Those of us over 40 know how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight after we hit the BIG 40!!! We can’t eat all those yummy things we used to eat without putting on a few pounds. Many of us will blame it on a change in metabolism. But just how true is that? What is metabolism and are there fat-burning foods that can rev up metabolism and really help us to lose weight?
In simple terms metabolism is defined as “the amount of energy (calories) your body burns to maintain itself.” Your metabolism converts the foods you eat into the energy you need for everything you do, whether it’s eating, sleeping, running, cleaning, etc. The number of calories that a body at complete rest uses for the basic functions of breathing, blood circulation and cell repair, is called the basal metabolic rate or BMR. It is true that after 40 years old your BMR will decrease about 2% every 10 years and that it isn’t as easy to maintain your slim physique.
Studies have proven that dieting, skipping breakfast, and fasting in attempts to lose weight will decrease your BMR, totally defeating the purpose. You need to eat something to get your metabolism going—several small meals a day are recommended. There are many factors that can affect BMR including: body size (tall thin people tend to have a higher metabolism), body composition (a large person with significant muscle mass will have a faster metabolism), genetics (some lucky people are born with higher metabolism), gender (in general men will have a higher metabolism than women because of greater muscle mass), and lifestyle (a sedentary person who does little or no exercise will have a slower BMR). Combining aerobic activity with weight training is suggested to increase muscle, lower fat and raise metabolic rate, thus leading to weight loss.
Researchers have found that certain foods can help us to burn fat because they tend to boost metabolism. In some instances the amount of calories to digest the food is more than the food itself! Here is a list of foods that are recommended to help with weight loss:
- Spicy peppers such as, jalapenos, habaneras, etc. because they contain capsacin which is known to speed up heart rate and BMR. Cinnamon is another beneficial spice for fat-loss. In fact any spicy meal would accomplish the same goal.
- Green tea because it contains ECGC, a compound that may help to boost metabolism by speeding up the nervous system. It also contains caffeine, a natural stimulant that can help burn calories. And drinking a zero calorie beverage like green tea instead of a soda will definitely reduce calorie intake.
- Citrus fruits because of the Vitamin C which is known to metabolize fat faster. In particular, scientific research indicates that enjoying fresh squeezed lemon juice with your meals slows down glucose production which can help with fat-reduction.
- Dairy products because they contain calcium which recent studies found can boost weight loss efforts. In fact not enough calcium can trigger the release of calcitrol, a hormone that causes the body to store fat.
- Berries because they are high in fiber and help us to feel full. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are good choices.
- Water because it acts as a natural appetite suppressant and also helps to rid our bodies of toxins that could slow down metabolism. Just 16 oz. of water can boost your metabolic rate by about 30%. And a German study found that drinking 8 cups of water per day may burn nearly 100 extra calories!!
So if you are over 40 and weight loss is your goal, you should aim to increase your metabolism—eat some hot peppers, drink lots of water and green tea, add some berries, lemons other citrus fruits to your diet and start moving. Exercise will not only increase your BMR, it will improve your overall health and well-being.