In your younger years, you may have been able to eat as much as you wanted without gaining weight. But your body requires fewer calories during middle age because your basal metabolic rate, the number of calories you burn throughout the day, diminishes. If you don’t adjust your caloric intake, you’ll gain weight gradually.
According to Madelyn H. Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Weight Management Center, your metabolism declines 5 percent each decade. At age 35, you burn about 100 less calories per day than you did at 25. That number drops to 200 fewer when you reach 45. If you don’t act, you’ll pack on unwanted pounds every year. Studies show that a variety of ways can boost your aging metabolism to lose that excess weight.
Strength Training Increases Metabolic Rate
If you do cardiovascular exercises but don’t challenge your muscles by lifting weights, you’ll lose up to 5 pounds of muscle each decade, advises Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., the South Shore YMCA fitness research director in Quincy, Mass. Cardio exercises like walking, biking, aerobics and swimming are great for your health but aren’t strenuous enough to preserve or build muscle mass. Weight lifting remodels muscle tissue continuously, burning calories.
A study measured strength-training effects on women at the YMCA. After working out 20 minutes twice a week for 10 weeks, they added 2.6 pounds of lean muscle and lost 4.6 pounds of body fat. Research equates this to boosting their metabolic rates by 7 percent.
Make Time to Feed and Build Muscle
Personal trainer Zachary Pello notes that muscle requires energy to survive. When you lose muscle mass, your body burns fewer calories to maintain it. But building muscle can help you raise your metabolism. Pello recommends multi-joint weight-lifting exercises including compound movements, squats, presses, pull downs, dead lifts, lunges and step-ups. Start with lower repetitions in the eight- to 12-rep range. Push the weights and reps, trying to beat yourself every week.
Pello also attributes muscle loss to taking on more time-consuming responsibilities as you age, which can limit your fitness availability. When you’re busy, you also may cut back on food. Eating just once or twice a day can cause metabolic composition, which lowers your metabolism to compensate. Many of his clients don’t understand why they can’t lose weight when they barely eat. He explains how your metabolism senses that you’re in starvation mode, so it stops burning calories.
When you start weight training, introduce 100 extra calories gradually every couple of weeks to help restore your metabolism. Feed your muscles with a healthy diet that includes adequate protein, vitamins and water. Watch the scale to make sure your weight doesn’t increase too much. Building muscle will account for a little gain initially. But over time, your weight should drop.
Drink Skim Milk After Your Workout
A study tracking men for three months reported that drinking two cups of fat-free milk after pumping iron five days a week increased muscle and reduced flab, compared to those who drank soy milk or a flavored-carbohydrate drink. The researchers reported evidence that women don’t build as much muscle as men, but they benefit by losing more fat.
How Yoga Makes a Difference
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a study surveyed 15,500 healthy middle-aged adults on their physical activity and weight history between the ages of 45 and 55. At least 30 minutes of yoga once a week for four or more years helped overweight people lose about 5 pounds in a decade while non-participants gained about 14 pounds. Normal-weight men and women who bent, stretched and twisted themselves into yoga postures gained 9.5 pounds, three pounds less than the control group whose weight rose by 12.6 pounds.
Researcher Dr. Alan R. Kristal believes that increased body awareness was partly responsible. This ancient practice teaches you to sense when you’re full so you won’t overeat. Co-author Denise Benitez theorizes that yoga also may boost willpower. Regular practice promotes the strength to withstand the mild discomfort of taking your body to a challenging physical edge. So after yoga class, you embrace the uncomfortable sacrifice of resisting unhealthy foods.
The Coenzyme Q10 Connection
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an energy-producing enzyme that’s present in every cell and tissue of your body. When you’re young, you can generate as much CoQ10 as your body needs. But aging can lower your natural production. Research shows that a CoQ10 deficiency can contribute to lower energy levels and a slower metabolism.
Many people believe the decrease of CoQ10 production that occurs with age is one reason why losing weight is more challenging for older people. Research has found that insufficient amounts of CoQ10 have contributed to obesity in some people. According to new tests, obese subjects with low CoQ10 levels found taking supplements made losing some of their extra pounds easier.
Establish Healthy Habits That Complement Your Fitness Lifestyle
Exercising to lose weight is just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle to increase your well-being and longevity. Correct unhealthy eating habits by replacing hidden sources of added sugars and fats with whole foods. To take care of your body, see your doctor regularly and take all medications on schedule. Save more time for exercising by ordering your prescription and over-the-counter drugs from the #1 online pharmacy in Canada.