It is a question that is interesting and at the same time frustrating for some of us. Why does your metabolism slow as you age?
As you will find out as you read this article, there is no simple answer to this. In fact, there are multiple reasons that your metabolism could slow down. And we will be sure to cover them here.
One thing that we can be sure of is that as we age, people seem to think that our metabolism just tanks out of nowhere. In reality, years of bad choices end up catching up to us.
You will be surprised with the findings.
What is your metabolism?
Your metabolism is the process that occurs in your body in order to break down nutrients. In simple terms, it determines how many calories your body burns on any given day.
The interesting thing about your metabolism is that it is unique to you. Every single person on the planet has a different metabolism. Which is why I never believed in a one size fits all diet plan.
We understand what metabolism is, but how can you dial in your metabolism? It starts with learning how to calculate your maintenance calories. This is essentially the process of learning your metabolism and seeing how much it can burn in a given day.
The process looks like this:
- Download MyFitnessPal and get a Digital Kitchen Scale.
- Track every calorie that you eat for 2 weeks
- Weigh yourself before and after.
- If you gained weight, you are eating at a caloric surplus. If you lost weight, you are eating at a caloric deficit. Did your weight stay the same? That is your maintenance calorie number. Or your metabolism baseline.
If you are eating at a caloric surplus or deficit, you can re-adjust your caloric intake until you don’t lose or gain weight for a week. That will give you your maintenance calorie number.
It has only been in recent years that we have been able to accurately determine how many calories we burn. If we wanted to lose weight before the 21st century, we would just have to “eat healthy” and hope for the best.
Now we can essentially eat whatever we want, as long as the portions are appropriate and the total calories fall into our range.
Why does your metabolism slow as you age?
Plenty of people seem to think that your metabolism slows as you age. But according to this Harvard study, it doesn’t really work like that. Surprisingly, your metabolism peaks at about 1 years old. This is of course in proportion to your body size.
From 1 years old to 20 years old, your metabolism steadily declines as you grow in size.
The most surprising find of the study is that from ages 20-60, there is no evidence of decline in the effectiveness of your metabolism. This goes against conventional wisdom of pretty much everyone you talk to. Essentially, this is one of the oldest bro science myths around.
After age 60, your metabolism declines by an average of .7% per year.
So what can this all tell us? My biggest takeaway from the findings is that people have been using a slowing metabolism as an excuse for their weight gain for years.
Here is the truth. When you eat at a caloric surplus, you will gain weight. And since everyone has a different metabolism, you can be sure that some people will be in a caloric surplus at a lower caloric intake than others.
Now what can happen is even a small caloric surplus catches up to you before you know it. In my article, how do people get fat without noticing, I touched on the idea that weight gain never happens overnight. It happens due to years of bad choices.
This is what it is all about. Success and failures are usually gradual. And gaining weight takes almost no effort. This is why people struggle to lose weight.
Why does your metabolism slow as you age? Knowing what we know now, it is all just part of your bodily functions. But just remember that from age 20-60, there is no change in your metabolism.
How to counteract your slowing metabolism
It’s time for some hard truth. If you are between the ages of 20-60 and you are gaining weight, it’s not because your metabolism is slowing down. It is because you are eating too much. Also known as being in a caloric surplus.
Life is all about making the right choices, and choosing to eat healthy is going to be your best bet. And no, there is no secret formula to jumpstart your metabolism. It doesn’t work like that.
Once you realize that your body is a simple machine that processes calories, you will realize that you can control it.
Here are the 2 things to takeaway from all this. If you want to gain weight, eat at a caloric surplus. If you want to lose weight, eat at a caloric deficit. And how do you know what a surplus or deficit is for you?
If you clicked on the how to calculate your maintenance calories article from the first section, you know the formula. And once you know your maintenance calories, you can eat at a deficit or surplus based on that number.
But don’t stop there. Working out is also extremely important. Hitting the gym is going to ensure that you lose fat, gain muscle, and keep your bones strong.
Knowledge is what is going to help you through this situation. Too many people go through life not knowing about their body. And of course believing that your metabolism is a gradual slow down through your life.
That isn’t the way that it works, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you will be.
Main Point: Why does your metabolism slow as you age?
Conventional wisdom tells us that our metabolism gradually slows as we age. But it turns out, that type of thinking is false. The hard truth is that bad choices lead to weight gain over multiple years.
You learned that from age 20-60, there is essentially no change in your body’s ability to burn calories. This may be a shock to you. But this can also be a great excuse to learn more about your body and prepare for the next chapter in your life.
Learning what your maintenance calories are is the best thing that you can do for your future. Once you have those figured out, you can choose to eat at a caloric deficit or surplus, depending on your goals.
We also cannot forget that it’s not all just about eating right. When you combine eating right with a good workout routine, then you will be unstoppable when it comes to health.
If there is one main point that I can leave with you, it’s that if you are gaining weight, and you are between the ages of 20-60, it is not because your metabolism is slowing. It is because you are making bad choices in your nutrition and activity levels.
Don’t fall victim to the processes of your own body. Embrace them, learn from them, and take advantage of them. You will be happy you did.