New research suggests metabolism has been misunderstood
A new study has upended conventional thinking about our metabolism.
Recent findings published in the journal Science show that human metabolism peaks at about age one. The body’s metabolism then decreases by roughly 3% annually until the age of 20. After that, it plateaus from age 20 to 60 and then declines again at a rate of less than 1% annually.
A 40-year plateau
“It has long been believed that metabolism drops off fairly significantly throughout our adult years. In fact, it was not uncommon to attribute the ‘freshman 15’ or other milestone weight gain events to slowing metabolism,” said Alexander Ford, DO, an osteopathic family physician and registered dietitian. “This study throws those theories out the window.”
The research showed that babies burn calories around 50 percent faster than adults, underscoring the importance of infant nutrition and meeting the caloric needs of growing babies.
The findings of this study also suggest that there may be other contributing factors to weight gain, diet, and metabolism in the aging process.
Foods that support healthy weight loss
Experts have touted several foods for their impact on metabolism and weight loss, and fiber has long been identified as a crucial nutrient in weight reduction. Fiber is linked to satiety, weight management, and bowel regulation, amongst other areas.
“Avocado is high in fiber and contains healthy fat, both of which may help with weight loss,” notes Dr. Ford. “Just one cup of sliced avocado contains as much as 10 grams of fiber, meeting almost 1/3rd of the suggested total daily fiber intake.”
He also recommends integrating chili peppers into your diet because they contain a natural chemical compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to aid in raising metabolism and is associated with decreasing hunger by lowering ghrelin, a hunger hormone in our body.
Moreover, research involving ginger and green tea has examined their antioxidant-rich profiles and their inherent anti-inflammatory and weight loss properties.
Sleep, activity, and healthy eating
While the new study has experts rethinking the impact of metabolism on weight gain and weight loss, overall guidance has not changed. Getting enough exercise (2-3 hours a week), sleep (7-9 hours per night), and eating a healthy diet are still the secrets to successful weight management and wellbeing as we age.
“As further research is done regarding metabolism, it could help us better understand the relationship between lifestyle and life cycle,” says. Dr. Ford. “But the fundamentals remain: if you’re interested in improving your health and nutrition, for most Americans that means adding more fiber, getting additional sleep, and integrating more movement into your daily life.”