There are many wonderful aspects to getting older, but an expanding waistline can be an unwelcome side effect.
Many of us gain weight in our 50s, 60s and beyond, and while the increase may be connected to lifestyle changes or bad habits, it can sometimes feel as though our efforts to stay healthy and active are in vain.
If this sounds familiar, your metabolism is probably slowing down (and possibly taking you with it!) Luckily, there are plenty of positive habits that you can easily incorporate into your daily life to help combat its effects.
How the metabolism works
As you get older, you gradually lose much of your body’s muscle mass. Muscle burns calories faster than fat, so if your body has less muscle than it used to but you’re still eating the same types of food in the same portions, you’re consuming more calories than you actually need. These excess calories will be stored as fat cells, which tend to accumulate in the stomach for men and the thighs and hips for women.
Unfortunately, it can be a difficult pattern to break, but the key is to trick your body into burning these calories more efficiently by switching up your usual routine.
Top tips to help boost your metabolism
- Stay active
Incorporate strengthening exercises such as weight-lifting or Pilates into your week to build muscle mass and therefore increase the speed at which calories are burned. As a bonus, your improved muscles will also increase your balance and core strength, lowering your risk of falls. If the gym isn’t for you, there are plenty of easy, cost-effective exercises you can try at home.
- Reduce portion size (but don’t go overboard)
Try using smaller plates and bowls so that you’re not under pressure to finish your serving. This will make it easier to listen to your body when it tells you it’s full and avoid over-eating out of habit.
- Avoid under-eating
By the same token, don’t go hungry in an attempt to lose weight. Your body is trained to conserve energy when it senses hunger and will store the calories as fat instead of burning them.
- Increase your intake of fibre and protein
Your body has to work hard to break down healthy fibres and proteins like spinach, broccoli, lentils, quinoa and almonds, which will burn more calories and give your metabolism a big boost.
- Eat more fish
Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to regulate the metabolism in addition to improving heart health. If you’re not a fan of seafood, try fish oil supplements or other omega-3-rich foods, such as walnuts, eggs or flaxseed.
- Start with breakfast
This age-old advice is popular for a reason! The first meal of the day has an important role to play in kick-starting your metabolism for the morning, so don’t wait too long between waking up and having breakfast and ensure that your meal is nutritious and filling.
If you’re looking to boost your metabolism and shake up your food and exercise routine in retirement, try some of these handy tips!
You can find more information about staying active and eating well by visiting The Department of Health’s website.