Wellness Wednesday: What Metabolism Myth Was Just Busted?

Although people gain on average more than a pound and a half a year during adulthood, they can no longer attribute it to slowing metabolisms.

Gina Kolata, The New York Times, August 12, 2021

Metabolism steady through adulthood

My friend Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness, brought this new information to my attention.

In a recent New York Times article, What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong, science reporter Gina Kolata writes that a recent study published in Science Magazine opens to question the belief that the rate at which our bodies burn calories slows as we age. Instead, the study found, adult metabolism holds steady from age 20 to 60. So much for blaming middle-age spread on our slowing bodies.

No difference between men and women

The study also found no significant difference between men’s and women’s metabolic rates.

Everything changes at 60

On a more sobering note, there is a big slow-down after 60, with a 20 percent drop by age 95.

There is a myth of retaining youth. That’s not what the biology says. In and around age 60, things start to change. There is a time point when things are no longer as they used to be.

Rozalyn Anderson, a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, quoted in What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong.

So, there’s no blaming a slow metabolism before you’re 60, and then everything falls apart. Great.

What can we do? Move more, eat better, and sleep longer.

Move more

Exercise is the key!

Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness

Getting off the couch immediately improves our body’s ability to burn calories and break down body fat, and to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. Get a fitness tracker to see how many steps you take each day. Information is power! Challenge yourself to do a little more and see if you can get to 10,000.

Eat better

USDA myplate.gov
USDA myplate.gov

Remember the old food pyramid? It’s now been simplified (and assigned portion control) as a small dinner plate. (Yes, plates have expanded in size along with our bodies!) A diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean protein is the key to good nutrition. And drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Find out more at myplate.gov.

When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients. Make every bite count.


Sleep longer

Getting enough sleep is an essential part of a well-rounded health routine — We’ve all had those sluggish mornings that just beg for breakfasts loaded with sugar and fat, which send us crashing hours later.

Establish a screen-free bedtime routine to help you disengage from the day. I drink a calming cup of Sleepytime tea and take a relaxing bath before I turn in. And I sleep more deeply since I began using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to reduce apnea interruptions. Martin Sheen’s character, Robert, now sports one on Grace and Frankie. Here’s why. A short Season 7 is up!

My Snoring Solution

About this time last year, I bragged that I was the most boring patient in Palm Beach County. Never a day in the hospital. Original parts. No chronic disease. Boring. 

Except for my ONE problem. I snored. It was annoying my husband, and it had even started to wake ME up. Most nights, we slept in separate bedrooms. As things go, not a bad solution. 

But then, we made travel plans: a two-week to cruise across the Atlantic, plus one more week exploring the fjords of Norway by ship, and then a whole month in a canal-side apartment in Amsterdam. It was the trip of a lifetime. 

IF we survived 28 long nights in tight quarters. The snoring needed to end. 

So, I filled out a questionnaire at my doctor’s about something called sleep apnea. I had it.

  • Then, I got plugged into electrodes for an overnight study to see how often my sleep was disturbed. A lot. 
  • Finally, I did one more overnight with a hose on my face to determine if pouring air down my pipes might keep me asleep and quiet. It did. 

I breathlessly awaited the arrival of my Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.

The five-pound miracle worker arrived in a handy traveling case just in time for the trip. I placed it on my side of the cruise ship bed where, every night for two weeks, it turned me into Darth Vader. “I am your wife. Kiss me goodnight.” It was a pleasant surprise to learn that my husband could find me under all that paraphernalia, and an even bigger surprise that we both slept well. No one was banished to the balcony or, worse, below deck with the crew. 

It was a marvelous two weeks. Then, we got to Amsterdam and all hell broke loose.