Your Metabolism Changes as You Get Older. Functional Nutritional Testing Can Show You What You Need to Be Your Healthiest.
Your Metabolism Explained
The term “metabolism” simply refers to our body’s process of taking the food we consume and transforming it into energy. This process never stops, regardless of our own activity or conscious state. Whether we are in the peak of a high-intensity exercise or in the deepest stage of sleep, our metabolism is constantly at work converting nutrients and oxygen into energy.
This brief description lends itself to a variety of questions. Is there a link between weight and metabolism? How about between a person’s muscle or fat levels and their metabolic rate? At what age are our metabolisms fastest–and when are they slowest? Can lifestyle changes make an impact on our metabolisms, or are they genetically predisposed?
Before exploring the ways our metabolisms evolve as we go through life, let’s knock some of these FAQs out of the way.
When are humans’ metabolisms the highest?
Studies show that, on average, our metabolic rates are the highest as we’re entering the toddler stage (right around 1 year old). One-year-olds burn calories about 50% faster than adults. From that point, that difference decreases by about 3 percentage points every year until our early 20s.
Is there a link between your metabolism and your weight?
The short answer is that yes–and no. That’s because your metabolism is more closely tied to your body composition than to your body weight. Two individuals might weigh the exact same, but if Individual 1 has a higher muscle mass than Individual 2, they will–barring any health conditions that cause the contrary–also have a faster metabolism. This is because muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain, leading it to burn more calories at rest than fat. This is why resistance exercise that helps to increase muscle can help you burn more calories and in turn makes it easier to lose weight.
Age and Its Impact
Why does our metabolism begin to slow down significantly as soon as one year into toddlerhood, and how does age have a demonstrable impact on our metabolic rates? Once you hit your 20s, your metabolic rate decreases by roughly 3-5% every decade. By age 30, many adults feel a difference in their ability to lose weight, as well as their physical stamina and activity levels. This, of course, does not apply to all adults–especially those who maintain professional or semi-professional fitness routines throughout their late 20s and early 30s.
With age come both physical and lifestyle contributions to decreased levels of physical activity. As individuals become busier with children, careers, and daily responsibilities, they may have less time to dedicate to building or maintaining muscle, which can lead to a slower metabolism.
By their 50s, however, even the most athletic individuals experience significant changes in not just their physical performance capabilities, but in their metabolic rates. This is due to a variety of reasons. First up is the fact that every body undergoes sarcopenia, a process during which it will lose muscle mass as it ages naturally. As the muscle mass decreases, fat begins to form instead. As we discussed above, bodies with lower muscle densities have lower metabolic rates. It turns out that the number one determinant of longevity and healthspan lies in your ability to maintain strength and muscle.
There are, of course, factors beyond our control that may also contribute to our metabolic rates. Generally speaking, males have faster metabolism than females, as male bodies are capable of putting on more muscle mass than female bodies.
What Can We Do?
There comes a point in our lives where we are unable to undo the natural course of our metabolic rates. It is an inescapable fact that our metabolisms will slow down with age. However, that by no means indicates that we must consequently become unhealthy or inactive. In fact, it makes it that much more important to prioritize physical activity and healthy eating and maintaining fitness level and strength.
As our metabolisms slow down, it becomes crucial to eat well-balanced, nutrient-rich foods that promote gut health and nourish our bodies. It’s also fundamental to continue exercising, whether that means a long daily walk, strength training, dance lessons, or anything else that captures your interest.
Ultimately, however, the best thing you can do for your body is understand its unique needs.
Finding Your Fit
Your metabolism may abide by general changes that come with age, but its unique pace, evolution, and need will depend on many factors – your genetics, fitness level, nutrition, stress level, and body composition. A functional medicine approach looks at all these factors paired with comprehensive testing. Functional nutritional testing includes laboratory tests to assess the body’s need for antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, digestive support, and other select nutrients. We also assess pre-existing conditions that may be affecting your physical health and measure your body composition (muscle mass, body fat percentage) and your metabolic rate. By understanding your nutritional profile and receiving factual data about your metabolic needs, we will help you to make plans for maintaining the healthiest balance possible as you continue to age.
At Robinson MD, we believe that treatment should be tailored to the unique needs of every patient, which is why we place such an emphasis on nutritional testing as a means by which to better understand your metabolic needs. To learn more about how to optimize your lifestyle based on your personal metabolism, schedule a consultation with us.
Think of the food labels as a warning label and if you follow the following rules, your health and wellness will be better in the long run… Read the ingredients rather than calories or nutrients. Calorie counting is less not effective for losing the inflammatory...