By Hilary Sheinbaum
It’s no surprise that as we age, our metabolisms slow down (we hear this all the time). But, what you may not know is the rate at which we break down foods decreases 10% per decade after age 20, according to Piedmont Healthcare.
That means, if you’re 40 years old, your metabolism may be 20% slower than it was when you were in college (cue memories of eating cold pizza for breakfast and consuming 5,000 calories a day without gaining a pound).
Beyond stats (and diet decisions of yesteryear), it’s important to know that loss of muscle mass, increase of fat storage and less activity are all reasons why one’s metabolism slows down. That said, there are ways to rev up your metabolism, regardless of age.
Two experts offer their best tips — including 3 exercises and 3 foods to incorporate into your routine— for best results.
Consider this your sign to register for that trendy class in town. “Boxing is a great way to boost your metabolism,” says Ediva Zanker, the co-founder of GRIT BXNG in New York City. She suggests a combination of short bursts incorporating jabs and crosses to drive the heart rate up, strengthen your heart, help you improve your endurance, and build muscle.
“The quick intervals help increase your anaerobic activity, which overall can lead to an increased metabolism”
Zanker recommends boxing twice a week.
Zanker also suggests doing a few series of sprints two to three times per week. All you need is a great pair of running shoes. “You can do these outdoors or on a treadmill,” she says. “A sprint series should be a combination of fitness walking, jogging, then sprints.”
Last, but certainly not least, Zanker reveals her go-to for revving up one’s metabolism. “Strength training is my favorite way — and arguably the quickest way — to boost metabolism,” says Zanker. “When you add muscle mass to your body, you then have the ability to increase your base metabolism at rest.
This can then help you consequently burn more calories!” She suggests HIIT strength training two to three times per week, on alternating days.
Sprinkle this on something yummy. “Cinnamon has been shown to help your body become more sensitive to insulin and help reduce inflammation,” says Jamie Gershel, M.S. Nutrition Education in New York City. “Both help make your body process food more efficiently, decreasing the amount of time needed to metabolize what you eat.” Gershel says try adding ground cinnamon or whole cinnamon bark to your foods (or drinks) three times per week.
The chemical capsaicin, which is what makes red peppers spicy, is the key factor for this metabolism-boosting food. “Research has shown that the heat of eating peppers increases your body temperature. In response, your body will work to cool you down,” says Gershel.
“This leads to an increase in your overall metabolism. Eat as many as you wish, but be aware of your personal limitations, warns Gershel. “If you love hot peppers and find yourself experiencing an upset stomach, ease up on your intake,” she says.
We’ve all heard about antioxidants in green tea, but — hold tight — there’s more good news. “A new area that scientists are researching is the impact of green tea on muscle,” says Gershel. She explains that research shows green tea may help prevent muscle loss. “Lean muscle is important in increasing metabolism because skeletal muscle is more metabolically active at rest than other types of tissue.” she says.
“Green tea can help preserve lean muscle, keeping your metabolism from slowing down.”
Incorporating green tea one to three times a week (or every day) can help, according to Gershel. One thing to note is that it contains caffeine, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, stick to one cup in the morning and see how you feel after!