understanding the aging metabolism featured image: man looking at wrist watch

What an Aging Metabolism Means to You

As we age, things seem to sloooow down. Your metabolism is no exception. Metabolism is a chemical process of converting substances (i.e. food) into energy within the body. So what exactly does an “aging metabolism” mean for you?

Why does our metabolism slow with age?

As we age, muscle mass tends to decrease and fat mass tends to increase. Muscle mass has a higher rate of metabolism and burns more calories even at rest.

Less muscle mass = less calorie burning potential

Your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, is the amount of calories your body burns at rest. As your fat stores increase and muscle decreases, your BMR slows.

RELATED: Understanding the Science Behind Metabolism

Although it may appear sudden, it’s not an abrupt change when you turn 40! Your metabolism depends on your individual level of muscle and fat.

So, what can you do?

Building and maintaining muscle mass is key to a buzzing metabolism. If you haven’t tried weight training before, try adding it to your routine. Ideally, exercise 3-5 times per week with weight training 2 times per week.

Are you getting enough protein?

Ensuring adequate protein intake can also help stop the loss of muscle mass. Aim for 1-1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight (ideal body weight if you are overweight) per day. So, to give you a rough idea of where you fall, see the chart below: 

Weight (lbs)Recommended Protein Intake (g)
12054.4 – 65.3
14063.5 – 76.2
16072.6 – 87.1
18081.7 – 98.0
20090.7 – 108.9

Health Note: Check with your doctor if you have any kidney problems, as protein intake can affect kidney function!

Diet Tip: Power-up with High-Protein Foods

 Adding more high protein foods to your diet such as yogurt, cheeses, lean meats, fish, and nuts can help you reach your protein goal. (One stick of string cheese packs about 6-8 grams of protein, making it an easy on-the-go protein snack).

Diet tip
An easy way to add protein to your diet is to add a protein shake as a snack, look for powders or supplements with at least 15 grams of protein per serving. 

Caroline is a Clinical Registered Dietitian for MedStar Health and Hospital Systems in Baltimore, Maryland. She completed her Masters Degree in Dietetics from San Jose State University and moved back to Charm City to be with her fiancee. When she’s not providing medical nutrition therapy to her patients, Caroline enjoys cooking, waterfront walks and crab-anything (crab pizza is the best!).


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