I don’t know how it is for you, really, but I know that for me, it is harder and harder to hang on to a stable weight, let alone lose some weight. Part of the issue, I am told, is that with aging comes a gradually slowing metabolism. Thank you, Mother Nature!
What is metabolism, actually? Technically, it is all the chemical reactions that take place in our body to keep it alive. It is the process of burning the calories we consume into some usable energy. A strong metabolism, one that is working well, is beneficial for good immune function, lower rates of infectious and degenerative diseases, lean muscle mass, good energy and vigor, a correctly working brain, longevity and much more. And, yes, metabolism naturally slows steadily after age 40 or so, which means that proactively adding some metabolism boosters into daily life will keep you feeling young and energetic well into advancing years.
Our metabolism is determined by several factors, including genetic makeup, body composition, gender, activity level, and age. Whatever our metabolic rate is, how fast we burn calories, it is possible, and even advantageous to boost it.
How can we know if we are in need of some metabolic boosting.?
Some common signs are persistent fatigue, frequently feeling cold, cracked, dry, skin, slow-growing, brittle fingernails, sleep difficulties, bloating after eating, mood disorders, like anxiety and depression, difficulty concentrating (brain fog), allergies and hypersensitivities, low energy and motivation for physical activity, and getting sick more frequently.
A poor diet can sabotage metabolism. Cutting calories or decreasing calories is a common method for losing weight. However, overdoing it can have a negative impact on metabolism, and backfire in terms of fat loss. We all have different caloric needs to supply the chemicals necessary for the building, upkeep, and repair of all body tissues.
A very low-calorie diet can deprive us of key nutrients, thus robbing the body of raw materials that it needs – things like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur which are supplied in our foods.
One of the most compelling reasons to work on increasing metabolism is to support a healthy and stable weight, which prevents us from premature aging and frequent illness.
A sluggish metabolism leads to a drop in the body’s natural defense mechanism. Levels of immunity drop, making us more susceptible to viruses, yeasts, fungi, parasites, and bacteria that abound around us.
6 Practical Metabolism Boosters to Put into Practice
– Give Your Body the Calories it Needs – Stop counting calories and concentrate on nutrient density. If you are in a constant calorie deficit because your exercise level is too high and food intake is too low, your metabolism gets the message that it must slow down all functioning to conserve energy.
– Get Plenty of Rest – There is a proven link between a properly functioning metabolism and getting adequate sleep and rest. Lack of sleep can definitely mean lack of weight loss. A good 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night will keep hormone levels in check, including cortisol, which leads the body to store more fat. Also, be sure to get sufficient rest between exercise days. Exercise, definitely a good thing, impacts hormonal status, and intense workouts without rest elevate cortisol levels.
– Try Some High-Intensity Interval Training — Lowering metabolism rates because of aging does not need to be the case! A decline in metabolism seems to be related most to age-associated reductions in exercise. Quick bursts of intense exercises help the body to continue to burn calories even after the workout is over. This is known as the “afterburn effect.” (As a good physician-friend of mine told me recently, in response to my whining that I was too old for interval work — “It’s good to strive.” So I strive more happily now.)
– Start Lifting Weights — This can help speed resting metabolic rate because it builds lean muscle mass, which naturally uses up more calories than body fat does. There are certainly competent trainers who can help with this aspect of exercise, and help guard against possible overuse and/or injury. If you have weights at home, practicing with them 3 – 5 days a week for 30 – 60 will be a good metabolism booster.
– Avoid Inflammatory Foods – Some foods slow down digestive processes and increase free radical damage – a major cause of what we have come to think of as the “aging process.” The body recognizes processed and inflammatory foods as toxins, which trigger your innate immune system’s fight-or-flight response. This, in turn, increases stress hormone production and slows down metabolic functioning. Even some foods that seem “healthy” are drivers of unwanted weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, on going fatigue, hormone imbalance, and digestive distress. Some of those are sugary drinks (including soda and juices), processed foods made with grains, especially those that contain gluten (including wheat products like bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, muffins, desserts, flours, chips, and granola bars), refined vegetable oils, and artificial sweeteners and ingredients.
– Add Metabolism Power Foods — Green tea has been considered a natural metabolism booster for centuries because of its antioxidant compounds. Another food that is thermogenic, meaning that it heats up the metabolism’s heat-producing effects, is garlic. Garlic also contains allicin, which is tied to lower blood sugar levels and less fat accumulation. Naturally warming foods such as cayenne pepper, chili, and other spicy ingredients increase heat in the body thanks to their capsaicin. Other warming spices like cinnamon, pepper, and ginger aid in the process of burning fat for energy – a helpful thing when weight loss is the goal. Full of antioxidants, these spices might also help to decrease appetite and slow the growth of fat cells.