This week’s question was from Donna:
“What about metabolism? What can be done to work towards a better metabolism”
Donna’s question was directed towards the wiser generations (“folks moving toward the backside of 50”) and I think Harry Rosen has the best answer:
Eat real food.
Harry Rosen dines out every night in some of the finest restaurants in Manhattan. A nice dinner is his therapy. Harry Rosen is 103, but he usually tells people he’s 90.
He says “If I tell them my real age, it becomes the whole subject of conversation and makes it look like I’m looking for attention, which I’m not.”
For Harry Rosen, and for many people, food bring joys. If you eat right, you feel good. Not just while you’re eating, but all the time. Your car doesn’t need to take a nap every time you fill up the gas tank and you shouldn’t either.
Harry Rosen always has fish but you don’t have to eat fish from the finest restaurants in Manhattan to eat well.
Real food tastes better. A healthy diet is a healthy diet. Eat lots of vegetables. Eat high quality animal products (wild caught fish, grass fed beef, eggs, soups). The only thing that changes as you get older is the amount of food, not the type.
Metabolism (the rate you burn energy) does slow down as you get older, but it shouldn’t change your food choices, just your portion sizes.
Decreasing stress and lowering blood sugar won’t necessarily increase the rate you burn calories, but decreasing stress and lowering blood sugar are the best steps for improving body composition at any age.
Stress causes a rise in blood sugar and sugar in food causes a rise in blood sugar. Your body burns blood sugar before anything else. High blood sugar is toxic, so burning blood sugar isn’t just easier, it’s necessary for survival. As blood sugar levels drop, your body will start releasing fat for fuel.
The more your body burns fat, the better it becomes at burning fat. If your body runs on sugar all the time (because there is a constant supply in your diet), it starts becoming less efficient at burning fat. Carbs are the simplest macro-nutrient to judge adequate amounts. If you’re always hungry and putting on weight, you’re eating too many carbs and not enough fat and protein.
Getting blood sugar, stress, and inflammation under control usually improves body composition for about 75% of the population. If lowering stress, blood sugar, and inflammation doesn’t help, a check of hormone levels might. Hormone levels are another thing that tends to fluctuate as we get older. Improving your diet will help normalize hormone levels but additional treatment may sometimes be required.
Metabolism, or basal metabolic rate, or resting metabolic rate, gets a lot of play from food and exercise advertisers. A food or exercise routine that raises metabolic rate offers the holy grail – eat this food or do this routine and you’ll “burn fat while you sleep.”
Harry Rosen doesn’t worry about his metabolism. Move enough everyday to stay capable and eat enough food to support your movement. Eat real food, watch the carbs, and enjoy your dinner!
- Picture of Harry Rosen by Dave Sanders for The New York Times
- You can read Corey Kilgannon’s New York Times’ article on Harry Rosen here.
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