If you gain weight in your 20s, it is much easier to do something about it and get results. You’ll probably just tidy up your eating, increase your exercise and your weight will sort itself out in time.
However, when you hit your forties, boosting your metabolism isn’t that straightforward. As you’re starting to age and undergoing some hormonal changes, there are other factors you’ll need to look at alongside consistent exercise and healthy eating. Here are some lifestyle changes to consider.
How your protein intake affects your metabolic rate
According to studies your metabolic rate can increase by 15–30% when protein accounts for 30% of your total daily calories. And the reason for this is that when you eat food, the food has calories. And protein is really unique because your body has to burn and use calories to metabolize the protein effectively. In fact, your body uses and burns 30% of the calories that you eat in protein.
For instance, if you have 200 calories from a chicken breast, 30% of those calories are just burned up in the process of breaking down and metabolizing that protein. And this is a very good thing because you get to eat good food as your body is burning calories.
In addition to the calorie lift, protein keeps you full for a long time. So it’s a win-win for you. You eat protein, your body burns more calories, and you stay full for a longer time, meaning you’re going to eat less food.
How to use water to boost metabolism
Think about it. First of all, your body is about 70% water, meaning we need it for optimum functioning. And when it comes to boosting your metabolism, cold water is especially great because our bodies are always trying to regulate core temperature. So when you introduce something cold, your body has to use calories and energy to heat it to balance your body temperature.
Here’s something interesting:
One of the primary goals of our bodies is to maintain homeostasis. And one of the things we need to maintain homeostasis with is our core temperature. Our body is always trying to balance our temperature. This is why whenever the weather is extremely cold and you go outside, you begin to shiver. And when you shiver, your body is doing some micro contractions, burning fats to produce heat and maintain your temperature.
In one study, researchers gave young children 10mlg/kg of body weight of cold water, and they found a 20 percent increase in their resting metabolism 40 minutes after consuming the cold water. Though it’s a transient increase, if you’re someone who loves cold water, it can be great for your metabolism.
A high-intensity workout is different from steady-state cardio where you might see people at the gym working on a treadmill at a slow, easy pace for 45 minutes. Indeed, these exercises are good. Those who do it are by no means just wasting their time. It’s good for your heart and you do burn some calories. But they are not as effective for weight loss as high-intensity workouts. As the introduction of one study published in the Journal of Obesity reads,
“Most exercise protocols designed to induce fat loss have focused on regular steady state exercise such as walking and jogging at a moderate intensity. Disappointingly, these kinds of protocols have led to negligible weight loss.”
If you start doing high-intensity exercise, which involves a burst of effort followed up by some rest, you’ll get a much better result. For instance, you can do sprints on a treadmill and then you rest for about a minute while going at a slower pace and then you go for another sprint. This is especially great because it gives you a high-intensity calorie burn and you also get some stimulation to your muscles.
Why you should lift weight and build muscle after 40
Muscle building is great for metabolism because muscles are energetically expensive. If you look at a gigantic bodybuilder, say a guy who is about 200 pounds of pure muscle, he may need to eat up to 4000 or 5000 calories a day just to maintain weight. This is how energetically expensive muscle tissue is.
Meaning the more muscle you put on, the easier it is to keep the weight off because your muscles will be using up most of the calories in your body. As studies by researchers at McMaster University published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found,
“Exercise, particularly lifting weights, provides a signal for muscle to be retained even when you’re in a big calorie deficit,”
The importance of sleep
Great sleep is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of health and longevity. When we miss sleep, a couple of metabolic changes happen in our body that is damaging to our health.
First of all, your body becomes insulin resistant. And insulin is a highly important hormone because once we eat carbohydrates or some proteins, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin then helps clear out excess blood sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream and passes some into the cells, muscles, and metabolically active tissues.
Insulin is vital for life. But insulin resistance prevents fat burning. And when you miss sleep, you’re insulin resistant. This makes your blood sugar go up, increases ghrelin (which is the hunger hormone), and decreases leptin (which increases your metabolic rate by keeping you full).
To simply put, missing sleep increases your blood sugar and makes you eat more. And this is a recipe for disaster if you want a boost in your metabolism.
Green tea is a uniquely good drink when it comes to losing weight and losing fat. It has a little bit of caffeine, and research shows that green tea can increase your metabolic rate by 4–5%.
Special compounds in green tea like catechins (EGCG, ECG, EGC, EC) increase fat burning. They release fat from your cells so that your body can burn fats up and use them for the daily activities that you’re doing.
Studies show that caffeine and coffee boost your metabolic rate by up to 11%, which is a high number if you look at its effect over time. So let’s say you normally burn 2000 to 2500 calories per day, that’s an extra 200 calories. And if you stack this up for a year, you’ll realize it’s great for your metabolism.
Add MCTs to your diet
MCT means medium-chain triglycerides. Without getting too complex into the biochemistry, there are different types of fat we can eat, (triglycerides being one of them). There’s also a special kind of fat called MCTs. As the name implies, they are not long or short fats; they are medium-chain triglycerides (which have been found to increase metabolism by 12% compared to long-chain fats by only 4%).
MCT can be derived from coconut oil or gotten directly as MCT oil. And one fascinating thing about MCTs is that they are highly concentrated in breast milk. So when we get MCTs into our bodies as kids, they provide our body with energy and our bodies uniquely like to use MCTs for fat burning. It can help fuel the brain, and your body can make ketones from them too.
Apart from the fact that strength may begin to depreciate, it may be a bit more difficult to boost your metabolism at 40 than it would be for someone younger simply because older people are older and they just have more responsibilities. But it’s surely not impossible.
As the saying goes, nothing great comes easy. Commitments or problems like neck pain or back pain shouldn’t prevent you from starting an exercise program. The good thing about exercise programs is that they can be designed for your unique body. Consistency is the key. Learn to not look at the process not as a means to end, but as a lifestyle that will help you live a fuller and longer life.