Boost Your Metabolism

Our metabolisms slow as we get older. Not creaking-to-a-halt slow, but enough that you’ll notice a difference in your tailored pants. Here's how to mitigate the effects.

By Megan Deem
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Why Does Our Metabolism Change as We Age?

 “We naturally lose muscle mass over time, which impacts metabolism because lean body mass burns calories at rest,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, a registered dietician in New York City and creator of the F-Factor diet. “This is why woman who maintain the same eating habits they had when they were younger tend to gain weight with age.” And it’s not just the conversion of muscle into fat that reduces your calorie burning. Hormones also play a role. A study in Science Daily  reported that as we get older, hormones that control our appetite degenerate, which may cause us to feel hungrier and eat more, thus leading to a weight increase. Plus, stress and lack of sleep can also throw off your hormones and increase your appetite. 

How You Can Increase Your Metabolism

So basically, as you age, you can expect to feel ravenous 24/7, and every morsel of food that passes your lips is going to take up permanent residence somewhere on your person, right? Well, not exactly. 

Eat a Diet of High-Quality Foods

The good news is you don’t necessarily have to consume less  as you age, you just need to pay attention to what  it is that you’re putting in your mouth. “I don’t care if you’re eating a thousand calories of cake versus 2,000 calories of lean protein and vegetables, the lean protein and vegetables will always be the better option,” says Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, a registered dietician in New York City. “Number one is always the quality of your food; number two is the quantity.” 

Incorporate Strength Training into Your Exercise Routine

To keep that all-important muscle mass at a high, Alpert recommends strength training regularly, and fueling your body with high-quality protein, such as grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken. Doing so will build and maintain the muscle you’re working so hard to hang onto. 

Avoid foods with added sugar

When it comes to snacks, steer clear of anything that comes in a box or a bag. Instead, Alpert likes no-sugar-added Greek yogurt or an apple and almonds. As you’re probably aware, refined sugar is the white devil and should be avoided at all costs. “Sugar ages your face, puts weight on your waist and strains your heart,” says Alpert, who suggests Sweet Defeat mints to kill sugar cravings if you’re the type who can’t imagine a meal that doesn’t end with dessert. 

Eat high fiber foods

Another trick for battling the middle-age spread is to fill up on fiber, in addition to protein. Zuckerbrot swears by the power of fiber (specifically, 35g of it a day), both to quell hunger pangs and to rev up the metabolism. (Find fiber in everything from cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, to GG crackers, which Zuckerbrot recommends as a replacement for bread.) “Fiber also absorbs and removes fat and calories and decreases inflammation in the body,” she says.

Consider intermittent fasting

Lastly, for those who enjoy the torture of not eating, one diet plan that’s gotten a lot of buzz is fasting. But according to Alpert, you don’t need to go days on end without food in order to see a benefit. “Research shows that a 12- to 14-hour break between dinner and the next morning’s breakfast can have a lot of the same benefits of harder intermittent fasting without a lot of the negative parts, like the starvation element,” she says. “If you have dinner at 6 pm and hold off on breakfast until 8 am the next day, that’s a 14-hour window that can really help with metabolic boost.”

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