The Hearty Soul
The Hearty Soul
March 9, 2024 ·  7 min read

How to Help Accelerate Metabolism (Even After 40)

All this talk about increasing metabolism…Is a metabolism boost even possible? And if so, ‘How do I get some of that?’ says everyone who wants to drop a few pounds. Hey, I’m Shawna Kaminski – over 40 female fitness and fat loss expert and all my experience and studies say ‘YES! You can most definitely boost your metabolism with some easy fixes’.

First of all, what exactly is metabolism?

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Put simply, metabolism is defined as the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Sounds fancy, but what it really means is that when I drink a glass of wine and follow it by eating a slice of pizza, by some miracle of nature, this food is turned into the energy I need to carry my groceries into the house or mow the lawn or do any other tasks I ask of my body.

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Makes good sense…

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The trouble is, what if I drink the wine and eat the pizza and then sit on the couch? What happens then? Well then, it seems pretty obvious that those calories will be saved for a rainy day; or should I say a day when I may be in short supply of energy. In the meantime, I’ll just carry those unused calories around in my bulging belly until I need them. In modern society, there’s not really a shortage of food so I rarely need to call on those stored calories. This results in many people’s desire to relieve themselves of their emergency rations that pad their belly. Can you relate? Do you have a few pounds to lose?

Wouldn’t it be nice to boost your metabolism so you could ‘magically’ drop those extra pounds?

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Okay, so maybe there’s no real ‘magic’ to dropping that extra energy stored as belly fat and maybe I can’t empirically say that the tips below will boost your metabolism five times, but these tips are backed by scientific evidence and definitely worth implementing. You WILL see results when you apply these tips. To begin, let me just clarify something about metabolism, particularly a ‘slow metabolism’ that many blame their belly fat on. Contrary to popular belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Although your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, it’s what you eat and how much you move that ultimately determines how much you weigh.

Good News! Right?

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This is terrific news because even with the worst genetics, you can make changes to control your metabolic fingerprint. A slower metabolism can simply be boosted with some lifestyle changes. Keep in mind that your body needs energy 24/7 for respiration, circulating blood, organ function, digestion and so on. So even when you ‘seem’ to be at rest, your body continues to burn calories just to ‘live’. This is called ‘basal metabolic rate’. Several factors determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR) including sex, age and body composition. The later is the only one that we have control over, so that’s where we’ll begin to focus our discussion. Let’s get started!

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1. Caffeine

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Do you enjoy coffee? Good news! Caffeine has been shown to significantly increase metabolism! In a recent study, subjects were given 8mg/kg of caffeine and compared to a control group. The lucky caffeinated group showed increased metabolism for up to three hours. On top of that, increased fat oxidation was also noted. [1] A cautionary note regarding caffeine though: while it can be used to boost metabolism, it will also tax the adrenal glands if overused. There is a point of diminishing returns where caffeine is concerned. If you no longer feel the effects of caffeine, you quite likely are over-caffeinated and it’s a sign to put your coffee cup down.

2. Sleep

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Ever think you could ‘sleep your fat away?’ While you may not significantly boost your metabolism from sleeping more than is required, you will definitely tank your metabolism if you are sleep deprived. Chronic sleep deprivation causes a decreased ability to manage blood sugar levels. It increases levels of a protein called NYP, or Neuropeptide Y, which decreases metabolism and increases appetite – sort of a double whammy that you want to avoid. As well, when sleep deprived, natural levels of serotonin and dopamine are decreased which will increase cravings for carbohydrate-rich food. To make matters worse, lack of sleep increases the stress and belly fat storing hormone, cortisol. All these factors should motivate anyone looking to drop belly fat to protect their sleep. Most adults need a solid 7-8 hours per night. It’s best to have regular retiring and waking hours, even on weekends. Sleep quality is as important as quantity, so reducing blue light (from TV, computer screens, digital readers and smartphones) 30 minutes before bed is also helpful to ensure that the deeper sleep cycles are reached. [2]

3. Eating

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Ready for more good news? Eating actually stimulates your metabolism! More precisely, NOT eating suppresses your metabolism. The human body is a remarkable machine bent on survival. When food is withheld, the body goes into survival mode, slowing itself down to survive on fewer calories. This is why low-calorie diets usually result in weight GAIN. The body becomes more efficient to function on less fuel. Providing regular meals lets the body know that energy is readily available and it’s safe to use up some of the excess stored energy (fat). Research has also shown that those who eat more protein have higher energy expenditure at rest, so bring on the protein! [3]

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4. Exercise

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Not surprisingly, exercise is one of the BEST ways to boost metabolism, but let’s clarify exactly what type of exercise is most effective. Long ‘cardio’ workouts do more to dampen metabolism than raise it. Calories get burned whilst exercising (on a treadmill, slow jogging, doing elliptical training, etc) but once the exercise stops, so does the calorie burning.

5. High Intensity Interval Training

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A better choice is HIIT, or high intensity interval training with short bursts to spike the heart rate. This elicits EPOC or post-exercise oxygen consumption, also called ‘after burn’ because research shows an elevated calorie burn for up to 30 hours after exercise. When you pair HIIT with resistance training, you’ve got the ‘magic formula’ for a metabolic boost. Resistance training increases lean muscle tone and maintaining (or increasing) your lean ‘mass’ is really the magic behind an elevated metabolism, even at rest.
Muscle simply burns more calories than fat. Adding lean muscle to your frame not only increases the sexy in your jeans, but it also gives you a license to eat more because of an elevated metabolism. Win-win if you ask me. Keep in mind that bodyweight training actually counts as resistance training, so there’s no need to go buy a ton of weights or join a fancy gym. Here’s a terrific bodyweight solution.

Side note

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For those of you 40+ that feel your metabolism has ‘tanked’ and you’re blaming hormones, think again. This metabolic slow down has more to do with your changing body composition than your hormones. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle results in a shift: you’re likely swapping muscle tone for increased fat even though the scale may read the same number. Less muscle results in a slower metabolism. The answer is to increase activity that develops the holy grail of metabolism: muscle!

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Written By: Shawna Kaminski, Personal Trainer
This article was originally published October 5, 2016

“Shawna has been a fitness professional in the industry for over 30 years. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology and Bachelor of Education and too many certifications to count. She is a teacher at heart, having taught school for 20 years. She’s owned a small group training studio and multiple fitness boot camps.


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    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.