Metabolism is a life-sustaining process that relies on chemical reactions to change food stored in your body cells into energy. Many factors affect metabolism, including gender, muscle mass, physical activity, and age.
As you approach midlife, it’ll become increasingly difficult to maintain a good metabolic rate, and in turn, harder to lose weight.
Healthy eating and regular exercise can keep your energy and metabolism rate optimal especially as you grow older.
That’s where this brief guide comes in to help. Below are 11 tips on how to speed up metabolism after 50. But first…
…What is a metabolic rate?
BMR is the base metabolic rate or the rate at which a mammal uses energy to keep the engine turning over. That is, the minimum amount of calories (the measurement of energy expelled) that a man or woman will need to exist.
For a man, this is around 1700 calories a day, for a woman it’s about 1400.
Eating this amount or fewer calories, however, won’t be enough and will be detrimental to your health. Forget working out, simple daily activities from physical movement to thinking, thinking or even maintaining an optimal body temperature consumes more energy than this basal amount.
It differs a lot but humans’ standard rate of consumption is around one and a half the BMR.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
You must have heard this advice many times before, but trust us, it is important!
Water is an integral part of any diet. Whether you’re aiming for weight loss or a healthier lifestyle so you can age well, drinking enough water helps greatly.
Water is an essential ingredient in respiration, the chemical action that produces energy.
Contrary to the eight cups of water a day belief, the exact amount of water you need will depend on your body weight as well as how active you are.
How much water should you drink a day?
On average, men should drink 3.7 liters, while women need 2.7 liters of water daily. This water can be in the form of any liquids or solids that contain water.
Sugary drinks count as water but if you’re after weight loss, more calories aren’t going to help.
Not sold on drinking more water yet? Well, you should know that staying well-hydrated can also improve your sleep, mood, and cognitive functions.
Water is the body’s lubricant helping your frame and organs function properly – older people can benefit immensely.
2. Protein Is Your Friend
Just as much as water, protein-rich meals are part of any healthy diet especially as you get older.
When you age, your body loses muscle mass faster and unfortunately body fat seems to increase. More protein in your diet can help prevent the loss of lean muscle tissue.
And the body takes longer to digest proteins so more calories are consumed. In fact, it can take up to 4 hours to ingest 40 grams of whey protein!
As a result of this long digestion process, your metabolism increases, with its levels remaining up, well after you’ve finished your protein-packed meal.
Your protein intake also depends on your weight. The rule of thumb is that 1 gram of protein is required for every 1kg of weight.
3. Stay Active
Regular physical activity, for the over 40s and 50s, should be a constant part of a weekly routine even if it is a struggle to find the motivation to work out. While we don’t want to overdo exercise, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move at all.
We say that because too much cardio may age you faster since it boosts your cortisol levels—the primary stress hormone in your body.
Not only that but if not done correctly and in short intervals, extensive cardio puts extra wear and tear on the muscles. And lean muscle tissue is what we want for increasing metabolism.
It’s always good to have a foundation of regular exercise, however. Keep moving and maintain the body’s metabolism through walking, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, dancing, jogging, and water aerobics.
Don’t forget strength training as well but we’ll come to that next.
Make sure that your training schedule is nicely balanced across the week. Mixing up your sessions will help recovery and your resting metabolic rate.
Get further genned up on fitness after 50 here.
4. Focus on Building Muscles
As we’ve mentioned before, high muscle mass does boost your metabolism, but why is that?
For starters, by building muscles, you’re allowing your body to continue burning calories even after exercise with the afterburn effect.
To maintain your lean muscle mass, you need to focus on strength training activities, such as planks, squats, bicep curls, and pushups.
You can also fill your plate up with food that’s rich in calcium, vitamin D, and protein. By eating wisely, you get to keep the muscles you worked hard for.
Check out another article on over 50’s strength training.
5. Get Enough Sleep at Night
As you know, our bodies have an internal clock—scientifically known as the circadian rhythm—that regulates both our sleeping and metabolic functions.
Humans are “designed” to sleep at night and carry out their other activities by day. When you flip the switch, your metabolism doesn’t adjust the same way you do.
In fact, research shows that night owls burn calories slower than morning birds. As such, their inner metabolism slows down and they put on weight quicker.
That’s why it’s recommended to get a good night’s sleep of 8 or 9 hours. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body increases the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which makes helps you gain weight faster.
6. Eat High-Fiber and Whole Wheat
Fiber and whole wheat are up there with protein on the list of food that helps speed up your metabolism after 50.
Of course, we know that as you grow older, your body reacts differently to certain foods, including red meats and beans. Luckily, though, these aren’t your only options.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with fibers that’ll leave you feeling fulfilled. Plenty of plants such as asparagus and broccoli are packed with metabolism-boosting nutrients.
Whole grains and wheat, much like protein, take a lot of effort for your body to break down. As a result, you boost your metabolism and keeping your blood insulin levels low.
Green Tea and Burning Calories
Just a word on green tea and the alluring idea that drinking a few cups of tea a day can magically cause significant weight loss.
Like a lot of these trends, it’s not as simple as that. Various studies on the effect of drinking green tea have shown little or no change in weight loss while others have shown positive results but by means that can be simply explained away like the quantity of caffeine in green tea, for instance.
Either way, the Japanese have been drinking green tea forever and they’re not known as overweight in middle age or later. Except maybe retired Sumo wrestlers!
7. Say No to Stress
Stress is bad for you, no matter your age. The effects of stress, however, worsen in your 40s and 50s.
Although your metabolic rate is relatively stable between the ages of 20 and 60 other factors come into play that can affect it. Like body composition for instance as we tend to be less active and maybe we eat more convenience food.
We mentioned cortisol once, but it makes another appearance here. The more cortisol you release, the worse your body handles it.
For instance, more fat cells exist mainly in the belly area, and bust up your waistline.
You’ll find yourself craving sugary and high-calorie meals.
The best medicine for stress is laughter.
Do activities that bring you joy and make you feel happy on a daily basis. Try calming exercises too, such as Yoga or Tai Chi.
8. Cut Back on Sugar and Alcohol
Let’s face it, your body when you’re over 50 isn’t what it was when you were in your 20s.
It becomes harder to metabolize alcohol when you’re older. I have found this out to my own dismay.
Even if your alcohol tolerance is quite high, it’s still not a good idea to keep drinking like a 20-year-old in your 50s.
Increased consumption of alcohol causes a condition known as fatty liver. This disease directly affects how your body later stores consumed food energy.
Sugary foods affect your body similarly as well. Sugar-filled food and processed snacks cause the dysregulation of your lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
If you want to speed up your metabolism after 50, you should start cutting back on your alcohol and refined sugar intake.
Avoiding as many highly processed foods as possible is a sure way of avoiding all the bad foodstuffs – chemicals, refined sugar excessive salt etc.
9. Yogurt Should Be a Regular Treat
Yogurt is a useful part of many diets, especially if you’re planning to lose weight. Plus, it’s one of the few hearty yet delicious snacks people over 50 can enjoy!
Due to the high level of probiotics present in yogurt, your body starts burning fat faster and digests food much quicker. A healthy gut guarantees better sleep at night as well.
If you want to speed up your metabolism after 50, try having yogurt every day. In case you’re not a fan of yogurt, replace it with cottage cheese.
Other fermented foods are great to snack on too, including pickles and sauerkraut. While they can’t replace yogurt because of their higher salt content, you can still have them in small amounts.
10. Spread Out Your Meals
Many believe that having three meals a day is the way to go when losing weight. As you pass the 50s threshold, it becomes harder to follow through with this custom.
It’s for your benefit, though! In fact, research has shown that having a small meal every 2-3 hours helps boost your metabolism and quickly lose weight too.
To stay in shape, control your portions, but don’t fall into the trap of binge eating. When you keep eating all day, your insulin levels stay elevated.
As such, it’s better to stick to the traditional three-meal set, or alternatively, have a healthy snack in between each course.
11. Turn on the Blue Light Filter
Remember the circadian rhythm? Your body’s clock needs to be at a steady state so your metabolic rate can remain efficient and even improve.
One of the many bad bedtime habits people do is staying on their phones well after the lights are out. Did you know, though, that the LED lights of our phones indirectly affect our metabolism?
That’s because the phone’s light disturbs your body’s release of melanin, the sleep hormone. With irregular levels of melanin, your body can’t perform its late-night functions properly.
It’s better to turn on a warm light filter in case you need to be on your phone. We do recommend avoiding it altogether, though.
If you’ve been searching for ways to increase metabolism after 50, look no further than our guide! We hope that you find our tips easy to follow and implement in your daily life starting now.
How to boost metabolism in midlife comes down to hydrating well, eating smart, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.
More innovative ways would include lowering your screen brightness in case you spend time on your phone before bed.