Do you remember back in your younger days when you could eat anything you wanted and it not add a single pound to your body, or back when you could hit the gym once a week to lift weights and your body still look tone? Does the expression “It’s my metabolism’s fault” sound familiar?
If you find each year that you are carrying some extra pounds and struggling to lose them, it may be because of a sluggish metabolism. Some doctors say that by the age of 40 our metabolism slows by five percent each decade. That means we start to pack on extra pounds each year as our bodies become less efficient at burning calories.
It’s time for you to take back control over your body and increase your metabolism! Basically, your metabolism can be thought of as the rate at which we burn calories and ultimately it determines how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it. Your metabolism is influenced by your age (it decreases by 5% after age 40), your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women), and by the proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism rate tends to be). There are plenty other factors that can affect our metabolism such as illness, motherhood, certain medications, and metabolic disorders.
The good news is we can fight back! Here are a few key things you can do to help boost your body’s calorie burning power at any age:
Strength Training is Ultimately the Key
We may be better off spending less time on the treadmill and more time in the weight room. While cardio exercise benefits the heart and lungs, strength (resistance) training builds lean muscle mass and lean muscle mass is paramount to a fuel efficient body. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn, even in our sleep.
Eat Protein and Eat Often
Never eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day. Our metabolism thrives on food. Eat three protein-packed meals and two protein snacks per day. Snacking will actually give your metabolism a boost while protein provides a thermal (fat burning) effect superior to that of carbohydrates. Eating enough protein also helps to build and maintain muscle mass, another important factor in revving up the metabolism. Eat as often as every two to three hours and never allow more than five hours between meals. Fish, turkey, nuts, low-fat cheese, avocados, and eggs are excellent choices. And don’t forget to spice it up! Many studies have shown that spicy foods, like hot peppers, can boost metabolism.
Your body depends on water for survival. Water makes up more than half of your body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health. Drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, is a reasonable goal.
Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including those who get a lot of exercise, have certain medical conditions, are sick, or are not able to get enough fluids during the course of the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you age, your brain may be unable to sense dehydration and send the signals for thirst.
Adequate Amount of Sleep
Get to bed earlier! We need at least eight hours of sleep per night for our bodies to function properly during the day. Research shows that people who don’t get a sufficient amount of quality sleep tend to gain weight. The quality of our sleep affects the hormones leptin and grehlin, which control hunger and metabolism. Being tired also causes us to reach for empty calories like sweets.
It is the beginning of a new year so be sure to make it a priority to take care of your self and contact the fitness department at the Seattle Athletic club to talk with one of our personal trainers. We will help get you started on a wellness program that will allow you to take back control of your body.