Age-Associated Changes in Metabolism

How our bodies process the food we eat

It doesn’t matter how fast or slow your metabolism is between the ages of 10-30, you’ve probably heard that it’s a slippery slide into obesity past that point. Aunts and moms are generally those who love sharing nuggets of wisdom such as, “enjoy it while you can” and “after 30 it’s all downhill”. Based on that, we could conclude that there is some magical change that happens at the exact moment we celebrate our 30th birthday, causing the body’s metabolism to suddenly slow down to a crawl. Though it’s true that metabolism slows down with age, there’s no single turning point or cause why that happens.

We cannot deny that our metabolism has its ownups and downs. However, there’s no reason to fear any particular birthday more than any other when it comes to the way the body functions. The metabolism slows down as we age. That happens because it goes hand in hand with hormonal changes that happen over the course of years and decades.

Hormonal changes and a slowing metabolism are fundamental parts of aging, but there are ways to stave off both, if only for a little bit. Read on to find out what experts have to say about the process of metabolism slowing down and what healthy habits help curb that.

Metabolism is the speed with which the body turns calories from food into usable energy

No matter what we’re doing, our bodies are hard at work doing things such as extracting oxygen from the air, healing damaged cells and pumping out hormones. For all that, the body uses calories, and their combined worth in a single day is called “basal metabolic rate” (BMR). This differs from one individual to another, and a way to find out your BMR is to have your doctor check it for you or use an online calculator.

You will spend more calories when jogging, doing pushups or sprinting, but your BMR value tends to remain constant, since it’s controlled by your hormones. Genes, gender, body type and age also affect the BMR. As we grow older, the hormones within our bodies begin to change, affecting the way our bodies burn calories and store fat. When hormones are released in different quantities, our basal metabolic rate begins to fluctuate.

Biggest metabolic rate changes are related to menopause

The metabolism tends to grind to a halt way after 30, and generally around menopause. The average women see their metabolisms change is at the age of 50, when they get into menopause. The most notable hormone responsible for metabolism is estrogen. When it starts decreasing, the metabolism takes a big hit. Harvard Health also mentions the human growth hormone (HGH), released from the pituitary gland. It also slows down to a trickle as we grow older, since it regulates our muscle mass and fat burning. Muscles tend to grow slower as we age and break up faster. Since muscles are more metabolically active than fat cells, they are a huge factor in whether your BMR will slow down or speed up.

Post-30 weight gain is mostly due to lifestyle changes

People’s metabolisms slowly decline throughout 30s and 40s, but the weight gain is mostly caused by general lifestyle changes that you might not be aware of. We love to exercise in our 20s, but as we age and get to 30, we lose interest because we’re too focused on our careers or kids.

The silver lining: Faster metabolism is related to more physical activity

You can’t escape your genes, but you can take care of your body to make a difference. Even if someone has good genes and has looked skinny their entire life, a lack of physical exercise and proper dieting may trigger weight gain. It’s very important to try and restore muscle mass.

Eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and working out can help the metabolism get back on track. Why wait for your body to break down, when you can look and feel amazing at 50? Sure there might be lots of nursing homes near me just waiting for seniors to jump in, but if you eat right and exercise, you can live alone at home and be healthy. That’s the definition of a fulfilled lifestyle!

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