Revving up the metabolism

By Liz Montes

Many people over the age of 40 begin to notice a difference in how easy it is to gain weight and how much tougher it is to lose it. I remember in college it only took three to four weeks of cutting out a few pizza slices and beer for me to lose some weight. Not so easy anymore. Therefore, I really work at keeping up my metabolism now so as not having to start a “diet.” Much research shows that a program of regular exercise and correct foods eaten at the correct times will really help you in keeping that midsection slimmed down. If you build muscle mass, it is the key calorie-burning tissue and the key driver of your metabolism.

Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the nutrition and weight management at Boston Medical Center, reports that at the age of 30 most people begin to lose half a pound of muscle mass a year; some lose more than that depending on activity levels. Scarier yet,  at age 50 the rate doubles! Average sedentary women can lose up to 15 pounds of muscle mass by the time they hit their 50s. Yikes! That means you can gain the same amount of fat or more, which also means tighter jeans, bigger midsections and diabetes. Think about this… with each pound of muscle that you lose, you risk putting on that same amount of fat and winding up with all these problems to boot.

You can begin slowly with focusing on strength training minimum two days a week to fight the loss of muscle. Try to kick in some cardio too. Eating healthy foods, like protein rich foods to support calorie-burning muscle mass and follow a moderate calorie diet.

A huge metabolism booster is protein; it is the building block of lean muscle mass. With each bite of protein your body automatically begins the process of breaking it down to amino acids. Amino acids are then absorbed by your muscle tissues and other cells. In short, it is the process that the body uses to maintain and build muscle. All the cells in our bodies need protein. I’ve realized with my clients many do not take in enough protein on a daily basis. That’s a big mistake. Eating too little protein for too long and your muscles start to shrink eventually causing your metabolism to slow way down. A good rule of thumb is, if you are a 5 foot 5 and 130 pounds you should aim for approximately 90g of protein. Sounds like a lot of protein but you can break it down throughout your day. For example four ounces of chicken or beef provides nearly 30g in one serving. A single serving of Greek yogurt packs in about 20. However, do remember that if you are going to increase your protein intake you may need to cut back somewhere else. Be cautious with the overall caloric intake too, cutting back on desserts is a good place to start. Mostly, just be aware of what you put in your mouth. Not having enough muscle mass will make you weaker, making it harder to exercise.

Spike up your calorie burning by staying hydrated. According to Japanese researchers having a daily cup of green or oolong tea will increase your calorie burn. Fitness Management published an article claiming that men and women who consumed a post exercise protein drink gained more metabolism revving up muscle mass and lost up to 50 percent more body fat than those who did not refuel after working out.

And of course don’t try to ignore exercise. As I am sure you are well aware, for best results, combining a healthy food program with a sensible and smart workout will help you achieve your goals. It takes a bit of time to figure it out but if you can just get out and walk, or ride a bike that will help to jumpstart any exercise program. If you are already exercising and your joints can take it jog or jump rope to get some high intensity workouts into your program.


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