How to improve your metabolism after your 40s
Turning 40 is a huge milestone for many, and one of the things you may have since noticed is the challenge in losing weight. Even maintaining your weight can seem like a huge struggle even when you aren’t doing anything different. The culprit? Metabolism, of course!
You see, metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you consume into energy. But as you age, metabolism tends to decrease which often leads to weight gain.
Jaclyn Reutens, a dietician at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants, explains why this is so. “People tend to be less active when they age which contributes to loss of muscle mass and in turn, reduced metabolism. That’s because muscle actually makes you more metabolically active, even at rest.”
Thankfully, not all is lost and there are things you can still do to improve your metabolism even after 40. This involves maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.
We spoke to a Singaporean in her 40s to hear her personal experience with slowing metabolism and got tips from Ms Reutens on how to improve it.
Increase your activity level
When Jill Seetoh hit her 40s, she started to notice her metabolism slowing down as she struggled to maintain her weight, even with exercise.
Jill is no stranger to exercise, having been extremely active in her early 20s with yoga, kickboxing and running. But her level of activity fell from her late 20s when she started a family and did not have much time for anything else. She only started exercising more intensively again a year ago after adopting an energetic puppy which was a huge motivation to get active again. Now, she walks an hour every morning, stretches daily and runs half an hour every evening with her dog.
While Jill initially found it difficult to intensify her workouts, her perseverance carried her through and she now finds herself having more energy during the day and sleeping better at night. She shared, “I would probably say that my metabolism is now much higher, as I'm losing weight without making any changes to my diet. I didn't see much change with just light walking previously but my metabolism has since improved with my current level of activity.”
Jill's experience is in line with what the experts recommend – that keeping active is an invaluable way of improving your metabolism. In fact, exercising regularly increases your metabolic rate not just during the activity, but for subsequent hours too. While activities such as walking, jogging or cycling are recommended, you can also do simpler things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for walks after meals. Every small bout of activity adds up to improving your metabolism, compared to doing nothing at all.
Follow a sensible diet
Ms Reutens further shares that our metabolic rate is determined by other factors outside of age and activity factor. This includes our diet which is why what we eat and drink is important.
She advises getting the right balance of:
- Low glycemic index carbs: brown rice, basmati rice, sweet potato, quinoa, multigrain bread, wholemeal bee hoon.
- Lean protein: skinless chicken, tofu, beans, lentils, lean pork, lean beef, seafood, low-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt.
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Dietary fibre: a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“From a diet perspective, do not focus on a particular food or nutrient to rev up your metabolism,” says the dietician. “Make sure you are not overeating which most of us tend to do without realising. You cannot out train a bad diet. Look at the overall nutrition profile of your meals.”
“If you are unsure of your nutritional balance of meals, see a dietitian to determine if you are on track,” she adds.
Get adequate sleep
While work or taking care of your loved ones can take a toll on you, don’t let that hinder you from clocking in good sleeping habits as sleep is another important factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
A good night's sleep actually allows your body to burn calories more efficiently by repairing the hormones that regulate your appetite so that you make healthier food choices when you awake. Not getting adequate sleep also means you are more likely to be too tired to exercise. But remember, it is not just the quantity of sleep that counts - the quality matters too.
True to this, Jill tries her best to get between six to seven hours of sleep every night. She advocates that having regular bedtime, not having daytime naps and sleeping in a quiet bedroom with no television helps to enforce this. In times when she has poor sleep, she admits that she tends to eat and snack a lot.
Protect your daily routines
As you go about your day, it is important to ensure that you have adequate protection for peace of mind, especially if you are a sports and fitness enthusiast. PA Assurance is a personal accident insurance plan that protects your well-being against accident-incurred injuries. In the event of an accident during your workout, you can also get your medical expenses reimbursed when you seek treatment by a Chinese medicine practitioner, chiropractor or physiotherapist.
With the right mix of regular exercise, a healthy diet and a consistent sleep routine, it's possible to improve your metabolism in your 40s. To find out more about PA Assurance, connect with an advisor today.
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