Changing your eating and drinking habits can be an effective way to make sure your metabolism stays steady, even after 50 years old.
If you are approaching your 50s, there are a lot of habits that you need to either correct or start doing for your health. It’s important to make your routine doctor’s appointments, work out regularly, and eat foods that are good for your body to ensure you remain in the best shape possible. However, aging comes with a lot of different changes to your body—your metabolism being one of them.
As you get older, your metabolism slows down. Slow metabolism may lead to tiredness, hair loss, headaches, and weight gain. Although you cannot change the inevitable, there are ways to help progress your metabolism to avoid those situations. Changing your eating and drinking habits can be an effective way to make sure your metabolism stays steady, even after 50 years old.
1. Add chili pepper
“Adding chili pepper to your dishes may help you speed up your metabolism,” says medical expert board member Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook, The 7 Ingredient Healthy Pregnancy Cookbook, and Fueling Male Fertility.
Manaker suggests that the capsaicinoids (CAPs) found in both chili peppers and pepper extracts have been shown to play a role in enhanced metabolism.
According to a Bioscience Reports study, capsaicin—the most common capsaicinoid—plays a role in numerous aspects of your health. Specifically, it has been found to support metabolic health, especially when it comes to weight loss in obese individuals.
2. Enjoy some chocolate
Manaker suggests that eating some flavonoid-rich chocolate, like dark chocolate, can help with your metabolism.
“According to results of a study published in Molecules in 2018, people who had a daily consumption of 2 grams of dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa, for 6 months experienced better aspects of glucose metabolism versus people who had 2 grams of chocolate milk for the same amount of time,” says Manaker.
However, although dark chocolate does come with benefits, it’s important to consume this sweet treat in moderation and make sure you’re only buying 70% cocoa or more; the lower the cocoa percentage the higher the added sugar percentage. Chocolate is caloric, and consuming too much of it (like all good things) may cause weight gain—the opposite effect you want.
3. Eat more oats
“Oats, and other whole grains, may help people support a healthy metabolism,” says Manaker. “In one study, results showed that substituting whole grains for refined options may help increase a person’s resting metabolic rate.”
Eating oats can help you feel fuller longer and burn more fat. This is because raw oats are a great source of resistant starch: starch that escapes from digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. Once it reaches the colon, this resistant starch acts like a food source for the good bacteria that live in your gut. This helps keep your microbial balance healthy by providing a better ratio of “good” to “bad” gut bacteria. A healthy gut has many benefits, such as keeping appetite in check as well as supporting energy metabolism.
4. Incorporate more ginger
According to Manaker, ginger has been shown to enhance thermogenesis (calorie burning) in some studies. Consuming ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, glucose-sensitizing, and stimulatory effects on the gastrointestinal tract.
Furthermore, this rhizome may help with weight loss in those who are overweight or obese. This is because ginger is full of naturally-occurring plant chemicals which function as antioxidants. Their anti-inflammatory capabilities may also aid weight loss.
5. Drink lots of water
Drinking adequate water is a great way to help speed up metabolism after 50.
11.5 cups a day for women and 15.5 cups a day for men are the total fluid recommendations. My advice is at least half of this as 100% water.
If you wanted to add extra flavor, try drinking lemon water. This may help improve digestion and promote fullness, leading to aiding in weight loss.
6. Drink beverages with protein
Of all the macronutrients, protein takes the most energy to break down and digest. As dietitians, we often say, ‘protein helps get you full faster and keep you full longer,’ and that is due to the fact that it has a slower digestion rate than carbohydrates or fat.”
Therefore, recommends sipping on beverages with protein. Examples include those made with cow’s milk, Greek yogurt, or protein powder, which might help keep your metabolism in high gear as well as curb your appetite.
7. Avoid drinking lots of alcohol
Avoiding excess alcohol intake has been shown to support a healthy metabolism. Excess alcohol intake would be more than 2 drinks a day for men and more than 1 drink a day for women.
If consumed in moderation, drinking alcohol isn’t as bad as it seems. However, overconsuming the beverage could lead to not only weight gain from empty calories, but also come with other health issues like heart problems and hypertension.
8. Sip on green tea
One of the most powerful drinks for weight loss is green tea. The catechins found in green tea are antioxidants that have been shown to potentially increase fat burning and elevate metabolism.
Additionally, the caffeine found in green tea may help improve exercise performance by providing a boost of energy.
For increased benefit, suggests trying to consume matcha—a type of green tea that is highly concentrated with catechins.
6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism After 50
Even the fittest and most health-conscious people can’t avoid aging. And while, there’s nothing wrong with adding years of experience and memories under your belt, sometimes age adds a bit more than that.
Plenty of factors contribute to increased weight over time, but decreased metabolism is a main culprit.
In fact, even if you continue with your regular eating and exercise plan every year, you’ll still gain two pounds per year, says Kimberly Corp, certified Pilates instructor, and co-founder of Pilates on Fifth.
The good news is that you still have a lot of control over your metabolism after 50 with the help from Aaptiv.
Here are some expert tips to help rev up your engines.
Be more active in general
A general activity-level boost each day will do much more for the metabolism than one hour of intense exercise one day a week and then nothing for the remainder of the week, says Katherine Corp (Kimberly’s twin sister) certified Pilates instructor and co-founder of Pilates on Fifth. “‘Take the stairs’ sounds cliché, but it’s tried and true!”
Basically, anything that increases your activity level will serve to boost the metabolism.
Try walking a bit more, taking the stairs, playing with your children outside, etc. All lead to an increased heart rate, which will give the metabolism a boost, Katherine says.
Work out more than one muscle group at once
The leaner your muscles, the faster your metabolism. But if only a few muscles on your body are super-lean due to repeated exercises, you’re not going to get maximum results.
Kimberly suggests engaging in activities that strengthen more than one muscle group at a time.
“For example, instead of sitting and doing bicep curls, stand and do bicep curls while squatting,” she says. “Working multiple muscle groups simultaneously naturally increases caloric expenditure. On top of this, more muscle groups working translates into more muscle fibers created.”
You’ll burn more calories and increase lean muscle mass.
Time your activity well
Most of us choose one time of day to get our exercise in—whether that’s first thing in the morning or right after work.
Though having a routine is helpful, Katherine suggests incorporating physical activity into both morning and night. For example, if you typically only exercise in the morning, then do a little something in the afternoon or early evening to bring the heart rate back up for a bit.
“Evening exercisers can do the same thing in the morning,” she says. “Ten to 15 minutes of some activity in the morning will jump-start your metabolism for the day and will do a world of good.”
Eat enough protein, but not too much
“Any excess protein will be stored in your body as fat, sadly, not as muscle,” Kimberly says.
So it’s smart to get your fill. But that doesn’t mean you have to fill up on meat. Remember, plenty of plants and legumes are loaded with protein, too, such as beans, broccoli, and asparagus.
“A good plant-based diet will also provide your body with the necessary fiber to keep the system running smoothly,” Kimberly says. Isabel Smith, M.S. R.D., celebrity dietitian, and fitness expert, suggests also starting your day with protein to help balance your hormones and blood sugar level from the get-go.
Don’t skip meals
Spreading out your snacks and meals so that you’re grazing every few hours helps keep your metabolism revved, Smith says.
“Frequent eating (be mindful of portions!) can help.” Avoiding meals, especially breakfast, is bad news for your metabolism (especially if you’re eating these foods). “This tends to keep the metabolism in the slower state that it was in during sleep,” Katherine warns.
Get enough sleep
A good night’s sleep can help balance the fluctuating hormones that wreak havoc after age 50, Katherine explains. Additionally, a well-rested body is more resistant to cravings.
“Studies show that when a body is sleep-deprived, the body slows the metabolism to conserve energy,” she says. “This seems counter-intuitive, as we all know it feels like it takes more energy to function when sleep-deprived—but perhaps it is because your own body slowed your metabolism to conserve energy.”