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6 ways to increase your metabolism after 40

Something that's inevitable for most people, but can be stabilised.

Written by
Tori Crowther
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
January 16, 2024
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6 ways to increase your metabolism after 40
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There are many things in life to look forward to as we age, but a slowing metabolism isn’t typically one of them but it is something that’s inevitable for most people. In fact, a study from 2013 found that we increase by 0.5 to 1kg per year as a result [1].

But, there are plenty of things we can do to delay this slowing and stabilise our metabolism — and none of them is overly complicated or difficult to incorporate into daily life.

Read on to learn how to increase metabolism after 40.

What is metabolism?

Before we get into it, let’s look into what metabolism actually is. Your metabolism is a chemical process by which your body is turning food into energy — and it's a pretty complex one at that.

Metabolic rate essentially boils down to how easy or hard it is for someone to lose and gain weight. This is why many factors should be considered when we discuss weight loss.

The fact of the matter is, for some people, it’s genetically harder to lose or maintain a certain weight — and this often gets more difficult as we age. 

Metabolism can be broken down into a chemical process known as catabolism and anabolism. To put it simply, catabolism refers to the process that breaks down molecules and releases energy, whereas anabolism builds up molecules from smaller ones and requires energy. 

There are a few ways that your body burns energy (3 to be exact). These include your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the energy expenditure used for breaking down food (which is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF), and finally the energy you use during regular exercise.

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which this happens and how many calories your body needs to perform basic daily functions (we’re talking about breathing, pumping blood around your body, and repairing cells). Think of this as your resting metabolic rate. 

Next is your thermic effect of food (TEF), which refers to the amount of energy the digestive process uses.

Finally, is the energy expenditure from physical exercise (often referred to as spontaneous physical activity), including things like walking, strength training, resistance training, and interval training [2].

What determines your metabolic rate?

Although we understand the metabolic process, there is still one rather large mystery: why 2 people who eat the same and undertake the same exercise regimens will have varied metabolic rates.

The most notable factors that determine someone's metabolic rate are:

  • Your genes
  • Percentage of lean muscle
  • Fat storage
  • Age [3].

Hormone changes are also said to impact metabolism.

That’s not to say you can’t increase your metabolism, it just means your base levels will be different from those of other people.

This is why it's important to take all aspects of life into account and not compare yourself to other people. We’ll be talking about specifically how to increase metabolism and in turn, lose weight after 40, later on.

Why does metabolism decrease with age?

Our basal metabolic rate decreases with age. This is said to be because the volume of skeletal muscle decreases and the percentage of fat tissue increases, which decreases our basal metabolic rate [4].

Fat burns fewer calories than muscle, and if muscle is decreasing, then you’re not burning as many calories. And if you’re not burning all of the calories you’re consuming, these can be stored as fat. 

Essentially, you burn calories at a lower rate, in turn, making it harder to lose weight — even if you aren’t eating more than normal. This means that weight gain is easier and weight loss harder.

It’s also important to consider the role of testosterone when it comes to metabolism. Testosterone not only helps to build muscle, but it also helps break down fat in the body. It’s possible to increase testosterone, though, which is good news [4].

Why is it harder to lose weight after 40?

So, why 40? Well, the main reason is lean muscle mass. This lean muscle mass starts to decline around the age of 40 and is a completely normal part of ageing. People with increased muscle have a faster metabolism. As metabolism slows, weight loss can more difficult.

Not to mention that life can be busy and stressful, which can have a knock-on effect on your lifestyle.

This doesn’t mean you’re never going to lose weight again, or increase your metabolism, though. It just might take a different approach.

Is it possible to increase your metabolism after 40?

In short: it’s complicated, but yes. You can’t give yourself an entirely new BMR. But, there are definitely things you can do to keep your metabolic rate ticking along and slightly increase it, which in turn, can have a great impact on your overall health. 

The good news is that it’s not particularly difficult to help give your metabolism a boost. Simple and consistent changes can yield huge improvements to increase metabolism.

However, these changes must remain steady as part of a long-term plan to see benefits to your overall health. Rapid weight loss isn't a great approach here, and this won't help a slow metabolism.

What's the best way to approach weight loss?

Weight loss is something that should always be done carefully and thoughtfully; seeking medical help and advice where you need it. One study found that dietary habits, not smoking and steady exercise can help delay the ageing process in some people [5].

The good news? These changes aren't complicated; it's just about slotting them into your routine in a way that’s sustainable — we’re talking about keeping these habits up for the next few decades to maintain those energy levels as you age.

It can often be more helpful to reframe your thinking from losing weight to changing your daily habits and making different health decisions. 

Now, let's dive into how to increase metabolism after 40.

Diet

The first thing to look at is your dietary habits. Making sure you’re eating a balanced diet to keep you full between meals will contribute towards weight loss (if that is a goal) and increasing metabolism after 40 [6].

Sleep

Prolonged sleep deprivation isn't a recipe for success if you want to increase your metabolism after 40 — but it's a common problem.

But, a study from 2010 found that a staggering 30% of adults are getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night [7]. So, the takeaway here? Make sure you get enough shut-eye. Another positive is that enough quality sleep will help increase your energy to stay active.

Exercise

Finding an exercise routine you can fit around your schedule and that you enjoy is important to overall weight maintenance and keeping metabolically active.

Endurance exercise and weight training in particular can prevent metabolic disorders and increase muscle mass [2].

Stress

Stress is a word thrown around often, but we rarely stop to consider the impact it's actually having on our bodies. A slow metabolism after 40 induced by stress is commonly due to 2 reasons.

The first is cortisol-related and the second is behaviour-related weight gain [8].

During periods of stress, the hormone cortisol and adrenaline release glucose into your bloodstream — this is your body's natural response to what it perceives to be a threat (commonly known as the fight or flight response).

Once your body comes down from this stressful situation, your blood sugar drops and you might find yourself craving those sweet treats.

The second is behaviour-related calorie intake. When we are experiencing long periods of stress, we often opt for quicker, convenient foods, which isn't conducive to increasing metabolism.

That's where Pilot’s Weight Reset Shakes can come in handy during those instances you need to replenish quickly with a meal replacement, without the temptation of quick foods that are full of artificial sweeteners.

Plus, our shakes are filled with 20 vitamins and minerals as well as pre and probiotics, so you know you're getting your dietary essentials inside every shake.

The short of it is: less stress can equal a higher metabolic rate.

Alcohol intake

Alcohol consumption can actually impact your body's ability to metabolise and absorb nutrients [9].

Swapping your nightly red wine for soda water might not be as fun, but it can help contribute to your weight loss results and increase metabolism. And it helps you stay hydrated with plenty of water.

Seeking help if you need it

One of the most important aspects of any weight loss or lifestyle changes is seeking help if you need it — whether that’s controlling stress, incorporating more exercise, changing your diet as needed and finding ways to get enough sleep at night.

These small changes together can have a big impact on your overall health and there are plenty of ways to achieve them.

Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program is a great place to start if you're confused or overwhelmed, as it helps combines breakthrough modern medicine — which works to decrease your appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer — with community support from our medical team and health coaches, while also connecting you with a supportive community of like-minded men to help keep you motivated and accountable to your weight loss goals.

Image credit: Getty Images

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