Thanksgiving is a week from tomorrow and some Iowans may need to start ramping up their exercise programs now or they’ll face a long winter of packing on pounds. Nutritionist Chris Mohr says Iowans who find themselves struggling to lose the same ten or 15 pounds may just have to face that they’re getting older and need to work harder.

“As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, but fortunately, there is a lot you can do to change that,” Mohr says. “One of those things is exercise regularly and not just exercise, but more specifically, do resistance exercise.” When it comes to cardio workouts, slow walking does little-to-nothing when the workout is done.

Shorter, more intense activity, like jumping rope and sprinting, bumps up the metabolism for several hours after the workout is over. A recent study found up to 60-percent of Iowans are overweight. Mohr says a slower metabolism may mean a drop in muscle mass — as those muscles are replaced with flab.

“Normally, if you don’t do anything, we start losing muscle mass at about the age of 40,” he says. “It could be as high as one-percent a year which is a pretty good amount of muscle mass to lose and muscle mass specifically drives metabolism. The more we can maintain as we age, the better.”

Mohr says for every pound of muscle, research shows there is about a nine-calorie per day increase in metabolism. He says Iowans should eat foods that turn on your body’s fat-burning enzymes. “Don’t overthink nutrition, don’t overthink exercise,” he says. “There’s so much conflicting information out there. What we need to do is go back to the basics. We know the basic nutrition principals. We know that fruit and vegetables are amazing for you. We know that lean protein like fish and chicken is great for you. Eat those kinds of things regularly.”

Finally, don’t starve yourself. Mohr says, in fact, eat more often. When you eat, your metabolism increases in order to digest and use the food. However, that doesn’t mean every meal should be like a Thanksgiving dinner. He suggests smaller, more frequent meals instead of several large meals in a day’s time.