This has always been a hot topic in conversations, and one that has hit close to home for me personally in recent years. I truly believed that I was going to be one of those unicorn people that would always be blessed with great metabolism. Not because I was just “lucky”, but because I felt that I earned it through my consistent healthy lifestyle. As I have entered into a more mature adult phase of life(38 years old), I have had to be more mindful and tighten up habits. Although, for the most part I have done a good job maintaining where I want to be, I have also had to learn to make some adjustments in my lifestyle and routines. Our bodies are always changing, and it’s our job to study and learn how to adapt around those changes for optimal health. So, my answer to that burning question is: Metabolism doesn’t have to slow down, we simply need to better understand it.
Metabolism functions differently in every body. Some people have a fast metabolism, and some have slow metabolism. As we age, our metabolism slows down (this is true for everyone regardless of whether we started with fast or slow). We naturally lose lean muscle mass, which in turn, slows our metabolism. We also tend to decrease our activity and burn fewer calories as we age, which leads to weight gain. The average adult loses 3-8% of muscle during each decade after 30.
My best advice to slowing metabolism:
•STRENGTH TRAIN. Increasing your muscle mass helps you burn more calories while at rest, which therefore increases your metabolism. Cardio is important for health, and can be effective for reducing body fat, but can also decrease muscle size, which in turn hurts metabolism. This is why a lot of people experience great early results from programs like HIIT training…but then plateau.I can’t overemphasize the value of resistance training, especially for women. Regardless of your fitness goal, strength training helps reverse decreases in muscle mass, strengthens bone density, and helps joints stay flexible. Find a program that works for you, and seek guidance from a professional when needed.
•SIT LESS, MOVE MORE. Burning more calories than you take in is critical to losing excess body fat. That’s why being more active throughout the day is important when trying to lose weight. This does not mean intense daily cardio sessions. You’ll get more out of consistent, general activity all throughout the day. Walk breaks are great. “Play” like a kid does. Dance around your house while cleaning. All movement is physical activity and is important beyond structured exercise.
*GET PLENTY OF SLEEP. Research shows that lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism, but this can be reversed with a good night’s sleep! Sleep is when our body goes into rest and digest mode and does all it’s repair. If you struggle to fall asleep, find consistency with a bedtime routine. Unplug from screens and technology at least 30 minutes before bed. Drink warm tea or take an herbal supplement to calm the body and mind.
•EAT CONSISTENTLY. Skipping meals tends to make us hungrier later, AND it can cause your metabolism to slow down, which makes it harder to lose weight. When we go long periods of time without eating, our bodies go into survival mode which causes our cells and body to crave food. With that said, we don’t need to eat food every time we see it. We do need to practice mindfulness to recognize our bodies’ hunger cues and eat when we need it. It helps to be prepared and understand your daily schedule so you can eat at appropriate intervals throughout the day. I cannot overemphasize the value of food prep – it’s a game-changer to always have something healthy to grab when hunger strikes!
•EAT MORE LEAN PROTEIN. Protein should be spread evenly throughout the day and incorporated into every meal. We need protein to keep our skin, bones, muscles, and organs healthy. Sources can be from whatever nutrition philosophy you live by, whether it be animals, plants, or combination of both. For example, I eat primarily plant based and have no problem eating the amount of protein my body needs from legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and other sources. Eat up from a variety of sources, add protein to your smoothie, sprinkle hemp seeds on your salad….Simply add more consciousness to your meals and feel more satiated! Protein fills us up for the day and helps us build muscle mass and, in turn, boosts our metabolism.
•EAT MORE PRODUCE. Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients that are vital to our health, so adding more of them into our diet is a simple way to eat more wholesome foods that will help us to drop excess weight. 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 our bodies fueled for longer stretches between meals. Filling meals = fewer unhealthy snacks which helps with weight loss.
•LIVE YOUR LIFE. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. We shouldn’t feel like we’re depriving ourselves. Obviously, heavily processed food, fried food and alcohol are things we can enjoy, but in moderation. Enjoy your favorite treats in small amounts. Processed foods, such as white flour and refined sugar, cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and contribute to food cravings. If you eat clean 80% of the time, having the occasional pleasurable meal with your favorite foods shouldn’t throw you off. Just be mindful.