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Does Your Metabolism Slow as You Age?

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It seems like an inevitable part of life that as you age, you gain weight more easily and have even more trouble losing it.

Things do change as you get older, but after coaching many people in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and beyond, I’ve seen firsthand that for anyone at any age:

✅Losing weight doesn’t have to be a giant guessing game.

✅ Gaining weight isn’t an unavoidable part of getting older.

✅ You can have MORE control over your body than ever before.

As for your metabolism… it may be slower, or maybe not. The real question is, what should you do about it?

My Age and Metabolism

The first time I ever paid attention to my diet and tracked everything I ate, I was in my mid 20’s.

I wasn’t very good at it (as is the case with everyone when they first start out), but I can give you a rough estimate of how many calories I could eat each day without losing or gaining weight:


That’s a lot (even for my size).

Compare that to now, at 38 years old, and I’m currently maintaining my weight at roughly 2,700 calories.

That’s a difference of 800 calories between now and 10 years ago!

If I were just going about my life, continuing to eat the same as I used to, I’d gain almost 2 pounds every week!

I’m clearly not a special case with super-human genetics. At first glance, it would make total sense for me to assume that my metabolism slowed down with age.

But there’s more to it than that.

Real Life Evidence

“If the internet says it, it has to be true” is a common joke.

I mention this because I know it can be difficult to trust some random study referenced on the interwebs.

But there was a research paper published recently that answered the question of whether your metabolism slows as you age, and it’s not just something I cherry-picked out of convenience.

It’s a massive study that was done by an astounding 83 authors (if I counted correctly), including the lead author who was already an established researcher in this field of study.

It involved over 6,000 people (2/3rds women), ages 8 days old (yep, days!) to 95 years old, in 29 different countries.

It’s legit (here’s the link).

The results of the study showed pretty conclusively that, between the ages of 20 and 60, your age doesn’t directly affect your metabolism. (And even after 60, the changes are less significant than you might think.)

But even though the equation is NOT:

You + Another Birthday = Slower Metabolism

…there’s a reason your metabolism probably has slowed down over the years anyway. There’s also a reason why it may SEEM to be much slower than it really is.

In either case, if you make the right moves, it doesn’t have to be a roadblock for weight loss.

Let’s look at both.

1. Your Activity Level

As we get older, oftentimes it’s not that our metabolism slows down all that significantly… it’s that WE do.

In other words, there’s a good chance the biggest reason you burn fewer calories now per day than you used to isn’t because something changed internally. Rather, it’s because your external day-to-day activities are different than they used to be.

In my case (burning 800 fewer calories per day), I know that’s what happened.

Ten years ago I had a job where I was on my feet most of the day. Now, with our business as an online personal trainer and nutrition coach, I spend a lot of time on a computer sitting at my desk.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sedentary.

I work out 2-3 times per week.

I go for regular walks.

I rarely spend my limited free time in front of the TV.

I’m still active, just not as much as I was 10 years ago. And it’s reflected by the fact that I’m now eating 800 fewer calories than I used to so I don’t gain weight.

What to Do About It

With all other things being equal, if you’re as active at age 40 as at age 20, you could eat the same way and experience the same results (positive or negative).

You aren’t at a disadvantage just because you’re older by two decades. It only feels that way because you’ve gotten busier with “adulting.”

Because of that, it’s not realistic to think you can all of a sudden start living life like you did when you were young, single, and childless.

But what CAN you do? Could you:

⏰ Manage a 30 min. workout 3 times per week?

⚾️ Join a friend’s recreational softball team?

🚶‍♀️ Go for walks when the weather is half-decent?

Any of those things will help.

You might not get to where you can eat like you did when you were 20.


On the other hand, if you’ve been inactive most of your life, you could get to where you can eat MORE than you did back then and even lose weight while doing it.

2. Your Lean Mass

What if you KNOW your activity level hasn’t changed over the years and you still have more trouble losing weight now?

What if your metabolism actually HAS slowed down?

It’s possible.

It happens to most people — but not because of age directly. There are a number of different circumstances that play a role in this, but most of them boil down to a loss of lean mass (aka muscle loss).

And while some of the things that contribute to muscle loss are often a byproduct of getting older…

  • Being less active (aka “adulting”)

  • Higher stress from work

  • Lack of sleep from kids

  • Obesity (more common in adults)

  • Menopausal hormone changes

…the negative effects to your metabolism can largely be avoided.

In fact, they can be avoided to the point where you hardly notice it at all.

What to Do About It

This is where the advice to simply “be more active” falls short.

As we’ve already seen, being active can help overall. But no matter how active you are, it isn’t addressing the direct cause of a slowed metabolism.

Since that comes from muscle loss and not simply the number of years you’ve been alive, there’s really only one solution:

Strength training.

And here’s where age DOES come into play.

A 40 year old mom or dad with 3 kids shouldn't be trying to follow the exercise program of a 20 year old collegiate athlete.

You may need more recovery time between workouts. You may have more past injuries that affect how you feel when you exercise.

You definitely have less time.

You can still reach your goals. You can still have a thriving metabolism and lose weight. You can be as strong, confident, and full of energy as you’ve ever been and more!

You just need workouts that fit your life as it is now, not some arbitrary “ideal” you wish you could achieve.

For most of our clients that means 30-ish minute workouts just 2-3 times per week. (Read more at 7 Key Strategies on Exercising for Weight Loss)

And that’s plenty! It’s not just “better than nothing,” it’s a smart way to get great results in less time.

In fact, I wish, when I was 20, I had already started exercising like I was 40 because I would have had a more realistic foundation for staying fit as I got older. (Which is another great reason to learn this stuff — so you can teach your kids and give them a better shot than you had at maintaining a healthy weight.)

A Common Mistake

Ok, so your metabolism won’t hit the emergency shut off switch on your next birthday.

But there’s a common mistake that, if you make it, could cause you to fail horribly at weight loss and question everything you just read.

Your metabolism compared to someone else who is exactly the same size as you can be drastically different…

5,000 calories per day different (based on real people in the study I mentioned earlier).

That means if you want to lose weight, YOU may have to limit yourself to 1,500 calories while another person eats 6,500 calories and loses weight at the same pace.

Don’t worry, that’s an extreme example and not very common. But here’s the takeaway:

Weight loss and your metabolism aren’t as simple as plugging numbers into some online calculator, setting your daily limits, and forgetting about it.

There’s a lot more to it than that and things can change from week to week. That’s why obsessing over counting calories and trying to get everything perfect is a waste of time (and is the REAL reason you struggle).

It’s also why trying to do it yourself is an even bigger mistake.

The truth is, getting older has some drawbacks, but your age alone isn’t why you have trouble losing weight.

Despite the fact that you have a lot going on and don’t feel confident you’ll be able to follow through, it’s 100% possible to get where you CAN eat all the delicious foods you love and still lose weight.

If you’d like, I can prove it to you.

Book a free 20 min. call (NOT a sales call) to see if our coaching (on sale through June 9) is a good fit and to get our PERSONALIZED recommendations for the best next steps to reach your goals — whether you work with us or not.

Want to see how it works first? Go here to see how we can help you get results!

A slower metabolism is not directly caused by age itself. Burning fewer calories as we get older is a combination of:

1. Becoming less active — which isn’t really a slower metabolism at all. (Solution: Move more — anything easy, NOT just “working out”)

2. Losing healthy muscle — which DOES slow your metabolism but is totally avoidable at least until age 60, and can be significantly reduced even then. (Solution: Strength training — even for 30 min. twice a week).

At any age, you CAN eat all the delicious foods you love and still lose weight, and we can prove it.

Book a free 20 min. call (NOT a sales call) to see if our coaching (on sale through June 9) is a good fit and to get our PERSONALIZED recommendations for the best next steps to reach your goals — whether you work with us or not.


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