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Best Ways to Boost Metabolism After 50 to Lose Weight

Have you noticed changes in your body weight after turning 50? Maybe you’re looking for the best ways to boost metabolism because you’ve experienced weight gain despite not changing your eating habits. You’re not alone in this! 

The good news? As a Registered Dietitian and woman over 50, I’m here to tell you that achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight is still very much within your reach! 

A slower metabolism isn’t an inevitable part of aging.

Why does our metabolism sometimes slow down as we age, and more importantly, what can we do to boost it back up? Let’s dive in and explore how to keep your metabolic health on track.

Short on time? Don’t leave now! Scroll to the bottom for health hacks you can implement TODAY.

Understanding Metabolism After 50

After 50, you might notice your metabolism isn’t what it used to be. Why is that? 

As we celebrate more birthdays, we burn fewer calories at rest than we did when we were younger. 

Middle age beautiful curly hair woman wearing casual summer dress over yellow background with a confused expression with arms and hands raised.

Some natural, age-related changes can affect our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of energy your body needs to perform basic functions like breathing and circulating blood. 

This change in metabolism is a bit like how a car becomes less fuel-efficient with age.

But here’s where the good news comes in: we can tailor our lifestyle to work with our bodies, not against them. Think of it as fine-tuning that older car. Certain strategies- what we’ll call metabolism boosters– can rev up our metabolic engine. 

So, while some age-related changes may be inevitable, a slower metabolism isn’t a given. With the right approach, we can keep our metabolic health in top shape, ensuring our energy levels and body composition remain balanced. 

Dietary Strategies to Boost Metabolism

When it comes to keeping your metabolism revved up, what you eat plays a pivotal role. A diet rich in whole foods is not just a trendy health tip; it’s a science-backed strategy to boost metabolism, especially after 50.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

Whole Grains

Whole grains are your BFF in the quest for a faster metabolism. These nutritional powerhouses not only provide your body with the energy it needs, but they also come packed with fiber. 

This means they have a lower calorie content but a higher satisfaction factor, helping to keep hunger pangs at bay. 

But there’s more: whole grains can increase the thermic effect of food—increasing the amount of calories you burn digesting, absorbing, and metabolizing your meal. Whole grains make your body work harder and burn more calories in the process.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables, just like whole grains, help boost your metabolism. 

Roasted carrots, asparagus, and broccoli with a dip on a white plate.

High in fiber and rich in essential nutrients, fruits and vegetables help increase the body’s calorie-burning efficiency, much like whole grains do with their thermic effect on food.

These foods are not only lower in calories but also high in water content, contributing to a feeling of fullness and reducing the likelihood of overeating. 

The fiber in fruits and vegetables, similar to that in whole grains, requires more energy for digestion, thus elevating your metabolic rate even further. This means your body continues to burn calories as it works to break down the nutrients from your meals.

Moreover, the variety of vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies optimize metabolic function. They ensure that your body burns both calories and fat efficiently.

Incorporating fruits and vegetables alongside whole grains into your daily diet creates a powerful combination for supporting metabolism. 

Whether you’re adding berries to your morning oatmeal or enjoying a side of roasted vegetables with quinoa, these whole foods work together to promote a healthier weight and better overall health after 50.

Hydration

Staying hydrated is a simple yet effective trick to help give your metabolism a boost, especially as we get older. Did you know that something as straightforward as drinking cold water can actually help speed up your metabolism?

Here’s how it works: when you drink cold water, your body uses extra energy to warm it up to body temperature. This means you’re burning a few extra calories without even trying (1). 

But it’s not just the temperature of cold water that works. Staying hydrated in general helps your body break down fats and carbs for energy. 

If you don’t drink enough water, your metabolism might slow down because your body isn’t working as efficiently as it could be.

So, how much water should you be drinking? Aim for about eight 8-ounce glasses a day, but if you’re active or it’s hot out, you might need more. 

And if you’re not a fan of cold water? No worries—drinking it at any temperature still helps keep your body running smoothly.

Eating more fruits and veggies can also help, as they’re packed with water. Plus, as mentioned above, they’re full of nutrients that are good for your metabolism too.

In short, making sure you drink enough water throughout the day is an easy way to help keep your metabolism moving. So, grab a glass of water and drink up for your health!

Protein Intake

Boosting your metabolism after 50 can feel like a puzzle, and one major piece of that puzzle is your protein intake. 

Grilled chicken breast with lettuce salad cherry tomatoes mushrooms herbs cut lemon on a wooden board.

Why is protein so important? Well, for starters, it helps you maintain muscle mass, which is key because muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you’re at rest (2). As we get older, keeping muscle becomes crucial for a healthy metabolism.

Luckily, eating enough lean protein can help you do just that. 

Foods like chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, and even Greek yogurt are fantastic sources of lean protein. They not only support healthy muscle mass, they also help you feel full longer, reducing the likelihood of snacking on less healthy options. 

Plus, your body uses more energy to digest protein than it does to digest carbs or fat, giving your metabolism an extra little boost with every meal.

So, how much protein should you aim for? 

While needs can vary from person to person, a good guideline is to include a source of lean protein at every meal. Think about eating 20 – 30 grams of protein at each meal.

This doesn’t mean you have to go all-in on a high-protein diet, but it does mean making protein a consistent part of your meals to support your muscle mass and, by default, your metabolism.

As always, maintaining a healthy balance is key. Pairing protein with other nutrient-dense foods like fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains can make for a metabolism-boosting meal that also satisfies your taste buds and your nutritional needs

Now, let’s spice up the conversation with a bit about spicy foods.

Spicy Foods to Boost Metabolism

Adding a little heat to your meals does more than elevate flavors—it can also give your metabolism a small kick. 

Woman fanning herself.

Spicy foods have been shown to temporarily boost metabolism, meaning your body uses a bit more energy after eating them (3). This effect comes from capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their heat.

While the boost isn’t massive, it’s a fun and tasty way to help your body burn a few extra calories. Incorporating spicy dishes into your diet could contribute to your overall strategy for keeping your metabolism lively as you age. 

Whether it’s adding some chili flakes to your pasta, enjoying a spicy curry, or even just mixing a bit of hot sauce into your morning eggs, there are plenty of delicious ways to introduce a little extra heat to your meals.

Now, not everyone enjoys spicy food, and that’s perfectly fine. There are plenty of other strategies to support your metabolic health. But if you do enjoy the heat, know that you’re also giving your metabolism a bit of a nudge with every spicy bite.

Meal Frequency vs Intermittent Fasting

You might come across different suggestions about the best way to eat for boosting your metabolism. Some experts recommend eating smaller, more frequent meals, while others tout the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF). 

Both eating smaller, more frequent meals and intermittent fasting can have positive effects on metabolism, but for different reasons.

Eating more often helps manage hunger and stabilize blood sugar levels. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, may improve metabolic flexibility, allowing your body to switch more easily between using carbohydrates and fats for energy.

While these strategies might seem contradictory at first glance, they both offer opportunities to increase metabolism. The trick is figuring out how they can work together in a way that suits your lifestyle and body.

Combining Frequent Meals with Intermittent Fasting to Boost Metabolism

Integrating these dietary approaches can be surprisingly effective. 

One practical way to combine the benefits of eating smaller, more frequent meals with intermittent fasting is by adopting a 12-14 hour overnight fasting window. Within your eating window, you then distribute your food intake into smaller, nutrient-dense meals.

This hybrid approach allows you to enjoy the metabolic flexibility benefits of intermittent fasting, such as improved insulin sensitivity and the body’s enhanced ability to burn fat. 

At the same time, by consuming smaller meals during your eating window, you can keep hunger at bay, stabilize blood sugar, and maintain steady energy throughout the day.

For example, if your eating window begins at 7 AM and ends by 7 PM, you might enjoy a balanced breakfast, a midday meal, and an early dinner. In this example, your fasting window would be from 7 pm to 7 am. 

This strategy ensures that your body benefits from periods of fasting without the risk of overeating during meal times, supporting both weight management and metabolic health.

Woman wearing orange drinking tea from an orange mug.

Boost Metabolism with Green Tea

Green tea is easy to love, and it packs a punch for your metabolism too. The key is in its catechins, like Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which research shows can help your body burn fat more effectively by speeding up your metabolism (4).  

This process, known as thermogenesis, means your body gets better at burning calories without you having to do much at all. Just 2-3 cups a day can make a difference, without overdoing it on caffeine.

It’s not only great at burning body fat though. Green tea can also tackle oxidative stress, which slows down your metabolic rate. Drinking it is a simple way to keep your metabolic engine running smoothly while enjoying a comforting cup.

Omega-3s: Fuel for Your Metabolic Engine

And finally, there’s the magic of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, flaxseeds, and certain nuts like walnuts. 

Omega-3s are essential for more than just heart health; they help streamline your metabolism too. How, you might ask? By improving how your body uses fat for energy and enhancing insulin sensitivity. 

This is crucial for keeping your weight in check and preventing conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes that drag your metabolism down.

Incorporating omega-3s is as simple as having fatty fish a couple of times a week or considering a supplement. It’s an easy step with big potential benefits for your metabolic health.

And besides what you eat, moving your body is increasingly important for boosting your metabolism after 50.

Physical Activity and Exercise

It may come as no surprise that incorporating physical activity into your life is essential for boosting metabolism, especially after 50. 

Exercise not only helps burn calories but also plays a critical role in maintaining muscle tissue, which is necessary for a healthy metabolic rate. Let’s break down the types of exercises that can help.

middle age woman walking down a wooded path.

Resistance Training

Resistance training, also known as strength training or weight training, is powerful for maintaining and building lean muscle mass. As we age, preserving muscle becomes even more crucial, as muscle naturally declines, slowing down our metabolism. 

Engaging in exercises like lifting weights, using resistance bands, or body-weight exercises helps stimulate muscle growth, countering age-related muscle loss and keeping your metabolism brisk.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise, or aerobic exercise, is another pillar of a metabolism-boosting lifestyle. Activities that raise your heart rate, such as brisk walking, running, cycling, or 

Physical activity not only burns calories but also improves heart health and endurance, making it easier to maintain an active lifestyle as you age.

Flexibility and Balance Exercises

Incorporating flexibility and balance exercises into your daily routine is especially beneficial for older adults. 

While these might not directly boost metabolism like resistance or cardiovascular exercises, they play a crucial role in preventing injuries, improving mobility, and ensuring you can continue exercising regularly.

Practices like yoga or Pilates can also contribute to a good night’s sleep, which is crucial for metabolic health.

On top of exercise, there are a few other changes that can help boost your metabolism after 50 too. Let’s discuss.

Sleep Quality

Good sleep quality plays a pivotal role in boosting metabolism. A lack of sleep disrupts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, which leads to a slower metabolism.. 

Woman sleeping in bed at home in the bedroom

Furthermore, poor sleep can increase the hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease the satiety hormone leptin. This hormone shift increases appetite and potential weight gain (5). 

Here are a few tips to enhance your sleep quality:

  • Establish a consistent daily routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Create a restful environment in your bedroom—cool, dark, and quiet can help signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Limit exposure to screens and blue light before bedtime, as they can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Incorporate relaxing activities into your evening routine, such as reading or taking a warm bath, to help your body wind down.
  • Consider gentle, restorative yoga or stretching exercises to relax your body and mind before sleep.

Improving sleep quality can significantly impact your metabolism. Plus, getting a good night’s sleep regularly contributes to better decision-making when it comes to healthy eating and exercise habits.

Stress Management

Stress can have a direct impact on your metabolism. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can increase appetite and cravings. 

High cortisol levels over time promote fat storage in the abdomen and make it difficult to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Here are some effective stress reduction techniques:

  • Meditation and deep breathing exercises are powerful tools for managing stress. Just a few minutes a day can help clear your mind and reduce cortisol levels.
  • Regular physical activity is another excellent way to reduce stress. Activities like walking, yoga, or anything you enjoy can help lower stress levels and boost your metabolism.
  • Make time for hobbies and activities that bring you joy. Engaging in leisure activities can help reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life.
  • Stay connected with friends and family. Social support is vital for stress management, providing a sense of belonging and helping you navigate through challenging times.
    Woman practicing yoga outside

    The Importance of Consistency

    Consistency in your lifestyle changes—from diet and exercise to sleep and stress management—is key to boosting your metabolism over 50.

    Small, sustainable changes to your daily routine can add up to significant health benefits over time and contribute to a healthier metabolism.

    How to Boost Metabolism After 50

    Managing your metabolism after 50 might seem like a challenge, but it’s definitely within your reach with some simple tweaks to your daily habits. Adding a cup or two of green tea to your day and making veggies a regular part of your meals are easy starts. 

    And while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, the best approach is the one that fits into your life seamlessly. Start with the changes you can adopt easily, and add more changes slowly over time for optimal metabolism and fat burning.

    You’ve got this!

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    Health Hacks

    Nutrition Newbie
    Swap out refined grains for nutrient-dense whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.

    Health Enthusiast
    Add green tea to your daily routine. Want even more EGCG benefit for your metabolism? Add a healthy squeeze of lemon. The vitamin C helps you absorb even more EGCG.

    Wellness Guru
    Practice strength training twice a week, targeting the whole body. The best benefits come from lifting weights heavy enough to cause fatigue after 5-8 reps. Invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer if you are just starting out to ensure good form and decrease risk of injury.

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