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The Shocking Truth About Metabolism And Aging


The Shocking Truth About Metabolism And Aging


Elderly Lady pondering outside the windowIt was early in the evening and Lynda, planted on a bean bag, made herself comfortable in a cozy corner of the balcony. Sipping on some refreshing lemon tea, she was diving in a pool of memories as she flipped through the pages of her wedding album.

Her daughter, Christie, joined her on the trip down memory lane, and showered endless questions upon Lynda. Questions and remarks like, “Who’s this? Who’s that?, What’s going on here?, Oh! Aunt Anna? Couldn’t recognize her at all!” floated in the air.

All of a sudden, Christie exclaimed, “Wow Mom! You were thin as a wafer then! Isn’t that great? How pretty!” Lynda, momentarily, found her daughter’s words really kind and sweet but something did pinch somewhere!

Thin as a wafer? Only then? What now?


It felt as if someone had presented her with the hard truth, gift wrapped – that she wasn’t slim and attractive anymore and had put on extra pounds that were so apparent. It was heart-breaking, but, she had to settle down with the feeling. And this is what she told herself,

 “I was 24 when I got married, I am 46 now! I have aged and everybody grows fatter with age. I couldn’t have helped it!”

What made her think that? And was Lynda right? Read on to know the truth…


Busting the Myth

Myth: Metabolism slows down with age.

Truth: Metabolism does slow down, but the drop is nominal. So minimal that it can hardly affect a person’s weight.


Metabolism slows down at a rate of ‘just’ 5% per decade, that too after the age of 40. Isn’t that minimal? [1]

Metabolism after 40

To bust this myth, let me first clarify what metabolism exactly is.

Metabolism, by definition, means a chemical process that governs nutrition consumption and energy production. In other words, metabolism establishes the rate at which calories are burned in our body. So, it can determine how quickly or slowly we lose or gain weight.

Metabolism is related to muscle mass as well.

Muscle mass falls with increase in age and as it lessens, our caloric needs lessen too. Consequently, metabolic workload goes down. It doesn’t need to burn the same number of calories as in younger age, and hence, it slows down. (But, as I mentioned earlier, the effect is hardly measurable and so weight gain should not be attributed to a slowing metabolism.)

All you need to do is to build a lean and muscular (less fat, more muscle mass) body and try and maintain it all your life.

Loss of muscle mass with age is not only preventable but also reversible.

Stuffing the right calories

Now, the question that arises is: How to do that? How do I become more muscular? How do I increase my metabolism and stay fit?

With every decade of our age, our muscle mass falls as our caloric needs decrease by 100 calories per day (for every decade). [2] Unfortunately, we never bring about a fall in the amount of food we eat, i.e., our caloric intake.

So, what we can do is reduce the intake of calorie dense food, so that we don’t add unnecessary calories to our system. This way, we would be able to strike a perfect balance between our caloric needs and caloric intake.


Elderly lady exercising with dumbbellsIt might sound cliche, but exercise is a sure shot way to increase the metabolism rate and lose weight. It is the best way to burn calories and the surprising part is that you continue to burn calories even an hour or two after you have stopped exercising.

Try some high intensity interval training where you do highly intense exercise from half a minute to a minute with slow recovery for about a minute or two. This shoots up your metabolism rate.

Age has its effects on all, but they can always be manipulated. Look at life with this new perspective and you will find numerous people of your age around you, who are still slim and healthy.

Begin by taking this small fitness test and follow with easy bodyweight exercises.


[1] Daley MJ, & Spinks WL (2000). Exercise, mobility and aging. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 29 (1), 1-12 PMID: 10688279. ^Back to Top^

[2] Church, T., Thomas, D., Tudor-Locke, C., Katzmarzyk, P., Earnest, C., Rodarte, R., Martin, C., Blair, S., & Bouchard, C. (2011). Trends over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and Their Associations with Obesity PLoS ONE, 6 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019657. ^Back to Top^

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