There’s beauty in ageingâ€”stronger relationships, more enjoyable work, less stress. But waning metabolism and what that leads toâ€”weaker bones, sagging muscles, low energy, and slower calorie burnâ€”isn’t so pleasant. Unfortunately, studies show our metabolic rate declines 2% every decade, beginning in our 30s; that means your body is converting more calories to fat with every passing year. You can reverse that decline: Fire up your waning metabolism with these 5 simple steps.
1. Pick up something heavy.
Nothing improves metabolism like building muscle. And the best way to build muscle is to lift weights. In one study, researchers put an out-of-shape group of 60-75 year-old men on a weight-lifting routine. The men lost body fat, gained muscle, and showed cardiovascular and metabolic improvements similar to young adults. Plus, a review in Advances in Preventive Medicine highlights resistance training as the most effective way to combat age-related muscle loss. “It’s crucial to make a habit of strength training,” says Lawrence Cheskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. “You don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to reap the benefits. Just spend a few minutes using your large muscles to lift something heavy.” One thing to keep in mind: vary your workouts. Doing one exercise repeatedly makes the muscles more efficient, which means they’ll burn less energy. Here’s how to start strength training.
2. Be a busybody.
Metabolism increases when stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline quickly rise and fall, which is why metabolism researchers are so enthusiastic about interval training. But if a spin class isn’t in the cards today, you have plenty of other options, says Charles Platkin, PhD, an expert in nutrition and physical activity at Hunter College. “Simple, fun, and playful movements throughout the day are enjoyable and effective ways to tell your genes to burn fat.” Platkin recommends little challenges like quickening your pace for 30 seconds while walking or standing on one leg in the elevator.
If you have a desk job, look for ways to add movement to your day. A sedentary lifestyle with lots of sitting slows metabolism drastically; the major muscle groups in your legs, back, and core can atrophy. However, taking breaks to move around for just a minute or two every hour boosts metabolism, reduces waist size, and lowers triglyceride levels, according to an Australian study. Cheskin recommends fidgeting, doing squats at your desk, or even skipping to the bathroom (ignore those strange looks you’ll get). “Find small moments to burn calories,” he says. “If you’re waiting for a table at lunch, don’t sit. Pace back and forth in front of the restaurant.”
3. Spread protein out.
Meals can be a pathway to healthy agingâ€”how great is that? But you’ve got to switch things up: The conventional American meal plan of cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and a large piece of meat with dinner may actually harm metabolism. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate a full serving of proteinâ€”roughly one egg or three ounces of lean meatâ€”at each meal burned 25% more calories than people who skewed their protein consumption toward the evening. In other words, spreading your protein intake throughout the day helps keep your metabolism humming. The researchers believe that age-related bone weakening and muscle wasting occurs gradually from middle age, the result in part from poor food choices. Arrestâ€”and reverseâ€”your decline by ditching the cereal for a veggie omelet or a bowl of Greek yogurt. Have a chicken Caesar salad or chili for lunch, and a moderate sized serving of salmon or pork tenderloin with dinner. For more ideas, check out What A Perfect Day Of Eating Enough Protein Looks Like.
4. Reach for the hot sauce.
Tossing a few jalapeÃ±os into your guacamole may help you reach your weight-loss goals. The reason: Capsaicin, a compound found in hot chili peppers, increased metabolism 30% and tamped down hunger in a group of Japanese women, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. In other research, rats on a high-fat diet with capsaicin lost 8% of their body weight and showed changes in their levels of at least 20 key proteins found in fat. And, a recent Public Library of Science study revealed that men who ate meals with added capsaicin pepper metabolized food so efficiently that they ate 25% fewer calories without feeling hungry. The best place to find capsaicin is in hot peppers. Think cayenne, Tabasco Sauce, and jalapeÃ±os. It’s also in sweet peppers, bell peppers, and paprika, but in smaller concentrationsâ€”about 75% less.
5. Power down early.
If you’re lifting weights and playing more, you’ll need a good night’s rest to let your muscles recover. Sleep is crucial: There’s a direct link between inadequate rest and weight gain. Disturbed sleep promotes fat storage and disrupts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. “Tip-top health requires sound sleep,” says Sigrid Vesey, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “The cells that regulate metabolic signaling need sleep to recover, rebuild, and clear out the toxins.” The first step to a good night’s sleep is quieting your mind. Vesey recommends avoiding electronics at least an hour before bed. The blue light from computer screens and mobile devices tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime; the light also raises stress levels and disturbs the body’s natural rhythms. Try cutting out nighttime texting, emailing, and web surfing. Instead, relax with a good book and fall into a restorative, metabolism-enhancing deep sleep.-Prevention.com