Things change about our body as we age. Most of us immediately think about wrinkles and sun spots as the most obvious changes, but really those are just the immediately visible shifts over time. The biggest ones are subtle and can easily get away from you if you’re not mindful of the changes. Most of them are connected to the fact that our metabolism starts shifting in our 30s. When we’re younger, it tends to operate at far higher rates. This is especially true for us when we’re in puberty and our body continually motivates us to eat more to fuel all the changes going on in our bodies. It doesn’t quite ever reach that peak again, but the downward trend doesn’t solidly begin until our 30s as it gradually begins to move slower and slower at base. A slower metabolism means a lot to your body and not all of it necessarily the best news.
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Slower metabolism begins to manifest as everyone begins to put on weight around their middles. It is much more pronounced for men, but women experience it as well. The slowing of the metabolism means you’re burning less energy regularly and it has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, that means creating more fat cells and storing them around the body. Using less energy constantly also tends to mean we begin to feel a little slower and lethargic because our body isn’t circulating as much of the “power” that your body needs. The increasing amount of stored fat isn’t good for your health at all. Belly fat in particular is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease as you age. This doesn’t mean you need to strive to have a perfectly flat and muscular tummy, but it does mean that you need to at least not let the problem get out of control. You can do this by helping keep your metabolism working.
Yes, that dreaded word that none of us ever like to hear come out of our doctor’s mouth is actually quite necessary if you want to help keep your metabolism from slacking off too much. Exercising regularly actually helps to keep your metabolic rate up and, as a result, means you burn more energy constantly. It does this both directly and indirectly. Exercise helps us to build and maintain musculature. Muscles require a comparatively large amount of energy to maintain and, as a result, you’re resting metabolic rate, your metabolism’s speed for burning energy when you’re not moving around, is higher as your body helps to maintain your musculature. Additionally, your metabolism is higher during exercise and for a little while after. Routine exercise encourages your body to remain healthy by countering some of the gradual slowing of your metabolic rate. We may dread the burn immediately following exercise, but at least you know you’ve exercised enough that your body actually noticed.
Yep, it is that other dreaded bit of health advice that reminds us that we can’t live on chocolate alone. A good diet plays right into motivating your metabolism as you can both trick it to avoid eating more than you need to and eat things that make your body work a little harder to process it. We do need to stress that you shouldn’t be eating fewer calories than your body needs per day though. That will actually slow your metabolism even more as your body tries to preserve what it already has in stock, so to speak. Eat what your body needs, but focus it more. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are particularly good at helping your body keep its metabolism up as fiber-rich foods tend to take that much more effort for your body to process. You’ll also want to look into ensuring there are healthy sources of protein in your diet at the same time. Fiber and protein both trigger chemicals in your brain that tell you that you’re full. Making your body work for the energy will just magnify that benefit.
We can’t change the fact that our metabolisms slow with age. It is simply what we all have to make peace with eventually. Your body will hit a point where it can’t keep up with where it was and the slowdown will gradually mount. You don’t have to accept it as a negative inevitability, though. Yes, it will happen, but you can work to minimize the slow down and keep your body healthy. Taking steps to do so will help you age gracefully and preserve your health for far longer.