effects.

10. Careful caffeine consumption

Coffee can increase your resting metabolic rate, although its impact is less significant on older people and with those who are overweight. As with everything, moderation is sensible – too much coffee can affect your sleep patterns, which in turn may lead to less healthy choices and sluggish metabolism. 

11. Avoid crash diets

Crash dieting can lead to a classic case of a vicious cycle: your body breaks down muscle to use for energy it would otherwise be getting from food, but the lower your muscle mass, the slower your metabolism. After coming off the diet, you then put on weight in fat rather than muscle.