Metabolism is the rate at which you burn fat and the calories you consume. When you’re young and active the calories burn away easily. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us what happens after that.
Jody Victor®: Well Steve, starting around the age of 25 your metabolism starts to slow down and your body begins to burn fewer calories. The typical American will lose between 20 and 40 percent of their metabolic power over the course of his/her adult life. Starting around the age of 40 your body requires fewer calories due partly to a slower lifestyle. To complicate matters you also experience an increasing amount of muscle loss due to the natural aging process. Genetics, physical inactivity, certain medications, and hormonal changes (especially menopause in women) also add to the slowing of your metabolism.
“A vastly slowed down metabolism isn’t inevitable”, says Dr. John Berardi, president of Precision Nutrition. If you maintain your physical activity levels as you age you will see only a 0.3 percent metabolic decline per decade, a 1 to 2 percent total drop over your lifetime. There are a number of ways you can make the most of your metabolism and fight nature’s aging processes.
DIET Maintain a healthy diet. As you reduce your calorie intake to avoid weight gain, make up the difference by eating more nutritious foods. Cut back on empty calories and choose nutrient-dense foods. Eat breakfast. Starting your day with a healthy meal gets your metabolism out of its resting state and into burning mode. When you skip breakfast it forces your body to endure a longer period of fasting, which leaves you excessively hungry and tempts you to overeat at your next meal. Keep your metabolism on a consistent slow burn by eating smaller more frequent meals. Instead of two or three large meals per day, eat 4 to 6 small meals every three to four hours. Here are some foods that will help boost your metabolism:
- LEAN MEATS and POULTRY Your body burns more calories when digesting proteins as opposed to carbs and fats.
- LOW-FAT/NO-FAT DAIRY Vitamin D found in fortified milk is essential for preserving metabolism-revving muscle tissue. According to study results, people on a reduced-calorie diet who included 3 to 4 servings of dairy foods lost significantly more weight than people who ate a low-dairy diet containing the same amount of calories. Low-fat yogurt is the best source of weight-loss-friendly dairy products. Yogurt contains calcium, protein, and a lot of other healthy nutrients.
- SOUP According to a study at Penn State University, soup is a great appetite suppressant because it consists of a hunger-satisfying combination of liquids and solids.
- GRAPEFRUIT One study found that the unique chemical properties of grapefruit reduce insulin levels, which promotes weight loss and boosts metabolism. Grapefruit is packed with Vitamin C as a bonus. Vitamin C boosts calcium absorption. Calcium boosts your metabolism.
- APPLES and PEARS These fruits are great low-calorie, high fiber snacks that satisfy your sugar cravings. Their healthy nutrients also keep you feeling full longer.
- BROCCOLI Study after study has linked calcium with weight loss. Broccoli is loaded with calcium and Vitamin C. It contains lots of Vitamin A, folate, and fiber. At just 20 calories per cup, broccoli not only fights fat but also contains powerful phytochemicals that boost your immunity and protect you from disease.
- OATMEAL Oatmeal ranks high on the good carb and high fiber lists. Oatmeal keeps you full and is the best choice for starting your day. Choose steel-cut or rolled oats, not instant, to get your full dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- HOT PEPPERS The chemical capsaicin found in hot peppers temporarily stimulates your body to release more stress hormones, which speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn more calories.
- WATERMELON Watermelon is loaded with the amino acid arginine. Arginine has been shown to enhance the oxidation of fat and glucose. Other arginine sources include seafood, nuts, and seeds.
DRINK – Every chemical reaction in your body, including your metabolism, depends on water. Staying hydrated helps keep you from mistaking thirst for hunger. When you are dehydrated, you burn up to 2 percent fewer calories. In one study, people who drank 8 to 12 glasses of water a day had higher metabolic rates than the people who had four glasses a day. In another study researchers found that people increased their metabolic rates by thirty percent after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water. Drinking green tea also boosts your metabolism and helps you lose weight while providing you with great antioxidants and plant-based nutrients. Always drink your tea unsweetened to avoid the empty calories.
EXERCISE – As your body ages and begins to experience slower metabolism rates it’s essential that you maintain a high activity level. In order to maintain a healthy weight you not only need to eat less you need to exercise more. Age-appropriate aerobic exercise and resistance training is recommended. Weight training is a great way to keep your metabolic furnace burning.
SLEEP – A necessary end to your day of eating less and exercising more to keep up your metabolism is to get a good night’s sleep. Many Americans are sleep-deprived. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to unhealthy eating habits.
All the Best!