Another Birthday, Another Pound
You've probably read it on the cover of fitness magazines or heard it in weight loss programs that a womanÃ¯Â¿Â½s metabolism slows down as she ages. Unfortunately, it is true that metabolism slows down, by two percent every year in fact. But there is something you can do about it!
Metabolism is the chemical process in the body that converts the calories that we eat into energy to perform everyday activities. Every woman has a different metabolism due to specific factors such as genetic make-up, age, diet and exercise. Based on these factors, you may have an average metabolism, a high metabolism, which means you don't put on weight too easily, or a slow metabolism, which may make it easier for you to put on the pounds. Regardless of your metabolism type, your metabolism naturally begins to slow down as you age. If you have a high metabolism, you may not notice the change for quite awhile. But if you have an average or slow metabolism, you may find yourself contemplating just why those clothes you bought last year don't fit you any more a bit more frequently than you'd like.
The primary reason why women's metabolism slows down as they age is the loss of muscle mass and increase in fat. Metabolism, based on the basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the rate at which calories are burned, is partially affected by the amount of muscle in the body. With less muscle, the body burns fewer calories so women begin to gain weight after age 25. Since low muscle mass leads to a decreased BMR, women are well advised to begin strength training to increase muscle mass as well as metabolism. According to Tufts University, strength training and aerobics can stop the decline of womenÃ¯Â¿Â½s BMR by up to 80 per cent, while health experts say a pound of muscle uses nine times the calories as a pound of fat.
Am I Doomed?
If you are worried about your metabolism slowing down, don't be. Experts agree there are several things you can do on a daily basis to increase your metabolism, such as:
- Eat Breakfast: It is important to eat breakfast in the morning to kickstart your metabolism. Since you have gone the entire night without eating, your body needs the energy from food to help you carry out your daily activities. And if you're tempted to skip a meal in order to to do some quick weight loss, don't! Your metabolism will slow down if you skip this meal. Experts also advise eating small meals every couple of hours to help increase metabolism.
- Get Active: Your body needs to exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes a day at least three times a week, if not every day. But you don't have to do all your exercise at once; you can break it up into manageable portions with a 20 minute walk in the morning, a half-hour bike ride in the early afternoon or an hour-long aerobic workout at the gym after work.
- Build Muscle: Since muscle burns more fat and increases metabolism, it wouldn't hurt to incorporate weight training into your fitness routine. You should lift weights two to three times a week since your muscles need 48 hours to recover between sessions. If you have questions about the forms and techniques of weight lifting, you should consult a personal trainer or fitness consultant rather than risk personal injury.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Your body needs plenty of water to perform itÃ¯Â¿Â½s various functions. Plus water will help flush toxins out to keep you healthy.
- Get Enough Protein: The American Dietetic Association notes that the protein from nuts, tuna and cheese takes longer to digest, burns more calories and therefore increases your metabolism. Protein should make up 10% to 35% of your daily caloric intake.
- Get a Good Night's Rest: Women need seven to eight hours of sleep a night for the body to recuperate, for muscles to be regenerated and to feel rested enough to tackle the next hectic day! Research has shown that those who don't get enough sleep are likely to gain weight.. So get yourself a bedtime routine and be sure to catch your eight hours of sleep every night.
- Avoid Alcohol: Studies have shown that people who drink alcohol before meals will consume more calories. After the body burns the alcohol, all the other calories of the meal are stored as fat. So try to limit or even cut-out alcohol altogether from your diet.
- Try to Limit Stress: Stress can cause weight gain due to the release of hormones like cortisol that slows down metabolism. If you're feeling stressed, take 15 minutes for yourself during the day to doing something that relaxes you, like listening to music, stretching or writing in a journal.
Weight Gain During Menopause
Upon approaching menopause , many women worry that they will suffer rapid or sudden weight gain. The reason for this worry is that, due to several factors such as hormonal changes, pregnancy weight gain that haven't come off yet, and decreasing BMR, women have a tendency to gain weight even quicker once they hit 40. By diligently following the health tips above, menopausal and post-menopausal women can reduce stress, lose weight and, most importantly, achieve peace of mind