How to maintain a healthy metabolism as you age

Have others rolled their eyes at you and inelegantly blamed you for being overweight?

Have you ever said, “I think have a slow metabolism?” Only to receive more eye rolling?

Well, guess what?

You were right—and they were wrong.

Let me explain…

Understanding your energy expenditure

It’s true that metabolism can be blamed for weight gain—especially as we age.

But it’s a complicated science.

See, your metabolism refers to the chemical reactions in your body’s cells that convert food into energy.

And it all boils down to your resting energy expenditure (REE), which is dependent on how much muscle mass you have.

But here’s where it gets a tad complicated…

Total energy expenditure (TEE) is broken down into REE, thermic effect of food (TEF), and non-resting expenditure (NREE), or physical activity.

More specifically, the equation looks like this:

TEE = 60 percent REE + 10 percent TEF + 30 percent NREE

So, let’s put this to work…

Protein and resistance training

In a classic study on metabolism, researchers analyzed 23 lean and 18 obese patients.

And—without getting into the nitty gritty details—they simply found that your body needs less food when you have less weight.

That’s because, when you lose weight, your body burns less energy than it normally would in its resting state—as it’s trying to maintain a higher weight.

So, technically, you could be eating the same amount of food—but your body is unable to use (burn) it as energy. This leads to that slow metabolism we were talking about.

How do we fix this conundrum? And, in turn, increase your metabolism so that you don’t repack on all those pounds?

There are two simple steps…

First, amp up your protein intake. I’ve told you this before, but the older you are, the more protein your body needs.

So, eat your body weight in grams of protein on the days you aren’t exercising. And on the days that you are, eat 1.5 times your body weight.

Second, add some resistance training to your regimen. After all, these types of exercises help preserve muscle mass while also counteracting the metabolic decrease your body is facing as you lose weight.


“Changes in energy expenditure resulting from altered body weight.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 1995. (