It’s true – every precious pound of metabolism-boosting muscle on your body translates to more calories “combusted” each and every day. This is putting it quite simply, but the effects are not to be discounted.
When it comes to weight control, over the course of the year, this adds up to an excellent metabolic advantage!
It also explains why you may discover, as you “move through time” – as I call getting older – that you may find your belt is inexplicably tighter and the shirt buttons easier to pop, even though you may not have (necessarily) changed your eating habits.
So what happened?
Metabolic Decline – A Function of Age or Simply a Reflection of Activity Levels?
A common complaint of the midlife woman – or those approaching same – is the refrain “my metabolism is slowing down with age”.
You may be getting older, and your metabolic rate may indeed be slowing down – but they do not necessarily need to go hand in hand.
Let me explain.
While it is true that older people, on an average, burn less calories per pound of body weight each day than someone younger, this is usually due to the fact that the muscle mass of the older individual is usually less.
Yet here’s the good news. It doesn’t need to be so.
If we look at the activity levels of the younger (under 35) vs. those in midlife and beyond, we can usually make a correlation between getting older and getting less active. Thus, the shift in metabolism is more often than not a function of activity than of age.
And THAT is something, that you CAN do something about!
Reduced Muscle Mass = Slower Metabolism
In their groundbreaking work about controlling the aging process, Biomarkers, Evans and Rosenbern (Simon and Schuster, 1991) confirm that
…Older people’s reduced muscle mass is … responsible for the gradual reduction in their basal metabolic rate.” With reduced muscle mass comes a decline in caloric demand. Keep in mind that muscle tissue is active, and comes with a steep nutritional demand. By contrast, fat tissue is less metabolically active.
(I know, you didn’t need me to tell you that!)
Interestingly, research has shown (The Weighting Game, Lawrence E. Lamb, M.D.) that muscle tissue itself maintains consistent levels of metabolic activity no matter what the age of the subject; it is simply the amount of muscle mass quite often decreases over time, due to – yes, you guessed it – decreased activity.
Practically speaking, as muscle mass decreases, we need fewer calories per day to maintain a stable body weight. That’s due to the metabolic demands of the muscle tissue itself, and the energy to rebuild and move it around, as well. The problem is that we tend to just keep eating the same as we did before we might have experienced diminishing of that prized muscle tissue. It is so much easier – and brings more eating freedom – if we just maintain some muscle by staying active!
Yes, nutrition plays a big role in weight management – but the primary solution for an “aging metabolism” is exercise.
4 Reasons Why Muscle Is So Important: In A Nutshell
- Muscle is a significant component of your energy needs; it is like money in the bank for getting and staying leaner.
- Muscle is an active tissue that is constantly renewing itself therefore requiring energy (calories).
- Muscle gives shape to your body.
- Muscle helps you perform more energetically and optimally.
There is one way to build muscle, and that is with resistance training. Personally, the workouts that I have found to deliver the most muscle-building resistance exercise are weight training, and barre-type workouts that challenge the large muscles in the legs and hips, including my own Fit Quickies™, as well as Supersets. Each has its own variety of mega-muscle work that delivers.
Create your own metabolic advantage by building and maintaining muscle mass and density! I’d like to hear about what workouts YOU enjoy for building and maintaining muscle mass and invite you to comment below.