Metabolism Is the process how our bodies convert what we eat into energy, to function and survive. We may have a natural, genetic rate of metabolism but it can also change as we age mainly due to changes in our body composition. Someone with a fast metabolism burns through calories more quickly, on the other hand slow metabolism, needs less fuel to keep body running. We are at our peak metabolism age 17/18 then it begins to slow. You may find in the build up to, during and after menopause you feel metabolism drops quite noticeably and you gain weight without any difference in nutrition intake or exercise levels, but this is really just due to our lean mass is naturally declining, and less energy intake needed as a result. Signs your metabolism is too slow: Difficulty managing weight. Fatigue, feeling cold, thinning hair, dry skin and nails, low energy, low mood.

Your metabolic age is: The comparison between your BMR, against the average BMR for that age/sex. Peaks at 16/17 … then declines. Metabolic age is a calculation how strong your metabolism remains. Bioimpedence scales base it on lean mass, compared to total body fat. Muscle burns more fuel so the better your comparison of lean mass: body fat, the healthier your metabolic age.

YOU CAN ALTER YOUR METABOLIC RATE by:

  • The RIGHT Exercise All activity is good but in particular for metabolism boost HIIT, jumpstarts metabolism and continues to burn fuel after exercise sessions. Preserving lean mass is absolutely key in maintaining a strong metabolic rate, so use weights and do load bearing exercise. Muscle mass naturally decreases with age and you need to maintain it.
  •  DON’T DIET! Severely limiting calories can make your body put into famine mode. In this state body will adapt and learn to use less calories for everyday tasks – it all slows down. Eat regular meals, and enough calories. If you are trying to lose weight don’t do less than 500kcal energy deficit a day, to prevent metabolic slow down.
  • REST & KEEP CALM! If running on empty, and feeling exhausted the body slows metabolism to conserve energy. In addition the cortisol hormone will be higher which leads to weight gain, poor mental functions. Stress, tiredness and the effect of elevated cortisol in system makes body conserve energy.
  • Avoid INFLAMMATORY FOODS Processed foods, saturated fats, sugary goods, and veg oils, plus exposure to toxins all increase free radicals and ultimately ageing and inflammation – leading to damaged metabolism.
  • METABOLISM BOOSTERS Eat protein – your body burns significantly more calories to digest than it does carbs and fats. Getting enough protein will also help to maintain muscle mass and muscle gain through exercise. Another reason to make sure you are getting your 1g per KG of bodyweight per day. Some foods can help too – Green tea, garlic, chilli, pepper, ginger, caffeine all produce a thermic effect in body and increase your metabolic rate a little, temporarily. It’s not enough though to counteract consuming too many calories!
  • LOOK AFTER YOUR THYROID Healthy thyroid function supports good metabolism. Iodine and selenium support your thyroid. Look to include foods rich in these nutrients – seafish (tuna, cod etc); eggs, kelp or sea vegetables. Brazil nuts and organic meats are good sources of selenium.

Look after your metabolism. A healthy metabolic rate will be key in maintaining a healthy weight, energy levels, and take steps to preserve lean muscle mass as we age. Metabolism is a big part of the whole picture in maintaining healthy lifestyle, burning our fuel efficiently and feeling as good as possible as we age.

Louise