Before we look at how you can support boost your metabolism, we should first get a (rough) understanding of how the metabolism actually works. Without bringing back any unpleasant memories of high-school biology lessons, here’s a rough overview (promise!).
What is metabolism and how is it influenced?
Metabolism is a (rather complex) process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy by using oxygen. Even at rest, your body needs energy (conventionally measured in calories) for all the "automatic" functions that keep it alive such as breathing, blood circulation, hormone balance and cell growth and repair. The number of calories your body uses for these basic functions is called your basal metabolic rate.
Your individual basal metabolic rate is determined by several factors, including your body size and composition. This means that people who are taller or have more muscle burn more calories, even at rest.
Your gender is another important factor. Men tend to have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight, which means that men can burn more calories. In addition, your age plays a role in metabolism (more on this later). As you age, the amount of muscle tends to decrease and the amount of fat tends to increase, which slows down calorie burning.
Energy needs for the body's basic functions remain relatively constant and are not easily changed.
About 10% of the calories from carbohydrates and proteins you eat every day are needed for the digestion and absorption of your food alone!
Besides the basal metabolic rate, two other factors determine how many calories your body burns per day: Firstly, food processing, also known as thermogenesis. Digestion, absorption, transport and storage of the food consumed also burn calories. About 10% of the calories from carbohydrates and proteins you eat each day are consumed during the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients alone!
In addition, physical activity is a factor. In fact, any form of exercise accounts for the rest of the calories your body burns each day. Physical activity is by far the most variable of the factors that can influence how many calories you burn per day.
By the way, you shouldn't count calories - in this article we explain why and how you can build a sustainable healthy relationship with food!
Is A “Slow Metabolism” Myth or Fact? A Nutritionist Explains
You've probably heard that some people complain about having a "slow metabolism". I wanted to know if this is physiologically correct and asked our certified holistic nutrition expert Anne Hustig:
"Yes, it is true. Energy consumption decreases only slightly up to the age of 60. From the sixties onwards, however, consumption can drop by as much as 0.7% per year. That's why many people wonder why they gain weight when they get older, even though they eat the same and exercise the same. And yes, the body masses are redistributed. Fat accumulates more quickly in the middle. For men anyway, but also for women, which tend to store fat on their hips. Lifelong exercise and light whole-body training (yoga is enough) can actually counteract this. If you are active a lot, you keep your circulation going and the changes are kept in check and you also maintain the muscle mass and its function in the long term.”
10 Tips How You Can Support Your Metabolism
Tip No. 1: Weight Training
One reason why metabolism slows down with age is less muscle mass. In your thirties, you can lose between 3 and 5% of your muscle mass per decade (1)! Muscle mass burns more calories and therefore speeds up metabolism, which is why strength training in particular helps the body keep metabolism high. Apart from that, targeted, functional strength training helps you stay agile and mobile as you age. To do this, it is important to perform full-body exercises, such as squats or push-ups. These are low-impact, so they do not put any strain on the joints, but they build or maintain muscle mass.
Tip No. 2: Protein-rich diet
This tip goes hand in hand with the aspect of strength training and muscle mass. In old age, the body burns less energy or needs less "quickly available" energy (i.e. carbohydrates). Instead, you can support your muscles with a protein-rich diet. The body generally needs proteins to maintain tissue. This not only applies to muscles, but also to skin tissue, for example. And who doesn't want to glow with firm, plump skin for as long as possible?
Tip No. 3: B-Vitamins and Magnesium
Vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins and magnesium, support the metabolism by helping to speed up the chemical reactions involved in converting food into energy.
B vitamins are found in wholemeal products such as brown rice and oatmeal. Try this chocolate and cinnamon porridge, which also contains magnesium thanks to the cocoa powder!
Tip No. 4: Breakfast
Maybe you've experimented with intermittent fasting in the past - simply because you're not hungry in the morning or as a diet. However, to benefit your metabolism and blood sugar level, you should not skip breakfast as you get older. It's best to fortify your body in the morning with a balanced, plant-based breakfast. If you're not very hungry in the morning, a light smoothie or Bliss Balls will do the trick. You can find more delicious breakfast recipes on our recipe blog by clicking here.
Tip No. 5: Drink Water
Water is essential for all bodily functions - after all, 70% of our body is made up of water! By drinking enough water throughout the day (and rather avoiding high-sugar soft drinks), you also support your metabolism. This is reflected, for example, in a well-functioning digestive system and clear skin. But you also support the elimination of toxins via the liver by drinking enough. Is water too boring for you? Then try this fruity spa water recipe!
Tip No. 6: Beans
Who would have thought that beans can also speed up your metabolism! Yep, beans are not only a fantastic vegan source of protein, but they are also full of fibre, which feed the good gut bacteria and keeps you full, as they can't be broken down quickly by the body. So not only does this tip help you boost your metabolism, it also supports your gut, which is important for your wellbeing.
Tip No. 7: Fats
You've probably heard by now that fats don't necessarily make you fat - it depends on the fats or fatty acids you eat. Monounsaturated fatty acids, for example, can boost metabolism by increasing calorie consumption. In addition, a balanced amount of vegetable fats (preferably from whole foods such as nuts, seeds or avocados) ensures that blood sugar remains stable. This means fewer cravings and higher energy consumption hours after the meal. Apart from tasting delicious and being handy for snacking on the go, nuts are full of vitamins and are a so-called brain food!
Tip No. 8: Snacks
As you may have noticed, the right way to a healthy and fit body in old age is not through numerous diets, but on the contrary: high-quality, whole food sources. In other words: no starvation, no low-fat stories and rather introduce a few healthy snacks into your day. When you feed your body regularly, you signal to it that it can also burn energy regularly, so your metabolism stays active. However, if you starve or underfeed your body, it will go into energy-saving mode. You can compare this with a mobile phone. When the battery is less than 20%, it goes into power-saving mode, where all background updates are shut down so that you can only do the basics. For the body, this means that all processes run more slowly and energy is saved wherever possible. Not infrequently, this also affects the brain, and you may suffer from concentration problems, headaches or "brain fog". Your body doesn't know when there will be enough nutrients to burn again! So show it you love it and want to nourish regularly with whole foods.
Tip No. 9: Stress less
Being stressed doesn't feel great, and you may be suffering from stress pimples or other symptoms on your body that tell you you've overdone it again. But did you know that stress can have a negative effect on your metabolism? This is due to the stress hormone cortisol, which is triggered when you are in danger - whether for a long or short period of time. Thanks to cortisol, you may notice a short burst of energy (which you might need to run away from the tiger, for example). But at the same time, this means that cortisol causes blood sugar levels to rise, in your body it's like eating sweets all the time! And this brings a second hormone into play: Insulin, the so-called fat storage hormone. Its job is to transport access sugar from carbohydrates (that the body doesn’t need for energy right now) from the bloodstream into the cells and store it there as fat.. Yoga teacher Nina Chin shares her best relaxation tips to help you calm down right away!
Tip No. 10: Movement
We've already discussed strength training. However, it's not enough if you just torture yourself 3-4 times a week in the gym and otherwise lounge around on the couch. Instead, try to move regularly in your everyday life. And I don't mean hardcore workouts, but simple walks, gentle yoga, stair climbing or similar. This will keep your energy consumption high and at the same time train the muscles you need to stay agile as you get older.