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Discovering the Real Changes in Your Metabolism as You Age

middle aged woman


We’ve all heard it – as we age, shedding those extra pounds becomes a difficult task. It’s often linked to a fiery metabolism during our teens and 20s which we think eventually starts slowing down as we age. However, recent studies paint a different picture, showing that there’s more to it than meets the eye, and keeping your metabolism revved up is not merely about the age mentioned on your driver’s license.


Interestingly, metabolism is at its zenith at around age one. At this stage, babies burn approximately 50% more calories in relation to their body size compared to adults. There is a gradual annual decrease of about 3% until the age of 20, where it reaches a plateau. Contrary to popular belief, it was discovered that rather than witnessing a dip in your 40s or 50s, metabolism remains relatively stable until your 60s! Astonishing, isn’t it?


You might be wondering, “Why the weight gain then, if I’m not 60 yet? Could the research be flawed?” Weight gain post-40 is indeed a reality for many. So, if we can’t point fingers at metabolism, what’s the real culprit?


Overconsumption of Highly-Processed Foods


In today’s calorie-centric world, there’s a pressing need to shift our focus towards the quality of the food we consume. Numerous studies indicate that a diet high in processed foods, often laden with sugars, unhealthy fats, and additives, can lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain due to their low nutrient density and impact on hunger signals. A diet rich in whole, minimally-processed foods, abundant in essential nutrients, fiber, and protein, is associated with better weight maintenance and overall health. 


A Low Impact Lifestyle


Experiencing a reduction in activities that elevate your heart rate or put your muscles to the test can indeed be a contributing factor to weight gain. To counteract this, it’s essential to incorporate movement that raises your heart rate into your routine at least three times a week. It’s best to avoid extended periods of sitting; make a conscious effort to take brief breaks for brisk walks whenever feasible. This not only boosts your metabolism but also enhances overall well-being, making it a two-fold strategy for maintaining a healthy weight.


Handling Stress Poorly 


Experiencing increased stress levels in your 40s and 50s can inadvertently lead to comfort eating and the triggering of hormones that encourage fat cell formation. This phenomenon underlines the importance of incorporating stress-reducing activities into one’s daily regimen, which can aid in adopting healthier lifestyle habits. Engaging in a blend of regular exercise, mindfulness practices, adequate sleep, and fostering social connections can significantly mitigate stress levels and contribute to a balanced life. Addressing the nuances of stress effectively is pivotal, as it helps break the cycle of comfort eating and lays the foundation for maintaining physical and mental well-being through the years.


Neglecting Quality Sleep


Achieving adequate sleep is essential for regulating hunger and satiety hormones, influencing our eating habits. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep and establishing a calming bedtime routine can facilitate better appetite control and healthier food choices. This balance not only enhances decision-making, aiding in resisting unhealthy cravings but also fosters overall well-being, marking sleep as a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.


Inadequate Hydration


Inadequate hydration is often an overlooked factor when it comes to weight management, yet it plays an instrumental role in various physiological processes, including metabolism and appetite control. Staying well-hydrated can help regulate hunger cues, making it easier to differentiate between thirst and actual hunger, thereby potentially reducing unnecessary calorie intake.


Overlooking Self-Care


Ignoring your own well-being can raise stress, which in turn can make you more susceptible to making unhealthy choices, like opting for junk food. Making time for activities that enrich your emotional and mental state—from working out to connecting with family and friends—can act as a stress deterrent, indirectly supporting your efforts to manage your weight and enhance your overall happiness. As such, carving out time for these activities is crucial for maintaining life’s equilibrium.


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