When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, metabolism plays a huge role. Research shows that, on average, as people age we experience a 2- to 4-percent decline in our resting metabolic rate per decade after the age of 25. So how are we expected to maintain a healthy weight with those kind of numbers stacked against us?

I will be the first to tell you that there is no magic pill that you can take to keep your metabolism up without doing harm to your body, and if you are like me you want to keep your body as fit and healthy as you can. So what's the key to increasing your metabolism? It's actually a combination of diet and exercise. Right off the bat we all have limiting factors when dealing with metabolism, genetics, sex, body size and hormone levels. It's a very uneven playing field, so some people will find it easier to increase their metabolism while others will make slower progress. The important thing is that we can all increase our metabolism in a healthy way.

Good news

There is good news about a decreasing metabolism as we age. It is not really age related. Instead it is more lifestyle related. On increasing metabolismaverage we lose one pound of muscle every two years past the age of 25. It is this muscle loss that slows our metabolic rate. At rest one pound of muscle burns 50 calories in a 24 hour period. That's a lot for a resting muscle. Now just imagine that same muscle at work!

So the first thing that we need to do is increase our lean muscle mass. Muscle mass is built by lifting weights; there is no other way around it. If you don't currently work out then start. There are many benefits from weight training and increasing your metabolism is just one of them. Weight training also naturally increases your growth hormone and testosterone levels which increases your metabolism even more. So if you are not familiar with weight training I recommend getting an experienced personal trainer and begin. A good trainer will not only make sure you are working out properly but also teach you how to perform the exercises so you can begin working out on your own if you choose to.

Diet equally important

Diet plays an equally important role in increasing your metabolism. We have all heard that it is best to eat five or six small meals per day instead of two or three large ones, but do you know why? It's all about hormone levels. Our body is an instrument of survival, it does not know that we can go to the store and buy food whenever we want. When we go without food for any length of time our body goes into survival mode, releasing cortisol. During these times without food our body begins using muscle as energy and keeps all the fat it can for a longer life span in this “survival” situation.

So to avoid this survival mode that our body wants to engage, try to eat something every three to four hours. If you want to increase your metabolism to help keep body fat down, then you can't just eat a doughnut every three hours, you have to make smart choices. There are foods that additionally help increase your metabolism. These foods include chili peppers, lean proteins, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and foods rich in iron. Drinking green tea has also been shown to increase metabolism.

It's time to take control of your metabolism. Don't let age dictate weight loss. By following these simple steps you can drop body fat and feel better.

CDC – Physical Activity – Arthritis Relief, (2011) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 30, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/why/

Chandler, R.M., H.K. Byrne, J.G. Patterson, and J.L. Ivy. 1994. Dietary supplements affect the anabolic hormones after weight-training exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 76:839-845

Jason L. Talanian, Stuart D. R. Galloway, George J. F. Heigenhauser, Arend Bonen , Lawrence L. Spriet

Journal of Applied PhysiologyPublished 1 April 2007Vol. 102no. 1439-1447