You probably don't need scientists to tell you that your metabolism slows with age. But they're studying it anyway--and coming up with exciting new research to help rev it up again. The average woman gains 1 1/2 pounds a year during her adult life--enough to pack on 40-plus pounds by her 50s, if she doesn't combat the roller coaster of hormones, muscle loss, and stress that conspires to slow her fat-burning engine. But midlife weight gain isn't inevitable: We've found an exercise and diet plan that will tackle these changes.
Prevention's customizable metabolism-boosting workout will help you shed up to 8 pounds in just 4 weeks. Most important, you'll build firm, lean muscle tissue--the key to a robust metabolism. But that's just the beginning. To really make your metabolism soar, couple the workout with our High-Metabolism Diet, developed by Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition and kinesiology at Georgia State University, and Tammy Lakatos, RD, coauthor of Fire Up Your Metabolism. Start today and you'll sleep better, have more energy, feel firmer, and notice your clothes are looser in as little as 2 weeks. Here's how:
You need to cut calories to lose weight. But going too low delivers a double whammy to your metabolism. When you eat less than you need for basic biological function (about 1,200 calories for most women), your body throws the brakes on your metabolism. It also begins to break down precious, calorie-burning muscle tissue for energy, says Dan Benardot. "Eat just enough so you're not hungry--a 150-calorie snack midmorning and midafternoon between three meals (about 430 calories each) will keep your metabolism humming."
REV UP IN THE MORNING
Eating breakfast jump-starts metabolism and keeps energy high all day. It's no accident that women who skip this meal are 4 1/2 times as likely to be obese. If nothing else, grab a yogurt. Or try oatmeal made with fat-free milk and topped with nuts for an essential protein boost.
DRINK COFFEE OR TEA
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, so your daily java jolts can rev your metabolism 5 to 8%--about 98 to 174 calories a day. A cup of brewed tea can raise your metabolism by 12%, according to one Japanese study. Researchers believe the antioxidant catechins in tea provide the boost.
FIGHT FAT WITH FIBER
Research shows that some fiber can rev your fat burn by as much as 30%. Studies find that women who eat the most fiber gain the least weight over time. Aim for about 25 g a day--the amount in about three servings each of fruits and vegetables.