If you’re over 40, I don’t have to tell you that you’ve probably gained some unwanted pounds. You may also feel like you’re lacking in the energy department too. But, you don’t have to resign yourself to weight gain and low energy just because you’re getting older. There are several simple things you can do every day to fire up your metabolism to help you feel more energetic and win the battle of the bulge.
Eight Ways to Rev Up Your Metabolism
I hear it all the time from my patients. They watch what they eat, they exercise, but the scale doesn’t seem to budge a bit every week. They get frustrated and start to resign themselves to carrying around those extra pounds. They start to give up on getting into better shape thinking they just don’t have the energy to get there. That’s when we have a little talk about some easy ways they can fire up their metabolism to make all their efforts worthwhile. Let me explain…
1. Thyroid check. First, many people over 40, especially women, can becomehypothyroid. Your thyroid gland regulates metabolism in your body. If it’s not producing enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism will be sluggish and you’ll start gaining weight. So, first thing I like to do when my patients complain of weight gain, low energy, listlessness, is to check their thyroid hormones with a simple blood test. Low thyroid can easily be corrected to normal levels with medication. Ask your doctor if your chronic low energy might be a deficient thyroid.
2. Build Muscle. As you get older, you start to lose muscle. When muscle decreases, so does your metabolism as muscle requires much more energy to do their job than fat. With more muscle, your resting metabolic rate will be higher. This helps fight against weight gain and also helps you lose weight. So, second order in firing up your metabolism is to start doing resistance, muscle building exercise. Lift free weights or do circuit weights at the gym; whole body exercise like TRX, or whole body calisthenics, dance, floor sports, which uses the weight of your body to stress muscles. This makes muscles grow larger, heavier, and stronger. Soon you’re burning 6 calories per day per pound of muscle versus 2 for each pound of fat.
3. Step It Up. Moderate-to-fast paced aerobic exercise wakes up your metabolism quickly. So, if you’re plodding along at your same treadmill pace for 30 minutes, add some faster, harder intervals to it, to increase your heart rate. Intervals should be done for 1 minute of high paced movement with 2 minutes regular movement. Repeat a set of 6. Also, you can enroll in a faster paced aerobic class like step, or Zumba. Your aerobic workout should leave you sweating at the end of 20-30 minutes, but not red-faced and exhausted. Do higher paced aerobics 3-4 times a week for best results.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate. Next time you feel tired and sluggish, drink a large, 16 ounce glass of cold water. See how you feel afterwards. Tiredness and lack of energy can often be a sign of dehydration, even when you don’t feel thirsty. In the very cold weather we’ve been having lately, it’s just as easy to get dehydrated as it is in hot summer sun. And if you’re working out at the gym and/or sweating more for any reason, you’ll need to make sure you’re drinking enough water. As people get older, their body’s thirst signal doesn’t work as well. Studies have shown that people who drank at least 8 glasses of water a day burned far more calories than those who didn’t.
5. Energy Drinks/Coffee/Caffeine. They’re okay as a pick me up to give you that needed push to get to the gym. But, too much caffeine can actually back fire for weight loss as it can act as an appetite stimulant. Try green or oolong tea before exercise. Its catechins rev up metabolism but don’t seem to provoke appetite.
6. Eat More Often. Going without breakfast, or going for long periods of time between eating can slow your metabolism to a crawl. After a 6-8 hour fast during sleep, your metabolism needs a wake-up call. A high protein, low-moderate carbohydrate breakfast is what you need. Follow this with a high protein, low carb snack about 2 hours later, then a high protein, moderate carb lunch 2-3 hours later, followed by another snack 2 hours after that, then dinner, followed by a later evening snack. The point is to keep your metabolism at a steady burning pace and keep blood sugar levels stable to prevent energy crashes. Also, timing one of your meals to about 20-30 minutes before you exercise actually helps get your heart rate up faster to burn more fat.
7. Protein. Protein builds muscle that in turn boosts metabolism. Be sure you’re getting enough. You should be eating 0.50 to 1 gram protein per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 160, you should be eating 80 to 160 grams of protein per day. Be sure it’s high quality protein like that from beef, poultry, fish, cheese, nuts, legumes, eggs. Protein powder drinks and protein bars can also help, but be sure they don’t contain a lot of sugar which dampens metabolism.
8. Sleep. Not getting enough sleep every night will slow down your metabolism too. It’ll also rob you of your desire to get to the gym, or get out and exercise. Aim for 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Your energy levels are crucial to how good you feel as you get older. If you’re feeling chronically tired, a visit to your doctor might be in order first to rule out any underlying issues. After that, these simple metabolism re-chargers can get you feeling more energetic quickly. At the end of 1 week you should see the scale start to move downward again.