As we age our metabolism naturally slows down, making it easier to put on weight. One complaint heard most often by women, is that it seems to have become easier to gain weight and harder to lose.
It’s not just your imagination. Life commitments, such as caring for children and aging parents leaves little time for being active. This makes it more difficult to balance energy in and energy out causing us to store more fat and have less muscle mass. These factors can all impact weight over time by reducing the amount of energy we expend on a daily basis. And during perimenopause estrogen levels may begin to fluctuate leading to sleep disturbances and moodiness. This overall combination can lead to weight gain.
One way to help reduce significant changes in metabolism as you age is to keep active. Doing so may help you maintain muscle mass and having more muscle will help to boost metabolic rate.
Increasing activity may seem like an impossible feat, particularly when you already have a busy schedule, but it doesn’t have to be so hard.
- Think Small: Create small and realistic goals to get you moving! Think of activities that you really enjoy doing and find ways to incorporate at least one of those activities into your week.
- Create Space: Involve your family in household tasks that keep you busy and away from being active so that you have a bit more time to move.
- Grab a Friend: Get support from a friend because being active together is a great way to stay motivated.
- Just Get Moving: Find ways to incorporate more activity into your day. Walk when you can, take the stairs, have an active lunch with coworkers and play with your kids outdoors. Try to incorporate strength training a few times per week once motivation has kicked in as it’s truly the best way to build muscle.
So, what about food?
Although it may seem like counting calories or following a fad diet is an effective way to ward off extra pounds in middle age it doesn’t do anyone any favors. Counting calories often leads to obsessive thoughts and behaviors around food, causing restrictive eating that is hard to maintain over time, increasing stress and decreasing overall quality of life. Not to mention, restrictive eating may also have a negative impact on metabolism.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to suggest that specific foods play a role in boosting metabolism. So there is no need to stock up on green tea, coffee, hot chili peppers…and certainly, NO energy or so-called calorie burning drinks!
When it comes to eating, nourish your body with foods that make you feel your best. Listen to your body. Choose whole grains more often, eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, choose lean animal proteins and plant based protein sources such beans, lentils, seeds and nuts.
What are some good food choices?
- Breakfast– Greek yogurt topped with fresh raspberries & homemade granola.
- Lunch– baked sweet potato topped with melted almond butter & walnuts, steamed broccoli & cauliflower, & blueberries.
- Dinner– seasoned & baked chicken breast, sauteed asparagus, a salad made with quinoa, lightly chopped spinach, hemp & chia seeds, drizzled with vinaigrette.
- Snack– homemade energy bites or protein packed smoothie.
Trying to fight against a slowing metabolism may seem frustrating and futile, as it is something that comes along with age. Maintaining a healthy weight that is right for you doesn’t have to be out of reach. Simply get active and fuel your body with nourishing foods.
Authored by: Melinda Lamarche MScCH, RD