Although it’s not a well-loved fact, it’s commonly known that your body’s metabolism starts to increasingly slow down as you age – with most research pointing to age 40 as the time when this process starts to happen. Due to many different changes going on in the body at this time, some people start to notice unexplained weight gain, or find it harder to maintain their current weight.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best way to increase metabolism after 40, including specific lifestyle changes, food choices and even supplements that may help at this time. The truth is that, despite what many people think or fear, you do not have to fall victim to a slow metabolism once you reach your 40’s! Instead, there are things you can do to ensure that your digestion and metabolic processes are still working strong, year after year!
Before we go into our tips for maintaining good metabolism, let’s take a look at why it starts to slow down in the first place, in conjunction with age…
Why Does Metabolism Decrease at 40?
It’s been shown that your metabolism starts slowing down about 5 percent every decade after age 40, but let’s start at the beginning…
What exactly is your metabolism, anyway? Though the more scientific answer includes it being connected with important chemical processes in your body that help you thrive, when you break it down, it’s really how your body turns food into energy.
Once you hit 40, the process doesn’t work as efficiently as it once did, and here’s some possibilities of why…
Estrogen levels drop, which can cause insulin levels to go up and thyroid levels to go down. These hormonal changes may cause you to be much more hungry than usual, while simultaneously burning less overall calories.
Loss of Mitochondria
Though you may not have heard of them before, mitochondria are important structures within your cells that are responsible for converting the food you eat into energy – but they may slow down after age 40. Therefore, making it more difficult to burn calories as efficiently as you might have before.
Less Muscle Mass
Muscle is presumed to burn many more calories than fat cells, but unfortunately, muscle mass commonly decreases as you age, starting at age 40. Recent studies also show that at 40, women may actually lose muscle mass much faster than men.
Ways To Increase Metabolism After 40
Now that you know why your metabolism decreases, consider our recommended tips, below, for getting ahead of this process now, no matter your age– so you can look and feel your best as you get older!
Optimize Your Diet
Especially as you increase in years, nutrition matters more than ever before. This is because certain foods will help to ultimately support the bodily system, while others – including refined sugar and gluten – may slow digestive processes, contributing to a lack of energy, excess calories, and potential weight gain.
What are foods that increase or support metabolism after 40? It's important to focus on fresh whole foods, which will have the most natural enzymes, fiber, and nutrients. Fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, fish, unsweetened dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds are all included here.
The goal should be to get all of the daily macro and micronutrients you need to help your body function optimally. In particular, it’s especially important not to be deficient or lacking in any vitamins or minerals – and protein, fiber and healthy fats will all contribute to total body health and a healthy weight.
Add in "Metabolism-Boosting" Foods
In addition to making “fresh, clean and healthy” your new guidebook when it comes to preparing meals, there are also foods that you can add into your diet to help support the metabolic and calorie-burning processes even more. Some of these include…
Chili Peppers - These peppers contain a special property called capsaicin, which may help to burn more calories and fat.
Tea – Especially green and oolong teas contain a combination of caffeine and catechins, or antioxidants that may support the body's fat burning process.
Spices – Certain “heat-inducing” spices – including ginger and cayenne pepper – are easy to sprinkle onto your meals, and may also help your body burn more calories.
Eat Enough Protein
Next, along with fiber, protein is also extremely important after age 40, more than ever. Protein – both animal and plant-based – is known for increasing the thermic effect of food (or TEF) within your body. What this means is that your body needs to use more energy to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in protein-rich foods.
In addition, high protein foods are incredibly satiating while typically being lower in calories, which can help prevent overeating refined carbs and sugar. And, they can help to maintain muscle mass – which, as mentioned, is especially important as you age, and even more so for women. So, if you’re wondering, “How can a woman increase her metabolism after 40?”, one of the answers is to ensure she’s getting adequate amounts of high-quality protein in her diet!
Though many people think they need to get a lot of animal-based proteins to reap these benefits, plant-based proteins, such as from peas, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, and even rice, are just as effective. And meal replacement shakes are a great way to get quality protein on a busy schedule!
Increase Physical Fitness
Next to establishing a healthy diet, it’s no longer optional not to exercise after you reach 40! Physical activity becomes a must, because doing it can help increase your metabolism and burn more calories – two things that, as discussed, the body needs help with at this age.
Though doing cardio and also maintaining good flexibility are important for calorie-burning and aging gracefully, it’s also just as important to add in strength training. Because, this can help combat the decline of muscle mass. And having more muscle mass means potentially burning more calories, even at rest, which will help with weight maintenance goals.
Get Enough Water and Sleep
Next, you’ve heard it before, but getting enough sleep and H2O each day are imperative, especially as you age. Although you know you need to stay hydrated each day for proper functioning in body and mind, studies also show that drinking water – especially cold water – may naturally increase the metabolic rate, helping the body to expend more energy (aka calories).
In addition, you should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night, no excuses. Sleep is not only essential for your body to heal and rejuvenate, but getting enough sleep may help with appetite control. Especially with the hormonal changes going on after age 40, sleep can be a powerful weapon to help make sound dietary choices and avoid fatigue-related unhealthy eating.
Supplements to Help Boost Your Metabolism
Finally, there are certain supplements that may help increase metabolism after 40. Not only may these help ease symptoms of metabolic decline as you age, but they’re also a quick and convenient way to support total body health and proper functioning. Here are two we highly recommend…
One of the best ways to increase or support the metabolism after 40 is to add a high-quality probiotic supplement into your diet. Though probiotics have been shown to be incredibly useful at any stage of life, having a well-functioning digestive system is especially important as you age.
Probiotics, in general, support optimal gut and digestive health by promoting good, beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, and helping to keep a balance between good and bad bacteria (which may sound crazy, but you do still need some "bad" bacteria). This may support the natural detoxification processes in the body, helping your digestive system and metabolism to function optimally.
Apple cider vinegar
Next, of the foods that may increase metabolism after 40, another one is apple cider vinegar (or ACV). But, you may not even realize that you can take this incredibly beneficial vinegar in capsule form! An ACV supplement is extremely convenient and may also be beneficial to help prevent erosion of teeth or discomfort in the digestive tract stemming from the harsh acids in vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar is also known to be great for your digestive and gut health, helping to support the balance of bacteria in the body. It therefore may also help with proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Did you enjoy this article on some of the best ways to increase metabolism after 40? Let us know in the comments, below! Plus, want more articles on health, nutrition, fitness, and aging gracefully? We’ve got you covered on the 310 Nutrition Blog!