We’ve all heard of celebrities who attribute their fab figures to a high metabolism.
But the truth is that everyone – famous or not – experiences a metabolic slowdown as they get older.
By the age of 35 you are likely to burn 100 fewer calories a day than you did at 25, and when you reach 45 it is 200 calories less.
It might not seem like much, but over the course of a month that adds up to nearly 6000 calories – meaning if you eat the same amount you will put on weight.
From our mid 20s onwards, it’s estimated we lose up to ten per cent of our muscle mass each decade – one of the reasons our metabolism slows. Also, our bodies are no longer growing and repairing themselves at the same rate.
The key to boosting your metabolism, then, is retaining as much muscle as possible – and taking a careful look at your diet…
Crash control – crash diets and fast-fix eating plans will result in weight loss, but you will be losing lean muscle as much as fat, which in the long term will slow down your metabolism even more. Experts recommend a slow but steady weight loss of around 2lb per week.
Breakfast benefits – the body burns calories simply by eating, digesting and utilising the nutrients in food, so kick starting that process first thing in the morning helps to increase your metabolism. Do, however, avoid sugar cereals, white toast, croissants and opt instead for protein-rich eggs and wholegrain toast.
Feel the heat – next time you tuck into a meal, reach for the chilli flakes, as the chemical compounds in chilli and hot peppers have been found to temporarily boost the metabolism.
Snack selection – not all snacks are bad news; avoiding sugar sweets and fatty crisps, and choosing high-fibre fruit or nuts and seeds can help keep your digestive system working on full power, burning calories in the process.
Weight to go – strength-training – lifting small weights lots of times until the muscle fails – can also be beneficial. Research shows that regular strength-training – two 15-minute sessions a week – can increase your metabolic rate by six to seven per cent, even when you’re resting.
Top training – to really burn fat and build muscle, combine your 15 minutes of strength-training with interval training – short bursts of high-intensity moves interspersed with short periods of slower movement. Try a 30-second sprint, followed by a one-minute walk and repeat for 30 minutes in total. Studies have shown that interval training is more effective at fat burning than lengthy cardio exercise sessions.