4 Easy Ways to Boost Your Metabolism After Age 50, According to Experts
It slows down as we age—here's how to get it back up to speed.
Most people have probably heard that a fast metabolism is a good thing—it's often equated with being fit and healthy. But what exactly is metabolism?
Gabriela Rodríguez Ruiz, MD, PhD, FACS, and a board-certified bariatric surgeon at VIDA Wellness and Beauty, tells Best Life that "Metabolism is the process in which the body breaks down food and converts it into energy. By understanding metabolism, it is possible to gain insight into how our bodies use the food we eat and how much energy we need to remain healthy," she explains.
"As we get older, our metabolism naturally slows down and our bodies become less efficient at burning calories," Rodríguez Ruiz says. The good news is, you can do something about it. Read on for her tips on boosting your metabolism after age 50.
You can be mindful about a lot of things—and eating is one of them. "Mindful eating involves being aware of your hunger and fullness signals, enjoying the taste and texture of food, savoring each bite, and avoiding distractions while you eat," says Rodríguez Ruiz. "By practicing mindful eating, you can improve your overall dietary quality by choosing healthier foods in appropriate portions [which] can help to boost metabolism, as your body will be better able to absorb and process the nutrients it needs."
WebMD recommends eating protein-rich foods, as well as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber. "Eating whole foods can help you get more of the nutritional value, since over time your body becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods keep your body fueled longer," the site advises. "You can also eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid a drop in metabolism. The longer you go between meals, the more your metabolism drops and the hungrier you feel."
And don't forget to stay hydrated. "When we drink, our body goes through a state called thermogenesis to heat the water to body temperature," according to Fit&Well. "Using energy to create heat like this requires burning calories, which can in turn boost metabolism."
Manage your weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight is part of having a healthy metabolism, and goes hand-in-hand with eating mindfully, which "encourages you to be aware of when you are full and prevents overeating," Rodríguez Ruiz says. "This can help reduce the risk of obesity-related health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke."
However, it can be confusing to figure out a healthy diet that helps you control your weight, boost your metabolism, and give your body the nutrients it needs—especially as you get older. Healthline suggests talking with a pro if you're daunted by the prospect. "Consulting a registered dietitian can help you determine the best way to lose excess body fat without having to follow an overly restrictive diet," recommends the site. "In addition, a dietitian can support and guide you throughout your weight loss journey."
Find physical activities that you enjoy.
You've probably heard the word on the street: Exercising is good for you on multiple levels. It helps you sleep better, promotes your overall health, reduces your risk of serious disease, strengthens your memory, and—yes—gives your metabolism the boost it needs after age 50.
"Regular exercise helps to boost your metabolism, so that you can better maintain a healthy weight," Rodríguez Ruiz explains, pointing out that engaging in physical activity you enjoy "makes it more likely that you will stick to it in the long run."
As we age, we lose muscle mass—a process known as sarcopenia. "Strength training, such as bodyweight exercises and weightlifting, can significantly improve muscle strength and increase muscle size and function," Healthline says.
However, you're not limited to that type of exercise. "Something as simple as a daily walk around your neighborhood or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help to boost your metabolism and improve your overall health," says Rodríguez Ruiz, noting that running, swimming, and cycling are all good options, too. "You also don't have to invest a lot of money into expensive gym equipment or join a costly gym."
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Reduce your stress levels.
One of the many ways stress is bad for us is that it has a negative effect on our metabolism.
And while you might imagine that being stressed out and anxious burns a jittery path to a faster metabolism, that's not the case. "High levels of stress can lead to a significant decrease in metabolic rate," Rodríguez Ruiz says. "When we experience prolonged periods of stress, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. This has been shown to slow down our metabolic rate and make it more difficult for us to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight."
Rodríguez Ruiz explains that lowering our stress levels can help lower cortisol levels, "allowing the body to return to its normal metabolic state and promoting better overall health." It's also helpful because reduced stress can lead "to improved mood and increased energy levels, both of which are important for maintaining an active lifestyle as we age," she notes.