By the time the big FIVE-O rolls around, we are faced with trying to stay fit and healthy in a body that seems to be challenged with obstacles we never experienced in our earlier years. Hormones change, metabolism slows, muscle mass decreases, and body composition shifts. HELP!
We cannot stop aging as our body slows down. But the good news is that there are things we can do to keep our bodies burning calories efficiently and looking fantastic, even after 50.
Wondering how to boost metabolism after 50?
Understanding Your Metabolism
So what is metabolism? Metabolism is the rate at which our bodies burn calories for energy. As we age, our body can’t burn calories at the same rate the way it could when it was younger. This can result in weight gain, a loss of lean muscle mass, and overall strength levels.
Remember going to school, then participating in extracurricular activities until evening, going to bed late, then back up at the crack of dawn without blinking an eye? Wow, those were the days! And all without ever thinking about how we ate or slept?
But as our metabolism naturally slows down, what we eat and how we exercise becomes more important in the struggle to maintain healthy body weight and keep body fat low.
How to Increase Your Metabolism
There are a few ways you can increase your metabolism, even after you turn 50. In a nutshell, you want to prioritize exercise, healthy eating, and getting a good night’s sleep. Here’s how:
Exercise Before Your First Meal
Try exercising before your first meal of the day to increase your metabolism. Research shows that simply getting up and going outside for a brisk walk to start your day releases an array of healthy body chemicals and hormones. This will improve your mindset, increase metabolism, and raise your overall productivity levels.
Brain-boosting chemicals like dopamine, BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), Endorphins, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine are released when you exercise and increase your heart rate for as little as 15 minutes.
So grab a bottle of water when you wake up and exercise! Simply move your body briskly for 15-30 minutes, stretch, and get your heart rate up before you eat breakfast.
If it’s raining outside or you are unable to get to the gym, get in that living room and march in place or dance to some of your favorite music. It’s easy to work up a light sweat, even at home. This will progress to more exercise, building up your endurance, losing weight, and making you feel better overall.
Do something fun!
Find a way to exercise that not only makes you move and burns calories, but makes you happy! Losing fat and getting in shape doesn’t have to be a miserable experience.
There are thousands of free exercises and workout programs online to choose from via social media and web search. YouTube and Instagram are full of energetic workouts, people offering free exercise programs. There are plenty of great ideas online for you to get fit, raise your body temperature, and boost your metabolism.
An array of weight training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), aerobic routines, and bodyweight exercises are literally at your fingertips, so no excuses!
Joining a gym that has group classes is also a great place to start. Having support and like-minded people around you in a workout atmosphere might give you the motivation and mindset you need to maintain or start a new exercise regime.
Even simple activities such as dancing or playing the drums will get your heart rate going and burning calories. If you can move, you can burn calories and boost your metabolism.
So lift weights, go for walks, whatever moves you, just MOVE!
Metabolic Exercises for Adults Over 50
Here are some suggestions and the top 5 exercise programs for adults over 50:
- Physical therapy exercises
- Weight Training
Build Muscle Mass & Boost Metabolism with Weight Training
It’s simple. Lifting weights or participating in some type of resistance training 2-3 times a week will help your body keep or put on more muscle. This burns more calories more efficiently and keeps your metabolism purring!
Don’t worry about getting too muscular at this age. Lowered testosterone levels won’t let you pack on excessive amounts of muscle mass in an older body.
At this stage in our lives, the challenge is simply keeping the muscles we have from deteriorating. We also want to avoid unwanted muscle loss that slows metabolism and calorie burning. We do not want to lose muscle or gain fat.
If you continue to build muscle, even at an older age, you can:
- Keep your body’s metabolism burning fat
- Stay lean
- Raise your basal metabolic rate (BMR)
- Avoid unwanted weight gain for many years to come
Following a three-set of 10-12 reps is a great place to start, using any type of resistance tool. Resistance bands, weights, water resistance, etc. can all be used to help you fight obesity, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and an ever-slowing metabolism.
Make sure to get your doctor’s approval or consult a physician who can provide medical advice to your particular condition before beginning any new workout routines or strength training programs. Also purchasing a few sessions from a Certified Personal Trainer would be greatly beneficial to get the right program and proper form down on your exercises and exercise plan.
The Importance of Sleep
A good night’s sleep is just as important as exercise and nutrition. This is actually probably the most underrated metabolism booster in the group.
Being rested and fully recharged directly affects your metabolism and overall health, giving you more energy and productivity, or a lack thereof.
Insomnia and lack of sleep in older adults are associated with:
- Heart disease
- Heart attacks
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Acid reflux
- Alzheimer’s disease
Do not discount simply getting enough sleep and feeling fully rested and recharged. It is essential for mental clarity, immune system restoration, and muscle recovery.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, make sure to at least take naps in the afternoon. Older adults and seniors have a huge fluctuation in sleeping habits because of many situations, so don’t feel that this is unnatural or abnormal in any way.
Whatever sleep amount your body is asking for, or when it is asking for the sleep, you must be compassionate to your overall sleep needs! Otherwise, you’ll pay the price of poor health and a sluggish metabolic rate.
If your life and schedule do not allow you to get the sleep and rest you need, it’s definitely time to make a change. Younger adults may burn the candle at both ends, but older adults after 50 must calm their flames and only burn them at one end, instead of two.
Work With the Biorhythm of Your Body Instead of Against It
Keeping things simple is the best way to go when trying to get the most out of your body and its performance levels. If you are a morning person, work out in the mornings. If you feel your best mid-day, work out mid-day.
Your body burns calories at a more efficient rate when your testosterone is spiking, whether it is in the morning, noon, or at night. Trying to force yourself to get up early when you get your best sleep during that time, bypassing when your body is naturally “more awake” is always going to be a struggle.
Build your life as much around the natural clock of your body as possible and you will always get the best results. It’s not to say to challenge yourself sometimes to get up earlier! But after age 50, let your body tell you what is best for it and build on that if possible.
You may turn into a night owl and find you get your best workouts at night, and that’s ok! There are plenty of 24-hour fitness centers available.
It may force you to a new line of work, and that’s ok too! Quality of life is based on continuous growth and experiencing new things. So maybe it’s time to turn the page in your life and reinvent yourself, putting your current state of abilities at the forefront of your priorities.
The less amount of stress you put on yourself will keep your body working its best and most efficiently. A little stress is alright, but a lot can cause unwanted weight gain and cortisol levels to rise, which will work against you and your metabolism. So be smart with your workload.
Think smarter and not harder in your 50-year-old body. Respect for your vehicle at this stage in life will slow your aging process and take you to another 50 years of being fabulous!
Healthy Eating is Essential
Eat a diet rich in healthy fats (Omega-3s) and whole grains, and low in saturated fats and processed foods. More protein such as salmon, eggs, yogurt in your diet is highly beneficial in keeping muscle on and unwanted fat off, and very tasty!
As an example, if you are 150 lbs of average body weight composition at age 50 or older, try to get in about 60 grams of protein intake per day, or about 50% of your body’s leanest body weight.
To get this daily protein requirement, you will most likely need to incorporate a good quality vegan protein shake each day. It seems like a lot, but if you do, you will see incredible results in your physique. And yes, you still have a “physique” after age 50!
Complex carbs like sweet potatoes and wild rice keep you energized. Plus, complex carbs keep your blood sugar level stable.
Healthy fruits and vegetables, such as bananas and broccoli, add important calcium, magnesium, and potassium into your diet.
Having more lean muscle tissue on your frame can result in a higher resting metabolic rate, thicker bone density, and preventing the loss of muscle mass.
So three simple rules to focus on are:
- Consume fewer calories vs. eating more calories.
- Building muscle mass vs. losing muscle mass.
- Feed your lean muscle tissue while starving fat cells.
These life changes will initiate the chemical reactions for your body to reduce body fat and begin gaining muscle.
A good rule of thumb for proper portions is to eat meal sizes that you could hold in both hands cupped together, with a ratio of 40% veggies or salad, 30% lean protein, 15% starchy carbohydrates, and 15% fruit. Also, try to get in at least a gallon of water a day.
Purchase an At-Home Food Sensitivity Test
These tests are approximately $150. With a prick of your finger, you will find out what foods, if any, cause your body allergic reactions, unwanted bloating, or water retention.
In an older body, one of the major reasons for carrying unwanted pounds is because you are eating foods your body is simply unable to digest efficiently. This causes you to hold a bunch of “gunk” in your gut.
This test will guide you in finding out if you are gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, or sensitive to any 90+ other foods. Right from the start, you can start monitoring your own clinical nutrition needs. You can eliminate foods from your diet that are causing your digestive system irritation or bloating.
You will most likely start feeling better immediately. You could even possibly lose weight simply by eliminating these irritants from your diet.
How Intermittent Fasting May Help
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It is not particular about which foods to eat or how many calories you consume, but rather when you should eat them.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained global popularity over the past few years, yielding excellent results from athletes and non-athletes alike. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Most people already “fast” every day while sleeping, then extend it by skipping breakfast and eating their first meal at noon. They’ll typically have their last meal at 8 p.m. This is called a 16-8 fast.
Most people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast. This is because the body goes into ketosis (burning more fat in the body rather than carbs for energy) after 12 hours of not eating any foods with calories. Coffee, water, teas, and non-caloric drinks are acceptable.
Studies show that this can cause healthy weight loss due to limiting your calorie intake, improve metabolic health, protect against disease, and perhaps help you live longer. Research IF and find a method that best suits your needs and body’s ability to fast.
Green Tea: A Natural Metabolism Booster
Drinking hot tea is practiced worldwide in almost every culture and is enjoyed for a variety of reasons. We drink hot tea to cool our nerves, give us energy, help digest foods, and yes, boost metabolism!
Green tea (made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant) is one of the best teas for energizing the body, calming the mind, and helping the body burn fat. So why is green tea so popular, why is drinking hot green tea advantageous, and how can it help boost metabolism?
Green tea contains caffeine (less than half the amount in a cup of brewed regular coffee) and a type of flavonoid called catechin, which is a strong antioxidant. Research suggests that both caffeine and catechin can speed up metabolism. It does this by helping the body break down excess fat, while both catechin and caffeine can increase the amount of energy the body uses.
Similar to catechin is a component called capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in hot peppers such as cayenne pepper and other spicy foods. Consuming capsaicin-containing foods trigger an adrenaline and dopamine response in the body, elevating heart rate and perspiration. So if your stomach can handle the spicy stuff, go for it! But make sure to have a glass of milk on hand to put out the fire if necessary.
Green tea contains four main catechin substances: EC, ECg, EGC, and EGCg. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most powerful of these catechins. EGCG as an antioxidant is about 25-100 times more potent than vitamins C and E.
Incredibly, one cup of green tea provides 10-40 mg of polyphenols (plant antioxidants) and has antioxidant effects greater than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries – and with no calories. These substances help:
- Suppress the ghrelin hormone (the hunger hormone in the body)
- Aids digestion
- Lower inflammation
- Boost brain function
- Slow free radical damage to cells
Another positive component of green tea that helps with weight loss is its content of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine present in green tea affects your appetite, making you feel more satisfied and less hungry, which reduces your calorie intake.
L-theanine is mostly known for making you calm, relaxed, and stress-free, and improving quality sleep. The amount of L-theanine in one cup of green tea depends on the age of the leaves, the quality of tea, and how you brew it. On average, one cup of green tea contains 20 mg of L-theanine.
Also make sure you drink your green tea hot or warm to get the most out of its calorie-burning, metabolism-boosting benefits. Warm beverages promote circulation and nutrient absorption in the body.
Several overall studies worldwide with different cultures, ages, and genders show that regular consumption of hot tea was associated with decreased weight, lower fat levels, and smaller waistlines. Meanwhile, regular consumption of iced tea was not. This is a really amazing find! Green tea is inexpensive, highly accessible, and so easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
So grab your water, green tea, protein shakes, and winning attitude, and get moving! Your metabolism is not going to boost itself and is waiting on you to start the second half of your life in championship form. Knowledge is power, so now you are fully equipped to succeed. Ready, set, go!