Metabolism is a complex topic, but at its most basic, metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and what you drink into usable energy. It is important to understand that metabolism does shift, change, and perhaps slow down as we age. This is a normal biological process of our bodies as we increase in chronological age. And while we cannot control that aspect of our lives, we can control how we take care of our bodies as we age and support it so that aging is blissful and done with ease.
Metabolism is partly genetic and partly dependent on behaviors or changes that you make in your lifestyle. There are three main ways your body utilizes energy each day: energy used while the body is at rest (called basal metabolism); energy used to break down food; and energy used in physical activity. This is why behaviors such as sleep hygiene, stress management, adequate nutrition, and movement practices are crucial in supporting your body’s metabolic health.
Ways to support your metabolism:
1. Don’t be afraid to pick up the weights
Building muscle helps increase metabolism, so add movements incorporating strength building, such as weight lifting and resistance training, to help to build muscle mass. As we build muscle and reduce fat percentage, our metabolic rate increases. And this is simply because muscle uses more energy than fat while at rest.
2. Increase your vitamin B intake
One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make: they under-eat and over-exercise. Our bodies need food—food is fuel, and that fuel fires up our metabolism for all its amazing functions in our bodies.
Intake nutrient-dense foods that support your metabolism, in particular ones high in B vitamins like avocado, because these vitamins are heavily involved in energy metabolism. Another food that helps support metabolism: sea vegetables, which contain thyroid-supporting iodine (thyroid helps regulate metabolism). I also recommend foods such as eggs, wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, legumes, mushrooms, and bananas.
3. 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is the optimal sleep window
As we’re well aware, sleep is crucial in supporting various hormonal and metabolic processes in the body. Don’t skimp on it! The 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. window is the optimal time to get your seven to eight hours of sleep. Create a wind-down routine, make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary, and allow yourself deserved slumber.
4. Figure out what helps you manage stress
The HPA (hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal) axis’s primary responsibility is managing your body’s reaction to stress. When you’re in a constant state of stress, cortisol levels have difficulty tapering down as the day progresses. Incorporate methods to teach your body to slow down, take pause, and practice gentleness so that stress stays at a minimal and manageable level.
Keep in mind that no two people have the same metabolic pattern. Just because you and a friend share similar habits and routines does not mean that you will have equal results. Focus on how your body feels and what feels good in your body.
And if you’re noticing symptoms such as unwanted weight gain, constipation, sluggishness, or brain fog, it’s advisable to work with a healthcare practitioner who can help you assess your nutrients and hormones. Keeping both of those in check will not only support your metabolism but also your overall health and wellbeing.