As we age, our bodies undergo various changes that can make it harder to maintain our health and fitness levels. One of the most notable changes is the slowing down of metabolism, which can lead to weight gain and a decrease in energy. In this blog, we’ll delve into the factors contributing to this decline and the steps you can take to improve your metabolism after 50 and beyond.
Why metabolism slows down with age
Metabolism is how our bodies convert food and drinks into energy. This energy fuels various functions, such as maintaining our body temperature, repairing cells, and powering our daily activities. As we age, this process tends to become less efficient due to:
- Loss of muscle mass: As we get older, we naturally lose muscle mass, which decreases our basal metabolic rate (BMR). Since muscles burn more calories than fat, even at rest, a lower muscle mass means a slower metabolism.
- Hormonal changes: Ageing brings hormonal changes that can also contribute to a slower metabolism. For example, growth hormone and thyroid hormone levels decrease as we age, leading to reduced muscle mass and a slower BMR.
- Decreased physical activity: Older adults may engage in lesser physical activity, which can further contribute to a decline in metabolism.
How to improve metabolism after 50
While it’s true that metabolism naturally slows down with age, there are several ways to maintain it so you can enjoy a high quality of life in your later years. Some of the strategies to keep your metabolism in check include:
1. Add more protein to your diet
For starters, aim to include a variety of protein sources to ensure a balanced intake for optimal muscle health. On average, older adults who are 50 years old and above should consume 75g of protein daily. Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef, are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, provide protein and contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs are another versatile and nutrient-dense protein option, providing all nine essential amino acids.
If you’re looking for plant-based protein sources, beans and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and black beans are a great option, as they also provide fibre and other essential nutrients. By diversifying your protein intake and including various sources in your diet, you can support the growth and repair of your muscles, ultimately helping to maintain a healthy metabolism as you age.
2. Engage in regular physical activity
Besides consuming more protein, you can also make it a point to incorporate physical activity into your routine to support your metabolic health effectively. Aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, increase your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. These exercises also help burn calories, maintain a healthy weight, and boost your energy levels.
On the other hand, strength training exercises are essential for preserving and building muscle mass. As mentioned earlier, muscle mass tends to decrease as part of the ageing process, contributing to a slower metabolism. By engaging in regular strength training, you can counteract this muscle loss, maintain a healthy metabolism, and improve overall functional fitness. Strength training exercises may include resistance band workouts, weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, or even activities like yoga and Pilates that focus on building core strength. This combination of aerobic and strength training exercises can help you work towards maintaining a healthy metabolism.
3. Get adequate sleep
During sleep, your body undergoes various restorative processes, including repairing tissues and regulating hormones that affect your metabolism. With this in mind, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This consistency helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
To improve the quality of your sleep, you can focus on creating a sleep-friendly environment. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and limit exposure to electronic devices before bedtime, as the blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your body’s ability to fall asleep. By prioritising sleep and establishing healthy sleep habits, you can support your body’s restorative processes and hormonal regulation, contributing to improvised metabolic health and overall well-being.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water helps your body efficiently process nutrients by facilitating the transport of vitamins and minerals to cells. This ensures that your metabolism has the resources it needs to function optimally.
Interestingly, research suggests that drinking water can temporarily boost your metabolism. This effect, known as water-induced thermogenesis, occurs as your body expends energy to warm the consumed water to body temperature. Although the increase in metabolism is modest, consistently drinking water throughout the day may contribute to a higher daily calorie burn.
It is generally recommended to consume at least eight glasses of water per day. However, individual hydration needs can vary based on factors such as physical activity levels, body size, and climate. If you exercise regularly or live in a hot environment, your body may require more water to stay properly hydrated. To ensure you’re meeting your hydration needs, pay attention to your body’s thirst signals, and adjust your water intake accordingly.
5. Manage stress
Chronic stress can also negatively impact your metabolism and overall health. To manage stress and its effects on your metabolism, it’s essential to incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help to reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm and well-being. These activities not only help you relax but can also improve focus, enhance mood, and increase overall mental resilience.
Establishing a strong support network of friends and family is another effective strategy for managing stress. Sharing your concerns and challenges with others can help alleviate stress, provide different perspectives, and offer emotional support. Additionally, engaging in social activities and spending quality time with loved ones can further contribute to stress reduction and promote overall well-being.
Consider financial planning for healthcare needs
As you focus on maintaining your metabolism and overall health, it’s essential to also consider your long-term healthcare needs. Part of a comprehensive health strategy includes proper financial planning to ensure that you have access to the healthcare services necessary for early detection and management of age-related health conditions. By preparing an emergency fund or exploring suitable outpatient insurance coverage options in Singapore, you can gain peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared for any potential healthcare expenses. This financial preparedness allows you to concentrate on staying fit, energetic, and healthy as you age.
To learn more about outpatient insurance coverage in Singapore, consult with insurance professionals like Expat Insurance to discuss your individual requirements.