Controlling an aging metabolism

Controlling an aging metabolism

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Why is it common to hear, “Enjoy eating all that food now because when you get older, it’ll catch up to you”?

As you’ve gotten older, maybe your pants are starting to get a bit tight or you don’t feel as good as you did 10 years ago. Unfortunately, as we age it is common to see increases in undesirable weight. 

Having control over your weight begins with understanding how your metabolism works and why you are more likely to gain weight as you age. It will also help you understand why it can be difficult to lose the weight compared to how you did it in your younger years.

Your mid-20s are when your body begins to slow down and keep more fat on than off, which is caused by your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Your BMR is the number of calories you burn daily to fuel involuntary body functions, which include the functions of your heart, brain and digestive tract. It is also dependent on your body type. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn daily and vice versa. Because your muscle mass begins to decrease in your mid-20s, so does your BMR. By the time you are 60, you will need fewer calories than you did in your teens and 20s. For women, an added factor to weight gain is menopause; the ovaries eventually stop producing estrogen, which also diminishes muscle mass, lowering your BMR. This is why some women wonder why they can’t lose weight even though they’ve maintained or lowered their calorie count. 

The big question is: How do I maintain or improve my metabolism?

  1. Eat breakfast and reduce your grainy food intake by the evening time. When you eat breakfast, your body jumpstarts and you begin to fuel yourself from your night’s fast. When you are hungry, that means your metabolism has slowed down; however, this doesn’t mean to eat every time you feel hungry. By the evening time, make sure you’ve reduced your carbs significantly. Sleeping after eating a high-glycemic meal can result in weight gain, higher blood sugar and low energy.
  1. Make sure you’re eating enough food. Remember, depending on your age, your calorie intake can reduce significantly. For example, a 60-year-old man may need to reduce his calories by 350. Now, keep in mind that if you aren’t eating enough, your body will hold on to weight because it will think you are in a deficit. 
  1. Drink plenty of water. Not only can dehydration mask itself as hunger, sttudies from the University of Utah have shown that dehydration can cause you to burn up to 2-percent fewer calories. 
  1. Add plenty of protein to all your meals. Foods that are protein sources are chicken, fish, beans/lentils, beef, peas, etc. Protein is important to keeping your metabolism healthy. It will also keep you feeling full.
  1. Exercise. Whether you work out at a gym, your home or a local park, exercising is just as important as your diet. Working out will keep your metabolism boosted throughout the day. Also, if you focus on building some muscle, muscle can burn up to six calories a day. Begin with once per week and once you’ve got that down, build up to two to three workouts per week. Endurance activities such as biking and strength-building activities such as body-weight exercises will get you on track. If you do not know how to work out, that is OK! Everyone needs to start somewhere. Ask a fitness professional for advice or for some training. If you cannot afford a trainer, ask them if they can train you and a couple of friends, which will reduce the cost significantly, or just ask a friend who goes to the gym regularly. 

Controlling your weight can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Don’t let age be an excuse. 

Megan Niño is a kinesiologist and personal trainer who trains out of 12th Street Gym. She is an energetic and positive person, who prides herself on teaching others to find empowerment in their lives through fitness.

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