How to Increase Your Metabolism After 50: Expert Tips
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. Unfortunately, this can make it harder to lose weight and keep the pounds off.
However, there are things that you can do to supercharge your metabolism and help burn more calories.
In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks for boosting your metabolism after 50. Keep reading for some great advice!
Beginning at age 30, body composition starts to change towards more fat and less muscle, and by 50, the fat accumulates mostly in the abdominal area. While these changes are more pronounced in people who eat in excess, it happens even when weight stays the same.
Beyond the way you look after these changes, there is another issue. The more fat and less muscle in your body, the fewer calories you burn. Thus, it becomes much easier to gain weight even when your eating and exercise habits don’t change.
Obviously, there is nothing you can do about your age, but there is definitely something you can do about your body composition.
Exercises to Build Muscle
- Weight training. It is never too late to go to the gym and lift weights.
- Pilates. This is a great way to build muscle, especially since it is well known for straightening the core.
- Yoga. Vinyasa and other forms of power yoga are excellent ways to strengthen your muscles and mind.
- Total body workouts. You can complete these at your local gym or even follow along with videos in the comfort of your home.
Many women fear that working their muscles will lead to a bulky, overly-muscular physique. However, the reality is that women do not possess the same level of testosterone as men, so it is difficult to achieve that ‘bodybuilder’ look through exercise alone.
Women’s bodies are naturally more inclined towards creating leaner muscle mass and a toned body that works more efficiently at burning calories.
Hormones change after 50, including decreased testosterone levels in men and estrogen in women. These hormones help regulate metabolism, which slows down when levels decline.
While you have only a degree of control over your hormone health, eating and living in a way that leads to better hormone balance is important. This includes:
- Eating a small amount of healthy fat with all your meals
- Adding lean protein or plant-based protein to your meals
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Enjoying healthier carbohydrates with your meals
- Sleeping enough
- Exercising regularly
Eat Enough Protein
There is more than one way eating enough protein can increase your metabolism.
The first is that protein helps your body build muscle, which increases metabolism.
The second is that your body uses more energy to digest, absorb, and metabolize protein than fats and carbohydrates (thermic effect of food). When you eat protein, you burn 20-30% of its calories. This is in comparison to 5-15% for carbohydrates and 0-5% for fat.
Now, we are not talking about a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. We are just saying eat enough protein.
Aim for 15 to 30 grams per meal of lean sources like fish, chicken, seafood, eggs, Greek yogurt, quinoa, or legumes.
Grams of protein in common foods*
- 3 ounces of chicken, beef, or fish: ~21 grams
- 1 cup of shredded chicken: 34 grams
- 2 large eggs: 12 grams
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt: 23 grams
- 1 ounce of almonds: 6 grams
- 1 cup of beans: 43 grams
*Amounts obtained from the USDA website
Get More Sleep
Unfortunately, the 50s are also characterized by sleep issues.
A lack of adequate sleep can have negative impacts on metabolism. Sleep deprivation can alter the metabolism of glucose and hormones involved in regulating metabolism (decrease leptin and increase ghrelin levels).
Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night can help your metabolism work more efficiently and also help with weight loss. There are a variety of things you can do to make sure you get enough shut-eye each night!
Beyond the many benefits of drinking water, here is one more: It is possible that water stimulates your body’s metabolism by stimulating thermogenesis.
This means that the body uses energy, and the more energy the body uses, the faster your metabolism runs.
Tips to Drink More Water
- Invest in a refillable water bottle and carry it with you everywhere you go. This way, it’s easy to access throughout the day to sip on whenever you’re thirsty.
- Set reminders throughout the day on your phone so that you’re reminded to drink a glass of water every few hours.
- Keep a glass of water on your bedside table to drink when you wake up in the morning.
- Add some lemon, mint, or cucumber slices to your water if it’s too plain. This will add flavor and make it more enjoyable to drink.
- When dining out at a restaurant, order a glass of water with your meal instead of juices, soda, or alcoholic beverages.
- Incorporate more soup and broth-based dishes into your meals since they contain plenty of water.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that have a high water content, like cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon.
- Enjoy herbal tea.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea has long been touted for its health benefits, and one of the most well-known is its ability to boost your metabolism.
According to studies, drinking green tea may help boost your metabolism and allow you to burn up to 3-4% more calories on a daily basis.
Green tea contains compounds called catechins, which help increase the amount of energy that your body uses, leading to an increase in metabolism.
Additionally, green tea has other beneficial effects on metabolic health, such as increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing inflammation. For these reasons, incorporating green tea into your diet could greatly improve your overall metabolic health.
Eat Spicy Foods
Say yes to spicy foods to increase your metabolism.
Capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers, could be the key to burning more calories each day. Studies have suggested that capsaicin can help you burn an extra 58 calories daily!
Capsaicin is mostly found in chili peppers, including habanero, jalapeno, hot sauces, cayenne peppers, and paprika.
Meal Plan to Boost Your Metabolism
To make it easier, here is an example of a meal plan to boost your metabolism.
Avocado toast with 2 boiled eggs made with a sprouted bread
Fruit of choice
Chicken tacos and salsa
My Expert Opinion
Everyone is different, and you need to find what works for your body. However, some strategies can help your body work more efficiently.
Make sure to get enough sleep each night, drink plenty of water throughout the day, incorporate green tea and spicy foods into your diet, and use a balanced meal plan tailored to your needs.
Last but not least, you need to build muscle. That is the hardest thing to do for most of my patients. It is a shock to them to learn they need to start worrying about their muscle mass in their late 40s and 50s. But they are shocked again by how they feel and look after a few weeks of strength training.
It is time for you to discover a stronger version of yourself.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.