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How Metabolism Changes With Age

Your body changes in many ways as you get older, and this includes a slowing of your metabolism. Your metabolism begins to slow down by 2 percent every decade after you turn 30. While this does not directly harm your health, it can make it more difficult for you to keep off excess weight. Ask your doctor for tips on how to stay active and boost your metabolism.

Effects of Aging
You may begin to lose muscle mass as early as your 20’s, and between the age of 20 and 90, you will likely lose as much as 50 percent of your muscle mass. This loss corresponds directly to a drop in your metabolism—the less muscle you have, the fewer calories your body is able to burn. You may also notice an increase in body fat, which also decreases your lean muscle mass. Menopause can slow a woman’s metabolism down as well.

Contributing Factors
Age is not the only factor that can slow down your metabolism. Eating a diet that is too high in calories, not getting enough exercise and other unhealthy habits like not sleeping enough can all make your metabolism slower. Genetics and certain medications can affect the rate at which your body burns calories as well. Along with a loss in muscle mass, you will experience a change in hormone levels as you get older, which can also contribute to metabolic shifts.

Lifestyle Changes
Make certain lifestyle changes to ward off age-related weight gain and keep your metabolism working as best as it can. Eat a healthy breakfast, as skipping this first meal can prompt your body to store up calories as fat, and it can also make you more likely to overeat later. Consume small meals every three hours or so to keep your metabolism going and your blood sugar levels in check. Choose lean proteins to stay fuller longer and help your body build muscle. Add an hour of some form of physical activity to your routine most days of the week, if you are healthy enough to do so, and sleep eight hours every night.

Do not make any changes to your diet or begin exercising without acquiring your doctor’s permission. Beware of supplements that claim to boost your metabolism, as these will most likely be ineffective and can potentially cause serious health problems. If you believe your metabolism is exceptionally slow, go see a physician, who can determine if you have an underlying condition like hypothyroidism.

Metabolism 101
Simply put, metabolism is the process of breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to yield the energy your body needs to maintain itself. The rate of your metabolism depends on the interaction between the number of calories you consume, the number of calories you burn while eating and exercising, and the calories you burn based on your individual genetic makeup.

How can you increase your metabolism? Well, there’s not much you can do about your genes (they only account for a measly 5% of total daily calorie consumption anyway), which means the best way to rev up your metabolism is to increase your body’s need for energy.

“Your body can burn calories from either fat, protein, or carbs,” says John Berardi, PhD, CSCS, president of Precision Nutrition, and author of The Metabolism Advantage. “Of course, you’d rather it burn fat calories, but your body isn’t wasteful; it will burn fat only when it needs energy.”

One such time is during exercise, but it’s difficult to exercise all the time, especially if you’re stuck at a desk all day. Luckily, your body requires extra energy at other times, too, such as during the first hour or two after intense exercise like interval training and weight lifting. This is called the “afterburn” effect, Berardi says, and it can last for up to 24 hours.

Strength training with heavier than usual weights uses up energy, too — in order to repair small (healthy) muscle tears.
And simply being more muscular boosts your body’s energy needs. Each extra pound of muscle you carry can burn up to 50 additional calories just to maintain itself — and with no effort on your part. You can also increase your metabolism by eating foods that require extra energy to digest and metabolize; for example, protein. Your body burns twice as many calories digesting high-protein foods as it does foods that are high in carbs or fat, he says.

How Age Changes Your Metabolism
It’s true; your metabolism does slow down with age, but keep reading — the news isn’t all bad.
Starting at about age 25, the average person’s metabolism declines between 5% and 10% per decade, Berardi says, which means that the typical North American loses between 20% and 40% of their metabolic power over the course of their adult life span.

The good news? A vastly slowed down metabolism isn’t inevitable, he says. It only occurs because North Americans tend to become far less physically active over the course of their lives. In fact, research shows that people who preserve their physical activity levels throughout their lifetime can expect to see only a 0.3% metabolic decline per decade. This is a huge difference, Berardi tells WebMD — only a 1% to 2% total drop over a person’s lifetime.

To  increase your metabolism — and keep it humming — practice the following habits:
•    Build some brawn. Putting on just 5 to 10 pounds of lean muscle mass will rev up your resting metabolism — the number of calories your body burns to maintain life — by roughly 100 calories, each and every day, Berardi says.

•    Burn, baby, burn. Maximize the calories you burn after exercise by integrating high intensity intervals into your workout. Alternate 3 minutes of moderate intensity running or biking with 30 seconds of all-out effort. You’ll burn another 100 to 200 calories this way, Berardi says, even while sitting on the couch or lying in bed.

•    Hit the sack. Skimping on sleep can alter your metabolism, says Sanjay Patel, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.  Lack of sleep can decrease the number of calories your body burns just resting — performing the basic necessities of life, like pumping blood, breathing and repairing damaged tissues. According to Berardi, the rate of calories your body burns at rest represents about 60% to 75% of your total daily calorie burning, which makes slowing it through lack of sleep a serious roadblock to weight loss.

•    Eat often. Berardi recommends eating every 2 to 3 hours. Each time you eat, you stimulate your metabolism for a short period of time, which means that the more often you eat, the more you’ll increase your metabolism. Eating every 2 to 3 hours feeds muscle and starves fat. By eating frequently, you reassure your body that you aren’t going to starve; that food will always be available. Skipping breakfast, eating only a sandwich for lunch, and pigging out at dinner, on the other hand, frightens your body into storing fat, just in case your next meal never comes. Research from Georgia State University shows that people who eat every 2 to 3 hours have less body fat and faster metabolisms than those who eat only 2 or 3 meals per day.

•    … But eat right. Frequent eating doesn’t mean snacking, Berardi cautions. Rather than munching mindlessly, make each mini-meal complete — with a serving of vegetables and a healthy source of protein like eggs, chicken, or nuts. Upping your intake of high-fiber foods like vegetables is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism, says Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, FACSM, assistant professor and director of sports nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate, but the body tries hard to break it down anyway, using up energy — and boosting metabolism in the process. Plus, vegetables are low in calories, yet high in nutrients — a huge boon for your weight loss efforts.
•    The straight-up truth. As for other much-hyped metabolism boosters like green tea, caffeine, and hot peppers, it seems you’re better off focusing your weight loss efforts elsewhere. A compound in green tea called ECGC has been shown to elevate metabolism by a small amount, Clark tells WebMD, but it’s not enough to make a difference in weight. Capsaicin, the chemical in hot peppers that gives them their heat, boosts metabolism, too, but again, it’s not a significant enough change to have a weight loss benefit. Caffeine may or may not aid in weight loss — as a central nervous system stimulant, it absolutely does increase metabolism, she says, but studies on its weight effects have had mixed results.

•    Go fish. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found only in fish oil, may have the power to dramatically boost your metabolism — by about 400 calories per day, researchers from the University of Western Ontario report. Fish oil increases levels of fat-burning enzymes and decreases levels of fat-storage enzymes in your body. For the best metabolism boosting benefit, choose capsules containing at least 300 milligrams of EPA and DHA total.

Sources: http://www.livestrong.com/www. webmd.com

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