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Does Our Metabolism Slow Down As We Get Older?

Jan 11, 2015 08:12PM ● Published by Jennifer Neys

By Anna Dornier

The other day a new client mentioned she is having difficulty losing weight as she gets older. She said when she was younger she could lose extra weight in just a matter of weeks pretty easily. We've all heard it before; people say their metabolism has slowed down with age. They may be right, and they may be wrong.

There is a phenomenon called muscle atrophy associated with age, which is basically the loss of muscle mass as people get older. For example, if you or someone you know has broken a leg bone and has the injured region placed in a cast, the muscle in that part of the leg becomes a lot smaller compared to the muscle on the other, un-casted leg. This is where the saying "Use it or lose it" applies. The less you use a particular muscle, the less muscle you'll have in that area.

Muscle burns more calories than fat cells, so when we lose muscle mass later in life, we also slow down our metabolism. Many studies have been done on aging, and Holly Van Remmen, co-author of an aging study at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, says, "Age-related muscle atrophy in skeletal muscle is inevitable. However, we know it can be slowed down or delayed."

So, how do we delay muscle atrophy? The only answer is exercise, particularly strength-training exercises where you lift weights, such as dumbbells and barbells, or use your own body weight, with pushups or lunges, to maintain or increase muscle mass. Muscles burn four calories more per pound compared to fat. Adding just a few pounds of muscle can immediately increase metabolism, which then prevents age related muscle wasting and helps increase or maintain your metabolism as you age.

Usually, lifting weights three times a week for 30-45 minutes is sufficient for most people who want to maintain or increase their muscle, depending on how their workout is tailored to their needs.

For more information on how Anna and her team of coaches at Transform FX Fitness can design your ideal fitness routine and nutrition plan to fit your lifestyle, call 925.289.8042 or e-mail or visit



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