A recent study published in the Journal Science shows metabolic rate remains stable all through adult life, from age 20 to 60 years old. These changes shed light on human development and aging and should help shape nutrition and health strategies across the life span.  

The biological study takes everything we thought we knew about metabolism and aging and essentially throws it out the window. It was commonly believed as you start getting older your metabolism slows down. Once you hit your thirties, you pack on a few extra pounds and there’s not much you can do about it because it’s your metabolism causing that to happen. And even more so when you’re in your forties and in your fifties. WRONG!!! The study dispels this myth.

The study reviewed individuals from 8 days to 95 years old to come to the findings. What they uncovered is that our metabolism evolves over four stages of our lives.  From birth until one year’s old we are metabolism machines. Our metabolism is in overdrive. But once we turn 1 our metabolism starts slowing down about 3% a year until age 20. From 20 to 60 it stays the same regardless of what’s happening, regardless of gender, regardless of menopause or pregnancy. None of those things influence our basic metabolism. However, once we turn 60, biologically our metabolism begin slowing down again. The myth that men burn calories faster than women do was also busted. The study found there to be no difference between our metabolic rates.

The findings reaffirmed that exercise is essential for heart health and reduction of certain cancers but might not be the key to weight loss or even weight management. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. Exercise should be part of your overall lifestyle goals but it shouldn’t be what you’re depending on to lose and to keep weight off. As we know, losing weight is not easy. Keeping it off is even more difficult. We now have to acknowledge the fact that we can’t use the excuse anymore and blame it on our metabolism.

Daily energy expenditure through the human life course (science.org)

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