How Moms over 35 can master their metabolism
Everyone knows that when we reach our 30’s, our metabolism can start to slow down. In our 40’s, our hormones begin to change as we get closer to peri-menopause.
And any mom will tell you that when a woman gets pregnant and gives birth – there is some expected weight gain and the unpredictable hormonal rollercoaster.
Now, things get really interesting when you mix all of the above. Having babies after age 35 can make bouncing back after birth a challenge to say the least.
I speak from experience, and perhaps you can relate.
You diet more than ever, but can’t lose weight – exercise regularly, but still feel flabby. Your brain gets foggy and your moods swing erratically no matter what you try to do to control them. And your once perfectly fitting clothes are snug and you hate how they feel on you.
Like most of us moms, you probably had a “go-to stay-slim” formula that you implemented all your life (something like regular walks or skipping dessert on week-days), that formula no longer seems to work – not even close…
Even if you never had problems maintaining your weight in your 20s or early 30s, you’re probably not ready for this. Did you know your metabolism slows by 5 percent each decade? It does. In other words, to put that into calorie spending terms: Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories a day at 35 and 200 fewer at 45.
Do nothing, and you’ll never drop that baby bulge, setting yourself up to gain an additional eight to 12 pounds a year.
Then we go and make matters worse, following the newest crash diet, which ultimately sabotages our calorie-burning potential. Couple that with time wasted on ineffective workouts and weight loss gimmicks, and it is a recipe for extreme frustration.
Don’t worry mama, I’ve got your back…
Although there are no magic bullets, there’s plenty you can do to boost your metabolism as you cruise through your 30’s, 40’s, and beyond – even with the kids in tow.
What affects your metabolic rate?
There many things (so many) that can affect how fast (or slow) your metabolism works.
First, let’s talk about the big metabolism hormone.
You know I love talking about hormones, and I could write a whole article just on this – but I’ll keep it concise for the moment.
Your master metabolic hormone is your thyroid hormone. The thyroid is a gland at the front of your throat that releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is, the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.
But here’s the catch, if you have too much thyroid hormone, your body will create more reverse thyroid hormone (RT3) – which puts the breaks on your metabolism!
Things like stress, food sensitivities, gut imbalances and even childrearing can affect how your thyroid hormones work. It’s a good idea to get a full thyroid panel run if you are experiencing symptoms of metabolic slowdown (Fatigue, cold intolerance, weight loss resistance, hair loss, mood issues).
Of course, in addition to thyroid, many other hormones can affect your metabolism – estrogen, insulin, testosterone, and cortisol to name a few.
But hormones are not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.
Body Composition is a biggie here.
Sadly, the higher percentage of fat you have on your body, the slower you will burn it.
As you can imagine, moving muscles need more energy than fat does. So, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy your body burns, and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you!
So, while non-stop cardio may have worked in your 20’s, as we age, weights will become our metabolic friends.
Steady state aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to allow them to move, so you get a metabolic bump while you are working out. But again, this is only temporary.
The cool thing about resistance training is that you not only get a boost to your metabolism during your workout, but your metabolism stays upregulated for many hours after!
One cardio exception is sprints. Sprinting will actually give you a metabolic boost, similar to weight training. Sprinting is also mom friendly, because you can complete a sprint workout in under 15 minutes. You can sprint anywhere – on a stationary bike or rebounder for low impact – or go all out and pound the pavement with your stroller (Paxton’s preferred method).
On the same note, you don’t need to hit the gym to get resistance training – your bodyweight and gravity are great tools to start with, and for added resistance, pick up that bundle of joy!! (I used to love using baby Paxton as my “weight” for overhead presses, chest presses and squats. Plus, he got quite the kick out of it as well.
The types of foods you eat, not just the calories they contain, are important to your metabolism. Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF). (Pretty cool to know that eating and digesting actually burns calories!)
You can use this to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently. All macronutrients (fats, carbs and proteins) increase your metabolism by a small percentage – but protein gives you significantly more burn for the bite.
Fats, for example, increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.
Mind Body Metabolism
Don’t forget the mind-body connection.
There is plenty of research that shows the significant influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate. Sex hormone imbalances, adrenal dysfunction, GI issues, and sub-par detoxification can all effect metabolism.
In other words, mastering your metabolism needs to be a holistic undertaking.
Ready for a metabolic meal? How about cooking up a metabolism boosting clean protein dinner? Check out my recipe below for a delicious and simple metabolism revving recipe!
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Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (organic boneless, skinless) Substitute Tofu for my veggie mamas!
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
This goes amazing with cauliflower rice and asparagus
Serve & enjoy!
Bonus Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
** If using Tofu in place of chicken, I recommend marinating the tofu with the oil, lemon and spices for 30 minutes before arranging in the roasting pan. One block of tofu cut into 4 slices can work well in this recipe