When you get older, it becomes harder to try and find the time to stay in shape. Keeping fit is important for all age groups, as you will find yourself living longer and have more energy to do your favourite activities. Read on to find some pointers on getting fit fast:
Key 1: Eat early
Your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns at rest) is based on things such as your age, height, and body type, so there isn't much you can do to change it. However, there is a lot you can do to change the number of calories you burn, beginning with your diet. For example, eating breakfast.
We already know the reasons you may not want to (you don't have the time/energy/stomach for it), but leaving for work on an empty stomach is like hitting the pause button on your metabolism. Here's why: When your brain senses your stomach is empty, it sends a message to your cells to conserve energy in case another meal doesn't arrive. In other words, your body holds onto the fat stored in your cells instead of helping you burn it off.
Key 2: Eat often
To keep your metabolism going, it is recommended you eat small meals every three or four hours. Aim to make each of those meals at least one-quarter protein, which can be found in animal protein, beans, or dairy.
However, foods high in sugar and processed carbs can lead to problems like insulin resistance. When we get older, it's vital we pay attention to how much sugar we consume. It is detrimental to your metabolism to cause your body to store extra calories as fat.
Key 3: Sweat off the weight
Exercise is the most important factor. It affects your metabolism while you're doing it, and you can keep burning calories up to 24 hours after you finish exercising because your metabolism stays elevated.
That's especially true if you challenge yourself: Studies have shown that intense bouts of exercise can "turn on" genes responsible for energy metabolism. Researchers found that the activation of these fat- burning genes was higher in cyclists who pedaled at 80 percent of their aerobic capacity versus those who did a more moderate cycling session at 40 percent. Though you cannot change your DNA, experts say exercise can fire up certain genes that initiate the fat-burning process.
Exercise is particularly helpful once you pass the age of 40, when your metabolism naturally begins to slow down. Experts used to believe it slowed due to an inevitable loss of muscle mass. However, health journals have found that fit women ages 41 to 81 who continued to exercise four to five times a week as they got older had little change in body composition. The real reason you lose muscle with age is because you stop using it. Women who keep up a regular vigorous fitness routine don't experience metabolic decrease.
Key 4: Sleep away the weight
Too little sleep can cause you to gain weight and not just because of overeating. Research suggests that people who sleep two-thirds of their usual amount (five hours instead of eight, say) eat an average of 549 extra calories the following day without realizing it. Experts believe this is because a lack of sleep upsets the balance of important appetite-regulating hormones.
Also, a Swedish study found that even one night of disrupted sleep can cause the body to burn up to 20 percent fewer calories the following day. Sleep deprivation impacts multiple hormones related to metabolism. Hormones that regulate body weight and signal to your brain that you're hungry also increase.
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Even a small change in your sleep schedule can make a big difference in your health, along with your ability to burn calories.
To summarise, the secret to getting fit fast is eating more often, sleeping longer, and spending less time working out.
Savacool. J, ‘A Faster Metabolism at Any Age’, www.health.com, May 09, 2012.