In the entirety of the animal kingdom, the animal with the highest metabolism is the hummingbird. With wings beating 60 to 80 strokes per second, they have such a fast metabolism that they often live just hours from starvation. Humans, on the other hand, have varying metabolic rates that can slow over time. Although there are many factors that determine individual metabolic rates, there are simple solutions to keep it boosted no matter our age. Learn more about how you can prevent the mid-age spread from becoming the mid-age sprawl.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is the process of your body converting what you eat and drink into energy. Calories that you consume are combined with oxygen to release energy into your body. When the body is at rest, it still requires energy for its most basic functions like breathing, circulating blood, and growing or repairing cells. This is called your basal metabolic rate (or metabolism).
There are many components that play a role in the speed of metabolism including: body size, gender, and genes. For example, maintaining muscles cells requires more energy. Bodies with more muscle than fat tend to have a faster metabolism.
What Causes Your Metabolism to Slow Down?
As you age, you can lose as much as 3-5% of muscle mass each decade after 30. As muscle mass decreases and fat increases, your body is unable to burn as many calories efficiently, slowing your metabolism. Additionally, drastic diets can cause your metabolism to slow down significantly. Studies have shown that losing large amounts of weight very quickly affects hormone levels and the brain, and essentially increases the feelings of hunger to return to the body’s previous weight.
“I don’t think that most people appreciate how big these metabolic changes can be when people lose a lot of weight. Weight gain and loss are not symmetrical: The body fights much more strongly to keep weight from dropping than it does to keep weight from increasing.” –Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist and author of the book Why Diets Make Us Fat.
Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
Although metabolisms naturally slow down the older you get, there are steps you can take to give it a boost. The big three are to stay physically active, maintain muscle mass, and eat a good healthy diet.
Physically Active: Aerobic exercise is the best way to burn calories. This includes activities like bicycling, swimming, and walking. Just 30 minutes a day can make a big difference.
Maintain Muscle Mass: Maybe you prefer a good cardio workout, but if you’re looking to boost your metabolism, now is the time to get comfortable with dumbbells. Weight training helps build muscle, and more muscle means your body needs more energy. One tip is to do this first thing in the morning so that your metabolism is revved throughout the rest of the day, even when you’re not working out.
Healthy Diet: Start the day with a nutrient packed breakfast. When you sleep, your metabolic functions slow. A protein rich meal will help maintain muscle mass, and takes longer to digest which will burn more calories. Additionally, eating healthy snacks throughout the day will prevent your body from going in to “starvation” mode, thus slowing down your metabolism.
Older, But Stronger Than Ever
Although you may not be able to prevent your metabolism from naturally slowing down over time, following these simple tips can help delay the decline. Moving every day while maintaining a healthy diet, which can involve adding a supportive nutritional drink like Natural Recovery Greens, will help increase your metabolism. These small life changes can make a big impact and enable you to live life to the fullest for decades.