As we age, our metabolism slows, making weight loss that much trickier. The major reason for this change? Decreasing muscle mass: After age 20, our muscle mass decreases about 1 to 2 percent per year, Jennifer Christman, a dietitian at Medifast, told Fox News.
“The more lean muscle we have, the higher our metabolism is, because muscle is more metabolically active than fat,” Lauren Blake, a dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explained to Fox News.
But if you’re trying to shed those extra pounds, is there any way to get around this slower metabolism? Fox News spoke to Christman and Blake to get their tips:
1. Weight train.
To prevent the slowing of metabolism that comes with muscle loss, try to maintain that muscle through exercise, including resistance training and weight training, Christman said.
“That doesn’t mean hulking out in the gym every day,” Blake explained. “It just means engaging those muscles so that you’re preventing that loss.” Great exercises can include push-ups, yoga and Pilates, Blake said.
2. Get enough calories.
You may think slashing calories will help keep your weight down, but that’s not the case, Blake said. “If you’re chronically under-eating, your body does not have the energy it needs to maintain itself,” she explained. Instead, it’ll break down energy from lean muscle mass, further slowing your metabolism.
3. Don’t skip meals.
Eating continuously throughout the day helps your body keep burning fuel effectively, Blake said. Aim for at least three meals per day.
4. Eat enough protein.
To maintain your muscle mass and keep your metabolism high, be sure to get enough protein at meals — about 1-1.3 grams per kilogram of weight, Christman said. For a 150-pound woman, that would mean about 68-86 grams of protein per day (one egg has about 7 grams of protein). Make sure the protein is from high quality sources, such as lean meats, fish and beans, Christman advised.
Blake agreed, noting that protein also helps balance our blood sugar, which helps prevent weight gain and can keep us full longer.
5. Drink water.
Research shows that if you’re dehydrated, you burn fewer calories, Blake said. Make sure to drink water throughout the day.
6. Get your hormone levels checked.
Women may want to go to the doctor to get their hormone levels checked, as they could impact weight in post-menopausal women, Christman explained. Your doctor can help you decide whether you need to regulate your hormones.