Maybe this has happened to you already … and if it hasn’t, there’s a good chance it will at some point! 

One day, seemingly out of the blue, your pants don’t button up as easily, or you notice that the scale creeps up faster than it used to. 

AND … it’s much harder than it used to be to get those pants to fit the way they once did (or return the scale to its former spot). 

It’s not your imagination! The truth is your metabolism naturally slows down as you get older.  

It happens at different paces and different times for each of us, but I do have some good news for you. There are things you can do to offset it. 

And the sooner you start, the better! 

Here are some of the top reasons your metabolism begins to slow: 

  • You’re less active  
  • You’ve lost muscle 
  • Your body’s metabolic processes have slowed down because of age 

 

I’m going to outline a few key things you can do to keep your metabolism revved up as you get older. 

1) Your activity level. This is a sneaky one, because you might not actually notice you’re moving less each day! 

How active you are each day (including your workouts and your normal activities of daily living) makes up about 10% to 30% of your daily calorie burn. Very active people can actually burn up to half their daily calories from activity! 

BUT … studies show that as we get older, we tend to move less, both in terms of exercise AND our general daily living.  

More than 25% of people over 50 don’t exercise, and by the time we reach 75, that number jumps to more than 35%. 

Plus, studies show we also move less in general, burning almost 30% fewer calories through non-exercise activity. 

There is a way to avoid that slow down!  

A study comparing women aged 21-35 with women ages 50-72 showed that when the older women engaged in regular exercise, they avoided the dreaded age-related metabolic slowdown. 

→ The takeaway: Start a regular exercise habit you enjoy NOW, and find active hobbies! Having these habits in place will set a strong foundation for continued movement as you get older. 

 

2) Muscle loss. This next major cause of a slower metabolism is called sarcopenia – age-related muscle loss! 

It’s tied in with your activity level, since being less active is one reason you can lose muscle.  

On average, adults lose between 3% and 8% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30.  

One reason this matters – beyond your general strength and ability to move easily – is because muscle burns slightly more calories (even at rest) than fat.  

You can help maintain and build muscle as you age with consistent strength-training workouts: free weights, machines, and even water fitness classes can help!  

The most important part is to create some resistance for your muscles to work against. 

 

→ The takeaway: get in at least 2 strength-training workouts a week that work all of your body’s major muscle groups.  

 

3) The aging process. As you get older, the actual process of metabolism in your cells slows down or becomes less efficient. 

There isn’t a lot you can do about this – but here’s some good news. While these slowdowns do happen, studies show they have a minor impact compared with lower activity and muscle mass! 

→ The takeaway: concentrate on living a healthy lifestyle and on more activities to offset the metabolic slowdown. 

 

→ BONUS takeaway: Make sure you eat enough protein. As people get older, they often tend to eat less protein. Aim for 10% to 35% of your total daily intake.  

Tip: to boost absorption, spread your protein intake out over the course of the day, since studies show that to be more effective.  

 

Actions you take today can have a BIG impact on your life into the future. 

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6536a3.htm 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17401138 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9329340 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276215/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394186/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15640517 

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(19)30239-7/fulltext