Does your metabolism slow down with age?

metabolism and age

Have you heard your doctor say that it is normal to gain weight in your forties because it is normal for your age?  Does your metabolism slow down with age?

Well, a new study published in Science Magazine in August 2021 challenged the age-old (pun intended!) “truth” that your metabolism slows down in your midlife and that it is normal to gain weight. 

The Latest Research

Herman Pontzer, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, together with more than 80 other researchers, found some interesting facts when they compiled data from over 6,600 people, ranging in age from 8 days old up to 95 years of age, as they went about their daily lives.  They lived in 29 different countries.  The researchers looked at metabolism – the rate at which your body burns calories. 

The researchers found that there are four distinct periods of life as far as metabolism goes.

  1. First, they found that (adjusting for weight) infants had the highest metabolic rates. By the time an infant turns 1 year old, they burn calories 50% faster than adults.
  2. Then, from age 1 to about age 20, a person’s metabolism slows by about 3% per year until your 20’s.
  3. From your 20’s to your 50’s, a person’s metabolism is stable. Even during pregnancy, the calorie needs didn’t change more than expected. Even menopause didn’t slow metabolism.
  4. Only from age 60 does your metabolism start to slow down, but even then, it is gradual, by only 0.7% a year.

Also, the researchers found that there are no real differences between the metabolic rates of women and men after controlling for other factors.

What it means for us

If you are struggling with weight and want to blame your metabolism and age, the research clearly found that your age is not to blame.

Well, if it is not your age, then what is causing your weight gain? The research didn’t answer this question, so you have to put on your investigative hats to figure this out. 

1. Thyroid problems

First, make sure your thyroid function is optimized!  If you are struggling with thyroid problems, this step is critical.  Work with your doctor to make sure your thyroid levels are not just normal, but optimal for you!  This includes checking if you have thyroid antibodies (which is an indication of inflammation) and what your reverse T3 levels are (as these block your cells from using T3 hormones).

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Autoimmune Thyroid Condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

2. Lifestyle Issues

Second, have a look at your lifestyle: your diet, your activity, your stress levels, and your sleep. Do you eat 10 portions of fresh fruits and veggies each day? Are you sleeping for 7 to 9 hours  each night? Are you moving throughout the day? How well are you managing your stress levels?  

These are all the little things that can make a huge difference. 

3. Inflammation

If you have chronic low-grade inflammation, it will be very hard for your body to lose weight.  Now you have a look at what might be causing inflammation.  And unfortunately, there are so many possible causes of inflammation: food sensitivities and allergies, intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut), underlying infection, an autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s, which impacts your thyroid function), insulin sensitivity or resistance, toxin overload, heavy metal exposure, severe calorie restriction, and mold in your house or place of work. 

There could be other reasons that may be causing inflammation.  I recommend that you work with your doctor to figure it out.    If you don’t know where to start, start with a CRP (c-reactive protein) blood test, which will indicate if you have inflammation.  But then you will have to search for what is causing the inflammation.

As long as there is inflammation in your body, you are not going to lose weight.

4. Sex Hormones

Fourth, check your sex hormones. Testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen all play a role. For example, if your testosterone levels are in the basement, you are really going to struggle to lose weight. And then, if your estrogen levels are too high, it can also impact your thyroid function which impacts your metabolism.

5. Certain Medications

Certain medications and treatments may have weight gain as a side effect.  If you are taking chronic medications, check the negative side effects and see if they may be contributing to your weight gain.  If you want to make changes to your medication, please always consult with your doctor.   


In summary, does your metabolism slow down with age?  The research claims that it is not true. 

If you are struggling with your weight, you cannot blame your waning metabolism because you are getting older.  

There are other reasons why you are gaining weight or struggling to lose weight.  The great news is that these are factors you can influence and control, such as changing your diet, making sure you get quality sleep, managing your stress, and checking for and addressing inflammation.  

Not always easy, but it can be done!  The key here is to start at a point and through a process of elimination, figure out what you need to change and work on!

And if you need some help, schedule your free 30-minute consultation, and let’s get you started in the right direction. 

Adele du Rand

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