How to Support Your Metabolism Throughout Life

Shannon Miller

November 30, 2023


The word “metabolism” often comes synonymously with weight loss: “if you have a faster metabolism, you will lose more weight.” However, it’s not always that simple. Metabolism refers to the complex set of chemical processes that occur within the body to maintain life. These processes include converting food into energy, building and repairing tissues, and removing waste products. Metabolism can change over time due to various factors, and it is essential to understand these changes and how to support a healthy metabolism throughout life.

Age-Related Changes in Metabolism

Metabolism tends to slow down with age due to several factors. Muscle mass decreases with age, particularly after age 30. Since muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, a decrease in muscle can affect metabolism. Mainly, age-related muscle mass is related to a lower resting metabolic rate (RMR), which means your body may burn fewer calories at rest. Hormonal changes also occur with age or as a result of lifestyle factors like stress, nutritional habits, poor sleep, and the intake of certain medications. Decreases in growth hormone, testosterone (in men), and estrogen (in women), can also directly influence metabolism. Additionally, as we get older, it is common for physical activity to reduce, which can contribute to a decrease in daily energy expenditure.

How to Support Metabolism as You Age

It’s important to adopt lifestyle habits that support a healthy metabolism at every stage of life. Focusing on a balanced diet is a great place to start. Consume a well-balanced diet that provides essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). Focus on whole foods, lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Be mindful of portion sizes and maintain a caloric balance that suits your age, activity level, and health goals. Engaging in regular physical activity, including both cardiovascular exercise and strength training can help maintain and build muscle mass, which is metabolically active. Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for various metabolic processes, as water plays a role in digestion, nutrient transport, and temperature regulation. Chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances that affect metabolism. Practice stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises. Getting enough quality sleep is also extremely important to maintaining a healthy metabolism, as sleep deprivation can disrupt hormonal balance and negatively impact metabolism. Maintain an active lifestyle regardless of age. Include daily activities that keep you moving, such as walking, gardening, or household chores. Finally, staying socially engaged can help with mental and emotional health, which, in turn, can positively influence metabolism.

Can Your Metabolic Rate Improve with Age?

Metabolic changes are a natural part of aging. And while many believe metabolism is a set metric, it is possible to shift towards a healthier metabolism by shifting habits and working with a professional. Getting a sense of your baseline RMR is a great first step into understanding your health at a deeper level. Regularly monitoring RMR metrics through a simple breathing test can help you track any changes your lifestyle is helping to promote.

It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for supporting metabolism throughout life. Individual factors, including genetics, medical history, and lifestyle choices, can influence metabolic health. If you have specific concerns about your metabolism, hormone imbalances, overall health, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional for personalized guidance and recommendations. While metabolic changes may be frustrating, there are several ways you can adjust your lifestyle to help accommodate these changes throughout life, and even begin to improve your metabolic rate over time.

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