Opening Up To Dr. YOU
Question: What causes your metabolism to slow down?
Effect of ageing on metabolism
Do you often find yourself wondering if the reason behind your weight gain could be ‘ageing’?
There is an infamous long-held belief that metabolism slows down progressively as you age and becomes a cause of weight gain. Slow metabolism means your body burns fewer calories at rest and during physical activity than the amount of calories it stores in the body.
Well, Dr. YOU did some fact-checking and found out a research study that was conducted recently to find out how metabolism changes over the lifespan. This study included data from people of different age groups around the world and calculated their total energy expenditure (corresponds with rate of metabolism) using a scientific technique called Doubly Labelled Water (DLW), and the results were surprising! The main findings were as follows:
- Metabolism is fast from the age of 1 to 20 years, which means energy expenditure continues to increase with age throughout childhood and adolescence.
- At around 20 years, metabolism reaches a plateau, which means the metabolic rate becomes stable.
- During adulthood (20–60 years), metabolism remains stable in both men and women, which means it doesn’t seem to slow down if you are middle-aged, contrary to the popular belief that states otherwise.
- After 60 years of age, metabolism starts to decline. So, you cannot blame your age for slow metabolism until you turn 60!.
What causes your metabolism to slow down?
- Being a couch potato — Sedentary behaviors, like insufficient physical activity and sitting for long hours, are extremely unhealthy for metabolic health. It not only slows down your metabolism and leads to weight gain, but also spikes triglyceride and blood sugar levels, which increase your risk of developing type-2 diabetes and heart diseases. You should stay physically active throughout the day and not just while exercising. If you sit behind the desk for long hours, stand up every 40 minutes to stretch the body or take a quick walk.
- Staying famished — When you skip meals frequently, your body tries to make up for an insufficient nutrient intake by storing more calories, and it slows down your metabolism by switching on your survival mode. This can lead to unintended weight gain. Similarly, eating too little can also cause you to gain weight as opposed to losing it. You should be regular with your meals (balanced meals consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds). Make sure that you eat everyday at the same time.
- Being overworked and stressed — Chronic stress increases levels of a hormone called cortisol in the blood. High levels of cortisol can increase inflammation in the body, which leads to fat storage around the abdomen and also increases your overall weight over a period of time. You can lower stress by practicing mind-calming activities like meditation, listening to music, yoga, or a leisurely walk.
- Being a night owl — Sleep deprivation can alter glucose metabolism and creates an imbalance in the hormones that control appetite. It increases levels of hunger hormone (ghrelin) and decreases levels of satiety hormone (leptin). This can lead you to overeat high-calorie foods and gain weight as a result. Ensure that you sleep 7–8 hours each night.
- Hormone disorders — Hormonal disorders, like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and hypothyroidism, slow down metabolism and lead to weight gain. PCOS is characterized by high levels of hormones like androgen, cortisol, and insulin in the blood and increased inflammation. Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. All these conditions can slow down metabolism and can sometimes lead to drastic weight gain. Managing the symptoms of these disorders with medication, regular exercise, and nutritious food can help you avoid gaining weight.
Remember, the only person who can keep YOU the healthiest is YOU!
DISCLAIMER: Dr. YOU aims to bring you the latest evidence-based science, and our content is for informational purposes only. The content is not medical advice or guarantee of an outcome. You should always consult a doctor or qualified healthcare professional if you need further clarification and before making any changes to your treatment plans and lifestyle, or that of others.
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