If you’re middle-aged and have been slowly but steadily gaining weight for years, you probably attribute it to an age-related decline in metabolism.
Metabolic rate is the rate at which the body burns calories to stay alive and functioning. It is a generally accepted belief that as we age, resting metabolism slows down, especially after age 40. And if you are a woman in menopause, your metabolism slows down even more.
But this is not true, according to a new article published in Science. Analyzing the data of almost 6,500 people aged between infancy and old age, the authors of the article determined that the metabolism at rest remains stable between the ages of 20 and 60 and that thereafter it registers a decrease of less than 1 % per year.
Also, contrary to conventional wisdom, the paper cites no actual differences between men’s and women’s resting metabolic rates, even in menopausal women, when other factors are controlled for.
The answer has less to do with age and more to do with lifestyle. Although your baseline resting metabolic rate may not have changed between the ages of 20 and 60, the factors that drive other aspects of your metabolism, when not at rest, have likely changed, decreasing your ability to metabolize fat, maximizing fat burn calories from exercise, increase energy-burning muscle mass, and get quality rest to enable metabolic processes.
Don’t worry, this is not bad news. It means that you have the power to make changes that will boost your metabolism, regardless of your age.
Stay active during the day
When wondering why you feel that your metabolism has slowed down with age, you should also ask yourself if your daily activity level has slowed down. In addition to all the other health risks associated with prolonged sitting, experts point out that constant inactivity is the biggest detriment to metabolism.
“Being sedentary most of the day dramatically reduces fat metabolism,” says Edward Coyle, professor of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
Fat metabolism refers to the type of fuel that is burned during resting metabolism.
Coyle, who is also the director of the university’s Human Performance Laboratory, said his research found that you need to take at least 8,500 steps a day, throughout the day, rather than all at once, to maintain metabolism. adequate from fats.
Additionally, in his lab, Coyle found that just five four-second bursts of exercise performed at maximum effort every hour throughout the day can dramatically increase fat metabolism by up to 49%.
Although doing 20 seconds of full sprints every hour is impractical for most people, sedentary office workers whose time and responsibility constraints make it difficult to hit the gym regularly should be encouraged to get up and move for a few minutes per hour, as it can provide significant benefits.
Get the right kind of exercise
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training have been shown to have statistically significant effects on metabolism.
HIIT is a style of training that involves periods of intense exercise with an elevated heart rate alternated with periods of recovery. It has been shown to raise metabolic rate, specifically for fat burning, long after training is over. One study found that after 12 weeks of HIIT, overweight men reduced their abdominal fat by 17% and overall fat mass by 2 kilos, which is comparatively more than other studies on burning fat using alternative forms of exercise. You can learn more about how to safely perform HIIT here.