It crept up on me! I gained 15 pounds without any real change in my diet. That was around my mid 40s and what I didn’t know then, but am excited to present to you in this series, is that I had hit that age where my metabolism just decided to slow down. Since we have to eat something every day, Part One of How to Kick Start Your Metabolism is what to eat.

How NOT to Kick Start Your Metabolism

So how does 15 pounds creep up on you? I ignored the signs my body was giving me. Without a scale at the time, I wasn’t weighing regularly, that’s how. I noticed my clothes fitting differently, but it didn’t happen overnight so I just sized up or wore stretchier pants. Then one day I weighed and I was shocked!

It had been years since I had been on any formal diet with last diet being the normal paradigm of eating less and exercising more. Each day I ate 1400 carefully and meticulously counted calories . My workouts were hardcore Jillian Michaels workouts that burned around 300-400 calories. In essence, I was consuming only 1000 calories. So, yeah, I lost weight but I also lost my hair.

What I didn’t know was that my body was being stressed due to the lack of calories and hard workouts. I will talk more about stress later in this series and explain why this happened, but today I want to focus on the calories part.

Midlife Weight Loss for Women over 40

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How Many Calories to Kick Start Metabolism?

In order to have your metabolism functioning at peak capacity, you need to eat plenty of food so your body can perform it’s usual activities at rest without feeling like it’s starving. Most women need 1400 calories and even more than that with daily workouts. (See…I was way undereating!)

What NOT to Eat

When I was counting calories, I would eat toast or oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, lettuce with only lemon juice on it and sliced turkey for lunch, I avoided fat like the plague and ate low-fat cheese, all so I could eat ice cream at night. It’s no wonder I was also losing my hair at the time.

This eating plan certainly fit the plan we’ve all been brainwashed into following: low-fat and high grain. I was losing my hair because it was unhealthy for me, and probably is for you, too. Here’s the big secret – if you’re over 40, you need fat but you don’t need grains.

Doctors say grains are important because they believe as I do, that fiber is very important to stave off heart disease. Grains, however, are very dense in carbohydrates and glucose molecules and eating them causes an overload of blood glucose which leads to insulin resistance (and therefore ALL lifestyle related diseases.) Vegetables, however, provide all the fiber you need without the extra glucose and TONS more nutrients.

What TO Eat

Once you hit 40, this is what your body actually needs:

  • More healthy fat and proteins, not less
  • Small amounts of starchy carbs at one meal a day such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash
  • A variety of plants in the form of fruits (minimal), vegetables (maximal – is that a word?), nuts and greens
  • Animal proteins from well raised cows, lamb, chickens and other poultry plus wild-caught fish/seafood and eggs

What your body doesn’t need:

  • Grains including wheat, barley, rice, corn and even ancient grains like quinoa.*
  • Sugar in all its many forms (hidden in so many things so read labels)
  • Processed foods, they are typically full of sugar and grains, even healthyish versions
  • Alcohol – don’t shoot the messenger but your body actually views alcohol as a toxin. It metabolizes it first so what you eat with a cocktail or glass of wine will turn directly to fat and triglycerides. I’m not a teetotaler, but I avoid most of the time for this reason. Try going off of it for a full week or more then try it. You may find how you feel isn’t worth it.

Sample Meals to Maximize Metabolism

My philosophy is to crowd out rather than cut out the things that don’t serve you well. Here are a few sample meals that I eat to see what I mean:

  • Breakfast: 3 fried eggs with spinach and avocado. Coffee or tea with unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • Lunch: A giant Cobb salad with plenty of no sugar vinaigrette (Ask about sugar or take your own when dining out.)
  • Dinner: A steak with garlic herb butter, a small serving of roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus

These types of meals will leave you so satisfied that dessert and snacking won’t even be a temptation. If you just need a little something, have a single square of 70% or darker chocolate. My favorite soy-free brand is Theo, especially the toasted coconut variety!

*Occasionally I have organic white basmati or jasmine rice but I actually view rice as a treat and evaluate how I feel and what my overall eating patterns have been before eating it. Very rarely I will have oatmeal or quinoa but I try and make sure they are sprouted which is harder to find but much easier to digest. I don’t eat gluten at all, however, and don’t recommend it to any of my clients.

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