If you are over age 40 and eating as you did in your 20s, it may not be a surprise if you find you’re gaining weight. After age 25, a person’s metabolism naturally slows by 5 percent every decade.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Your metabolism rate determines how fast you burn calories, influencing how fast you lose weight as well as how easily you can gain weight.
“Metabolism slowing down is only one factor that contributes to weight gain after 40,” says Francesca Marangell, DO, a Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group primary care physician. “Men and women also deal with the loss of muscle mass that naturally comes with aging. Additionally, for women, they are experiencing hormonal changes that come with perimenopause and menopause, and many find they gain ‘belly fat.’”
The good news is these seven strategies can help you increase your metabolism to try to ward off those extra pounds.
- Exercise and weight train. Now is not the time of life to become sedentary. Maintain regular exercise and incorporate strength training into your routine to help maintain and build muscle mass.
- Eat at the same time every day. Eating well-spaced meals at the same times lets your body know to expect fuel at regular intervals and prevents it from conserving calories and adding to fat stores.
- Be smart about cutting calories. Did you know that reducing your calorie intake to starvation levels also slows down metabolism? So instead of speeding up weight loss, starvation ultimately slows it.
- Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of H2O daily. Surprisingly, dehydration can lead to a 2 percent drop in the number of calories burned. Maintain your water intake throughout the day and drink even more than the recommended eight glasses of water when you sweat a lot.
- Limit drinking alcohol. The empty calories that alcohol provides don’t aid in weight loss. Also, processing alcohol diverts the liver from burning fat.
- Increase calcium intake. Calcium is a mineral involved in fat metabolism, and dairy products also deliver whey and casein, which are proteins that help build and preserve muscle.
- Sleep more. Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night can help keep the hormones that regulate hunger and fullness in check. Otherwise, you may crave sugary, fatty and starchy foods. Also, if you lack sleep regularly, your body may not burn calories efficiently.
Keeping your weight under control isn’t just important for fitting into your beloved jeans; it’s also important in keeping your risk of developing diseases down.
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*Source: Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org
*Source: American Council on Exercise, acefitness.org