My Metabolism Is Slow — What Can I Do About It?

The Short Answer from a wellness dietitian

Q: My metabolism is slow. What can I do about it?

 A: Your weight is determined by many factors, including gender, activity level, diet, disease status and genetics. But in the end, your metabolism may ultimately steer the ship. As you age, you lose muscle, and along with that muscle loss comes a decrease in how efficient you are at burning calories.

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But here are a few things you can do to keep the fire burning:

  1. Focus on weights — and waist.
    Keeping your muscles makes all the difference. One effective way to do this is to add resistance training to your workout. You can use machines, free weights or even your own body as resistance. I also advise my patients to ditch the scale and pick up a tape measure. Studies show that central obesity is a larger predictor of disease risk than actual weight.
  1. Load up on protein.
    Your protein needs double after age 65, but at any age, it helps to retain muscle. The key here is to focus on lean and plant sources of protein, like fatty fish, chicken breast, tofu and beans.
  1. Add some heat to your diet.
    Capsaicin, a compound found in hot foods like hot peppers and red pepper flakes, provides a temporary boost in metabolism.
  1. Ditch the saturated fats.
    Choose polyunsaturated fats instead. One study showed that people who ate more saturated fats were more likely to gain fat in their midsection, while those who focused on polyunsaturated fats gained more muscle.
  1. Engage in planned aerobic activity.
    You burn calories even after exercise stops, so plan your workouts, and actually do them!

— Wellness dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD.