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If you’re over 40 and struggling with your weight, I don’t have to tell you that your metabolism is slowing down. Our calorie converting engines are at their highest until we reach 20, and then they gradually slow as we age.

The main reason for the deceleration is simple: We lose muscle and we decrease our levels of physical activity. This occurs mostly because life takes over and zaps us of our energy. I don’t know about you, but I crave carbs and sugar when I am tired, and sugar becomes a source of fun when everything else gets busy. But this only adds to the problem: We turn ourselves into metabolic disasters. Too many carbs and too little activity result in a slow metabolism and—you know where this is going—an excess of body fat.

The goods news is that you have far more control over this process than you think. Gaining weight as you age really is avoidable. There are lots of things you can do to turn your sleeping metabolism into a fat-melting fireball. Here are a few to get you started.

1. Drink a whey protein shake every day for breakfast and boost your metabolism by 25%.
This is one of the best things you can do to give their metabolism a boost. It not only nourishes the body, but it also allows you to begin losing weight while you’re learning how to eat for fat loss. Shakes make breakfast easy. The calories that you save by drinking one when you wake up allow a cushion for those food slips-ups that happen to all of us, usually later in the day. Some celebrities do this to maintain their hard-earned physiques.

Caution: Not all protein shakes are created equal. Get familiar with labels, and look for low-carb and low-fat whey proteins with almost no sugar. Whey protein is the best option, as soy or milk-based proteins are inferior sources that don’t boost your energy-burning capabilities in the same way.

Next: Another good reason to lift weights
2. Fire up your metabolic engine through exercise.

We eat seven days a week, so we need to move seven days a week. Try to squeeze in moderate exercise for one hour every day. You can also use pedometer to track your steps as you make it a goal to reach 10,000 steps a day, every day. For the ultimate metabolic boost, schedule a weight-lifting session 2-3 times a week in which you train your whole body using a circuit-style workout. Choose one workout a week where you increase your weights to build muscle (you can consult with a trainer to find what weight levels work best for you). Keep in mind that you don't want to push yourself to the point of injury, so lighten up or stop at the first sign of pain.

Our bodies are losing muscle every day, so we need to counterbalance this by trying to build muscle. Ladies, don’t be afraid: You won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder, as it’s almost impossible at this stage for you to become bulky. If you're convinced you’re gaining weight, take a hard look at what you’re eating. That’s often where the problem lies.

Muscle burns calories all day long and that is exactly what we need. Lifting weights will tighten and tone your body, and, as an added bonus, will strengthen your bones. These metabolic-boosting workouts can be done at home and should only take you about 30 minutes.

3. Remember to eat your greens.
Greens offset the high-calorie foods we eat and kill cravings before they can develop. Digesting leafy green vegetables makes your body work harder and causes your metabolism to speed up. Not eating enough vegetables every day is one of biggest mistakes people make because this can cause them to overeat.

Next: Which type of protein is best for burning fat
4."Clean" protein can help you get lean.
"Clean" means low in fat (under 5-7 grams per serving). Choosing the highest quality proteins will allow our bodies to use them as energy rather than store them on our hips and thighs. The best sources of clean, lean proteins for women are protein shakes, egg whites, all fish and seafood, turkey breast, nonfat cottage cheese, and high-quality protein bars that have at least 15 grams of protein (watch out for bars with excessive sugar and sodium). These are excellent ways to nourish our bodies and replace lost nutrients.

High-fat proteins will have the opposite effect, and will cause our bodies to store fat. Your body will not burn stored fat if you continue to give it high-fat foods, regardless of how much you exercise. Your goal is to feed the muscle and starve the fat, causing some of those extra pounds to melt away.

5. Fiber helps you stay full.
You should be eating 25-30 grams of fiber every day. This is the key to staying full so you won’t be tempted to graze. Fiber will also keep your blood sugar in check. Always aim for veggies whenever you can, and remember 10 half-cup servings of vegetables is the daily goal. If you struggle to get enough fiber, get some calorie-free fiber packets and add them to your water to help you with portion control and regularity. Konjac fiber is one of the best sources of fiber and will help balance your hormones.

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