One of the biggest ailments many people experience as they age is a slower metabolism.
You have probably heard the “I can’t eat like I used to” complain from time to time from friends or family members. However, a new study in the journal Science found that before age 60, metabolism may not slow down as much as previously thought. In fact, it remains fairly stable between the ages of 20 and 60 and only slows down slightly after that.
In many ways, this is exciting news – we are not powerless over our slowing metabolism. But a better understanding of what metabolism is, how it works, and lifestyle tweaks you can make to speed it up can only help keep unwanted pounds off as you age. Here is everything you need to know.
What is Metabolism Exactly?
Everyone has a metabolism and it helps keep us alive.
“Metabolism are the chemical reactions in the body that convert food into energy,” says Emily L. Doctor, DNP, Nurse with NYU Langone’s weight management program. “Our body needs this energy to do everything from movement to thinking to growing.”
In particular, there are a number of proteins in our body that control the chemical reactions of metabolism and several hormones that help control the speed and direction of metabolism. “Thyroxine, for example, is a hormone made and released by the thyroid gland,” says Doktor. “Thyroxine plays a key role in how quickly or slowly the chemical reactions of the metabolism take place.”
What does a “slow” metabolism mean?
There are many factors that affect how fast or slow a metabolism is. While age has been shown to play a small role, that’s not all. “A lot can influence metabolism This includes how much muscle you have, your thyroid function, your physical activity and the rate at which you are losing weight, ”says Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT, dietetic nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics.
According to Angelone, the main reason we say this is metabolism slowed down Low as we age is that as we age we tend to gain fat and lose muscle, and fat is less “metabolically active” than muscle. “Often this is because people become less active, not just as a natural cause of the years going on,” says Angelone.
Metabolism is largely determined by the number of calories someone burns in a day, which is affected by how much a person exercises and how much fat and muscle there is in their body, known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR).
“Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a measure of the rate at which a person’s body ‘burns’ energy in the form of calories at rest,” adds Doctor. “People with more muscle and less fat generally have higher BMRs, which means they burn more energy at rest. For example, a person who exercises more not only burns more calories, but also becomes physically fitter, which increases their BMR. “
Related: 40 Tips To Avoid Gaining Weight
Does Your Metabolism Really Slow Down With Age?
Based on this recent study, the biggest finding might be that ultimately, with age, especially after 60, muscle mass decreases and fat increases. “Our basal metabolic rate drops, and we perceive this as a ‘slowed down’ metabolism,” says Doctor.
She adds that it ultimately also means that we as a society consume more calories than we consume and we are more sedentary.
“I think the important point is that besides ‘calories in vs. calories out,’ it’s really about how the calories are absorbed by the body: burned, excreted, or converted to body mass,” says Doctor. “This underscores the importance of continuing to exercise, build muscle, and consume good quality protein throughout our lifetimes, all the more as we get older.”
Tips for a fast and healthy metabolism
If you are concerned about your metabolism affecting your weight as you age, there are things you can do to prevent the spread in middle age. Here are seven of them.
Muscle mass is the basis for metabolism. The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you can eat. “People lose muscles as they get older. Instead of devoting all of your time to walking or cycling, you can burn more calories by maintaining muscle mass with resistance training, ”says DR. Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. “You burn more calories when you have 20 pounds more muscle than fat.”
In addition to strength training, add interval training to your cardio program and burn more calories in less time.
“For example, run for a minute and then walk for two minutes. Repeat this pattern for 20 to 30 minutes, ”says Doctor. “Everyone has a different ability, but find something you can do for 20 to 30 minutes a day and do it regularly for five to seven days a week. Even if you park in the back of the grocery parking lot, these small differences add up! “
Lose weight slowly
“When you’re trying to lose weight too quickly, a couple of things happen. First, you will lose more muscles that are metabolically active. This means you need even fewer calories, ”says Angelone. “Second, it will put a strain on your body, and specifically your thyroid, causing your body to be partially shut down as a survival response. Since it doesn’t get a lot of calories, it just saves them and uses fewer calories every day. “
Eat good quality protein to keep your muscles energized throughout the day
“The metabolism is based on enzymes that act as catalysts to promote the reaction chains – enzymes are proteins,” says Angelone. “When you don’t get enough protein, your body has to break down muscle or stored protein to sustain the many chemical reactions that support life.”
Related: Best Foods For Your Metabolism
Doctor adds, “For an adult, I recommend at least 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram per day, and for the elderly, I recommend 1.2-1.5 grams per kilogram per day.”
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep a night
“Research has consistently shown that when we get less, our cortisol levels go up, which causes us to metabolize foods more slowly and crave more fatty and starchy foods,” says Doctor.
She notes that a joint four-year study by the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University found that adults who regularly slept only five hours a night increased their starvation ghrelin levels by 14.9% and their appetite-suppressing leptin levels around . lowered 15.5%.
Related: 15 Possible Causes of Unexplained Weight Gain
to have breakfest
Studies show that if you start the day with breakfast, you burn more calories earlier in the day. “If you skip breakfast, your metabolism has to slow down to save calories so you can get through your morning without food,” says Angelone. “Eat breakfast so your body doesn’t have to learn to slow down to function properly.”
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Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
“Inflammation slows down the metabolism. Eat a variety of minimally processed and colorful fruits and vegetables to tame inflammation, ”says Angelone. “In addition to many vitamins and minerals, these foods provide many natural plant substances that can alleviate inflammation.”
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