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11 Worst Things Boomers Can Do to Their Metabolism

Are you killing your metabolism? Here are habits to avoid.

Losing weight isn't easy for people of any age, and it can be incredibly challenging over age 60. That's partly because the metabolism naturally slows a bit each year after that age—and partly because you may be using junk advice dispatched by decades of lousy diet science. According to the latest research, some proven rules exist to keep yourself healthy while effectively dropping unwanted pounds. These are the ten things boomers should never do to their metabolism when trying to lose weight.

Don't Starve Yourself


Science—and many failed dieters—have proved the point: Starvation diets don't work. Severely restricting the amount of calories you consume can actually slow down your metabolism. Your body can go into "starvation mode," actually burning fewer calories in an attempt to preserve your body composition. What's more, depriving yourself of food can result in the loss of essential nutrients and lean muscle, putting yourself at risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. 

Don't Eat Too Many Calories


Although you shouldn't starve yourself, it's important not to overeat either. What's the proper balance? According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, after age 60, if you're not active, you should aim to consume 1,600 calories per day. If you're moderately active (meaning you intentionally exercise or do some brisk walking every day), you should go for 1,800 calories, and if you're active (meaning you walk more than 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 miles an hour in addition to your regular activities), aim for 2,000 calories daily.  

Don't Avoid Protein


Not consuming enough protein—either through a starvation diet or a fad regimen—can really undermine your efforts at weight loss. Protein is essential for preserving muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat. Protein also burns fat while you digest it—more than any other food—increasing your overall metabolic rate by 15% to 30%.

Stop Moving


Being sedentary can also cause you to lose muscle mass, lowering your metabolism. The latest science indicates that our metabolisms slow about 1% a year after age 60, making physical exercise especially important. Experts including the American Heart Association recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week—such as brisk walking—supplemented by two sessions of strength training to maintain muscle mass. 

Avoid Strength Training


Those two strength training sessions are especially important when you hit middle age and beyond. Avoiding resistance exercises—whether they're with weights, bands, or your own body weight—can lead to muscle and bone loss, slowing your metabolism. 

Don't Skip Water


Staying well-hydrated is important to several metabolic processes, including digestion and energy production. Research shows that drinking half a liter of water can increase your resting metabolism by 24% for about an hour. 

Don't Ignore Your Blood Sugar


Older people are more prone to type 2 diabetes, in which the body processes blood sugar less efficiently or stops processing it altogether. A key way to avoid the condition is to avoid blood sugar spikes, which are often caused by simple carbs, baked goods, processed foods, and fast food. Eat more whole foods, particularly those that are fiber-rich, instead. 

Don't Overindulge in Alcohol


Not only does alcohol slow your metabolism, it adds calories to your diet that are absolutely nutrient-free, increasing your chances of weight gain. Experts advise drinking only in moderation, meaning no more than two daily drinks for women and one for men. 

Don't Go Colorless


Aim for a diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables from across the color spectrum: Broccoli, kale, and berries are high in fiber (which is associated with a reduced cancer risk) and flavonols (which may benefit the brain and lower the risk of dementia). 

Don't Ignore Stress


Chill out: Chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances that slow your metabolism and boost your appetite.

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Don't De-Prioritize Sleep


Not sleeping enough, or getting poor-quality sleep, can disrupt the way your body regulates hormones and slow your metabolism, according to research. Regularly sleeping fewer than seven hours a night is associated with numerous negative health implications, like weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says.

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