Learn How to Increase Your Metabolism After 50

Learn critical tips and ways to increase your metabolism after 50—so you can focus on your quality of life and overall feelings of health and wellness. Boosting your metabolism after the age of 50 stems from healthy behaviors that can ultimately lead to improved quality of life and successful aging.

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Understanding How Metabolism Works

Metabolism is different for everyone—and is impacted by a number of variables, including your age, genetics, hormones, sleep patterns, diet and nutrition, and much more. The universal denominator, however, is that metabolism slows with aging.

So what is metabolism? Metabolism, in a nutshell, is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy—and during this process, calories in what you eat are combined with oxygen, releasing the energy for your body to function.

It doesn’t just take exercise or movement for your body to use energy. Rather, your body constantly requires energy on the cellular level—and your metabolism never stops. You need calories for your body to breathe, circulate blood flow, digest food, grow and repair cells, manage hormone levels, and regulate your overall body temperature. To effectively accomplish or sustain all of these tasks, your body needs a minimal amount of calories, known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

There is a range of factors that impact your metabolism:

  • Muscle Mass: It takes more energy—read: calories—to build and maintain muscle mass over fat. If you have more muscle mass, you likely have a faster metabolism which burns more calories.
  • Age: As you age, most seniors start to lose muscle mass. In turn, this slows down the metabolism.
  • Sex: Men have faster metabolisms than women, which is often correlated to more muscle mass, larger bones, and less body fat.
  • Genetics: You can’t change your genetics—and the genes you inherit play a large role, both in your muscle size and your ability to build muscle mass.
  • Physical Activity: Perhaps a bit self-explanatory, but when you engage in physical activities, your body burns more calories.
  • Smoking: Nicotine has an interesting effect on your metabolism—it speeds it up, causing you to burn more calories. For many people, quitting smoking can lead to weight gain. (However, the negative health implications of smoking far outweigh the extra weight).
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Ways to Increase Metabolism After 50

There are various ways that you can increase your metabolism after 50—but many of these suggestions might require you to change and adopt new healthy behaviors and practices in your day-to-day routine. Don’t be afraid of this evolution though: it’s one of the best ways to increase your metabolism after 50, uplevel your health, and prepare you for the next phase of your life.

Get Aerobic and Cardio Exercise

Aerobic and cardio exercise is important in all phases of life—but for seniors, here’s how to increase your metabolism after age 50. When you’re nearing retirement age, it’s best to focus on a combination of strength, aerobic, and cardio activity.

A quick note: Before you begin any new aerobic or cardio exercise programs, consult your medical professionals. Based on your personal health needs, you may need to make modifications or limit your activity levels.

For most healthy older adults, 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate aerobic activity weekly is a good benchmark. This can include a range of activities from a brisk walk to a quick swim. Here are some of the best aerobic and cardio activities to increase metabolism after 50:

  • Walking: One of the best forms of cardio for seniors, taking a walk is certainly something to add to your daily routine.
  • Cycling: You can use an outdoor bicycle or a stationary bike indoors. This type of exercise demands a lot of your quads and hamstrings, leading to increased blood flow and a boost to your heart and lung health. v
  • Swimming and Water Aerobics: Increase your overall strength and enhance balance by swimming or doing water aerobics. Being in the water offers a low-impact, low-weight bearing exercise—so it lessens the burden on your body while still giving you a good workout.
  • Dancing: Who doesn’t love dancing? There are a number of dance exercises to get you moving. Plus, it will improve your overall balance and coordination—and you’ll have a lot of fun doing it (the most important part!).
  • Tennis: For many seniors, tennis is a very popular sport. Tennis can increase your aerobic capacity, increase bone density, and increase overall strength. Plus, it’s a fun social sport you can add to your weekly schedule.

When you engage in aerobic or cardio exercise, you’ll help keep your muscles strong and maintain overall mobility. Exercise also helps lower the risk of falls and injuries from falls in seniors. Regular physical activity can also help protect your memory, reasoning, and cognitive thinking skills.

Additional benefits of aerobic or cardio exercise include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Healthy lung health
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Balance blood sugar and control weight
  • Lower your risk for heart disease

Build Muscle Mass

Strength training for older adults has a tremendous benefit, helping to enhance long-term health and wellness. When you participate in regular strength training exercises during your senior years, you can help prevent osteoporosis and frailty—while also feeling strong and healthy.

A quick note: Before getting started with weightlifting, consult your medical professionals. Although strength training can offer incredible benefits, make sure that you’re able to perform these exercises safely.

Best strength training exercises to increase metabolism after 50:

Focus on compound movements as these exercises work several muscle groups at once, leading to more comprehensive benefits. It’s important to remember to train your entire body to avoid imbalances and develop all of your muscle groups equally.

Here are a few of our favorite exercises if you’re over the age of 50:

  • Squats: A universally-loved exercise, squats strengthen your body and start to build muscle. Squats train your legs, glutes, abductors, and lower back. If you’re uncomfortable with holding weight on your body, you can also try the leg-press machine at the gym—a less strenuous exercise.
  • Bench Press: The bench press works your chest muscles, front deltoids, and triceps. Depending on your skill level, you can perform this movement with a chest press machine, on a bench with a barbell, or even just with some dumbbells on a bench.
  • Deadlift: A full-body exercise that you’ll feel everything, learning how to deadlift is a helpful way to work out your entire body. While it’ll strengthen most of your body, you’ll also feel it in your back, glutes, and hamstrings.
  • Barbell Row or Seated Row: These exercises are excellent for training your back, mid-back, and biceps. You can also perform machine rows for added stability.
  • Overhead Press: A great exercise that targets your upper body with a special focus on your shoulders and triceps in particular. You can perform the exercise standing or seated with a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, or a machine.

Whether you do these exercises at home with some free weights or head to your nearest gym and rely on the machines, you’ll feel the benefits and gain an excellent foundation. We recommend working out a few times a week—and supplementing extra days with cardio and aerobic exercises.

Some gyms also hold strength and conditioning classes designed for seniors. Check out your local gym classes and see if there’s one that’s the right fit for you.

Recover Properly After Exercise

Proper recovery after exercise is an absolutely vital element of increasing your metabolism after 50. But many seniors don’t properly recover and stretch their muscles enough, especially after a workout.

Here are a few ways to increase your metabolism after 50 and recover properly after exercise:

  • Cool down and stretch after every workout. After you turn 50, stretching isn’t optimal. Build stretching into your workout regimen and never skip it. You’ll reap the benefits in time.
  • Take time off between workouts. Taking a day off in between workouts gives your muscles time to recover—but as you age, you may need some additional recovery time. Listen to your body and decide if you need a little bit more of a break. How to determine if you’ve had enough rest? If you’re sore and it’s impacting your next workout, it may be a sign of not enough recovery and rest.
  • Refuel with proper nutrition. If you’re working out, it’s best to keep your protein intake high—so it can jumpstart muscle repair. And remember: Stay hydrated and fuel your body with plenty of whole foods that increase your metabolism after 50.

Drink Water

Hydration plays a powerful role in increasing your metabolism after the age of 50. Chances are, you need to be drinking more water to properly support your body. According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, here’s how much water you should be drinking:

  • 125 ounces (3.7 liters) for men.
  • 91 ounces (2.7 liters) for women.

Remember: Those numbers will vary for everyone. Depending on your size, natural metabolism, location, diet, and physical activity, your body may require more or less water.

The benefits of water are truly unparalleled. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Blood: By drinking enough water, it ensures that your blood maintains the right consistency to carry it throughout your body—to your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.
  • Digestive system: If you suffer from constipation or digestive challenges, water may be a factor. Stay hydrated and your digestion will feel the benefits.
  • Joints: Water helps to lubricate your joints and keep them working smoothly.
  • Kidneys: Drinking enough water can improve kidney function and prevent damage and disorders from occurring.
  • Skin: Water plays an enormous role in your skin health. For clear, vibrant skin, drinking H2O is very effective—almost as much as anti-aging creams.
  • Teeth: By drinking enough water, you’ll keep your mouth clean and lower your risk for bad bacteria and tooth decay.

Regulate Hormones and Reduce Stress

Your body’s hormones—and cortisol in particular—play a big role in metabolism and how reducing your stress levels can actually increase your metabolism.

Cortisol, a hormone that your adrenal glands produce and release, affects nearly every organ and tissue in your body. It helps regulate your body’s response to stress, controls your body’s use of fats, proteins, and carbs, suppresses inflammation, regulates blood sugar, and helps control your sleep cycle. Your body is consistently monitoring your cortisol levels to maintain homeostasis—however, when things go awry, it can cause a number of health challenges.

To keep your stress levels low and your metabolism high, make sure you incorporate stress-relieving activities into your daily routine:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation and mindfulness (try the Calm or Headspace app!)
  • Listening to music
  • Counseling or therapy

Get Quality Sleep

Quality sleep has a powerful role in increasing your metabolism after 50 and ensuring that your brain and overall body health stays optimal.

When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, it has a dramatic impact on your overall health. Lack of sleep actually changes how our bodies metabolize fat and alters hormones that regulate hunger and fullness. When you don’t sleep well, it slows your body from burning fat and affects glucose and insulin levels.

To elevate your sleep routine and make sure that you’re giving the body the rest it needs, consider these tips:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Consistency is key. Set an alarm to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. This has a massive impact on your overall sleep quality.
  • Make your bedroom a quiet space. Eliminate distractions and design your bedroom to be a relaxing oasis. If it’s bright or loud, consider blackout curtains or a white noise machine to keep the peace.
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Keep the TV and the electronics in another room. By setting boundaries around how you spend time in your bedroom, you’ll train your body and mind to associate the space with peace, rest, and relaxation.
  • Don’t nap too much! If you opt for an occasional nap, make sure it doesn’t last too long—and impact your nighttime sleep.
  • Listen to relaxing music. Turn on some acoustic tunes or classical music for a quiet wind-down routine.
  • Quell anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety or nervous thoughts, spend some time quieting your mind. That might include talking with your spouse, partner, or an old friend. Or try journaling for 10–15 minutes before bed.
  • Meditate nightly. Meditation has the power to rewire your brain and help you create new habits. Try a nightly meditation routine to calm your mind and bring peace to your body.
  • Avoid caffeine. If you struggle to fall asleep, consider your caffeine impact. Do you reach for a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up? If yes, this is a good time to break this habit and see if it improves your sleep quality.

Eat Healthy Small Meals Often Throughout the Day

Eating small, regular meals throughout the day can help increase your metabolism after 50 and nourish your body. Although it may feel contrary to public belief, eating often can actually help you lose weight.

Why? Well, because when you opt for a large meal with several hours in between, your metabolism actually slows down. But when you have a small meal or snack every three to four hours, your metabolism continues working—so you burn more calories over the course of the day.

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Foods to Increase Metabolism After 50

Curating a healthy diet as you age is one of the best gifts you can give your body, mind, and spirit. To uplevel your health, here are some of the best foods that increase metabolism after 50 you can add to your diet.


Fiber is one of the hardest working nutrients available—and it has a truly incredible effect on your body’s metabolism. A high-fiber diet helps lower inflammation, promotes healthy gut microbes, and reduces the risk of heart disease.

How does fiber kickstart your metabolism? Because fiber is the indigestible part of the carbohydrate, your body can’t digest it—but it attempts to, resulting in a metabolic boost as your body burns calories in the process.

According to research, women should consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily; men, on the other hand, should consume 38 grams. However, the traditional American diet often leaves our bodies without enough fiber: most adults in the U.S. only consume around 10 grams of fiber each day. Without fiber, our bodies feel hungry, which can lead to overeating.

The best sources of natural fiber include:

  • Chia seeds: A tablespoon of chia seeds contains 6g of fiber—plus protein and skin-enhancing omega 3s. It’s easy to add chia seeds to your daily routine. Sprinkle them on your morning oatmeal or bake them into your zucchini bread.
  • Eat the skins of fruits and vegetables. Skip the extra work of peeling fruits and veggies and just start chopping. The skin is not only where the fiber lives—but you’ll also gain extra nutrients by ingesting the skin of fruits and veggies.
    • The best fruits and vegetables to consume with skin-on include: berries, cherries, grapes, pears, peaches, plums, apples, apricots, kiwis, potatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and zucchinis.
    • Avoid eating the skins of pumpkins and winter squashes (the skin can be tough and difficult to chew), tropical fruits (such as pineapples, papayas, mangos, bananas, and melons), and avocados, garlic, and onions.
  • Opt for brown rice over white rice. This is a simple adjustment to up your fiber intake.
  • Kidney, garbanzo, and other beans. Use whole grains and legumes in your main meal or in your salad for an extra fiber boost.


One of the easiest ways to increase your metabolism after 50 is to eat plenty of protein. Thanks to a mechanism called the thermic effect of food (TEF), eating causes extra calories to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients of your meal.

Protein, for example, causes the highest rise in TEF, increasing your metabolic rate by 15 to 30% according to research. Eating protein also helps you feel more full, preventing you from overeating.

What’s the best way to add protein to your diet? Here are some of the best protein-rich foods that increase metabolism after 50:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Omega 3

Lastly, recent research is finding that omega-3s in fish oil may play an important role in increasing metabolism. By incorporating fish oil into your diet, you may find an increase in your metabolic rate.

To boost your metabolism through the use of omega-3 fatty acids, you can purchase fish oil capsules and add them to your daily routine.

Foods that increase metabolism after 50 and are rich with omega-3 include:

  • Fish and seafood, particularly cold-water fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines
  • Nuts and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts
  • Plant oils, such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil

Green Tea and Coffee

It’s not just what you eat—but what you drink can have a powerful impact on your metabolism. Green tea and coffee can assist your body in increasing metabolism but beware: caffeine can also disrupt sleep patterns, so it’s best to pay attention to your body and see what works best for you.

Several studies noted that people who consumed at least 270 mg of caffeine each day—the equivalent of about 3 cups of coffee—burned up to an extra 100 calories each day.

If you’re more of a tea person, adding oolong or matcha green tea to your daily routines can boost your metabolic rate. Tea contains health-boosting compounds called catechins. These compounds can work in tandem with caffeine to have a positive effect on your body’s metabolism.

Although adding tea or coffee to your daily routine can be a great way to boost your metabolism, pay attention to feelings of anxiety or difficulties sleeping. If you end up feeling too restless and distracted with the uplevel in caffeine, it’s best to cut down a bit and see if you notice an improvement in how you feel.

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Increase Metabolism After 50 and Focus on Quality of Life

How you increase your metabolism after 50 typically includes behaviors that will not only improve your metabolic processes—but you’ll also notice an overall improvement in your quality of life. By eating a nutrient-rich diet, prioritizing exercise, and making sure you’re getting the rest you need, you’ll notice a positive impact on other aspects of your health and wellness.

As you learn how to increase your metabolic rate after 50, remember that many of these methods can be done socially. So give your friends a call and ask them to partake in these activities with you—maybe a nature walk, a yoga class, or cooking a nutritious meal together (don’t forget to prioritize fiber, protein, and omega-3s!).

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