When I approached my 40s I was a firm believer that I wouldn’t be a sterotype. What happened to that??
In my 40s I fell into the belief that I could easily blame my ‘slow metabolism’ – you know, the one where you look at a chocolate cake and you can feel the weight gain happening around the middle? Or, you look at the gym and think, ‘tomorrow I’ll go and sign up’?
This belief is one that is prevalent in our society today – the number of women I speak to and they all agree that the spare tyre around the middle, or the thickening thighs, or the increasing buttocks are all something we have to live with as we age, as menopause lurks ahead of us and our metabolism slows!!
This is me, in my 40s, living the dream we sell ourselves – fair, fat and forty – and the progress I made once the myth vanished!
This myth, that we have to live with this outcome, is about to be blasted out of the water!
There are three ways you can increase your metabolism and turn your body shape into one that you desire
- Increase your muscle mass
- High intensity exercise
- Having muscle building and thermogenic foods
1. Increase your muscle mass
The more muscle you have, the more energy you need to maintain it, so this ensures you are using more calories.
Resistance training is key for achieving muscle gains, since this will increase the rate of muscle turn-over and rebuilding (1). If you’re not familiar with the techniques of weight training, it may be best to focus on large muscle groups—chest, back, shoulders, and legs—for maximum metabolism results. In the gym, that means doing exercises that will train these areas specifically, such as the chest press (chest), lat pull down (back), shoulder press (shoulder), and squats (legs).
2. High intensity exercise
High intensity exercise , as opposed to exercise that is not that intense determines the extent of muscle building and cardiovascular improvements, and determines how long and to what extent you’ll burn calories after you finish your workout (2).
An example of high intensity exercise is where you work at the highest resistance you can and at the highest speed you can, for a minute, then drop both back to resting levels for two minutes. Repeat this for 5 cycles – a total of 15 minutes workout, but at a high intensity, or what is now known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT, or HIT) – see a personal trainer for a refined program that suits you. Essentially with HIIT you are working out at 80% of your maximum capacity.
An example of exercise that is not so high in intensity is a run for 30 minutes, or an aerobics class such as Zumba – good fun exercises, but not at an intensity that is going to increase the length of time or the amount of calories you burn after your workout has finished!
3. Have muscle building and thermogenic foods in your diet
The best way to support your muscle building activities in ideas No. 1 & 2, is to include protein in your diet.
High quality whey protein has been specifically shown to be of more benefit to muscle building than other proteins (3). Also, whey protein containing foods have also been shown to boost metabolism for longer than foods containing soy proteins (4).
What you’re aiming for in your food intake is foods that take more calories to digest the foods. Did you know the following facts?
- of every 100 calories of fat eaten, only 0 – 3 calories are required to digest
- of every 100 calories of carbohydrates eaten, only 5 – 10 calories are required to digest
- of every 100 caloreis of protein eaten, 20 – 30 calories are required to digest that protein
This makes protein thermogenic (calorie burning). Now, I’m not suggesting you head out and eat only protein. That is not a balanced diet and will not set you on the path of avoiding the ‘fair, fat and forty’ syndrome!! I am suggesting a balanced diet that has a calculated amount of protein contained within it (high quality protein too), up to 36 grams of protein in two of your meals. Along with fibre, carbohydrates, fats (yes, we still need ‘good’ fats for our hormones to be carried around the body safely!) and vitamins and minerals.
Other thermogenic foods to consider include green tea and chilli – as these contain thermogenic compounds that will assist the body in keeping the metabolism functioning at a high speed!
Throughout my life journey, I have been utilising good quality whey proteing, thermogenic foods and HIIT – I have achieved, and am now maintaining, my goal weight.
You can do this too and avoid the myth!
1. Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Mar;86(5):411-7. Epub 2002 Jan 29.
2. Børsheim E, Bahr R. Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Sports Med, 2003;33(14):1037-60.
3. Yang Y, Churchward-Venne TA, Burd NA, Breen L, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Myofibrillar protein synthesis following ingestion of soy protein isolate at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2012;9:57.
4. Acheson KJ, et al. Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93(3): 525-534