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Metabolism – Does it slow down once you hit 40?

Melanie Ryan

Simplistically metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. This is a very complicated process.

Many people can feel like their metabolism has slowed down after a certain age as they feel that it is harder to lose or maintain weight. Age can be a factor involved with this - the potential reasons after 40:

  • Becoming less physically active
  • Decrease in estrogen in women
  • Increase of estrogen/decrease of testosterone in men
Besides age, there are several reasons that effect metabolism including:
  • Physical activity is a key factor, even if it’s 1 hour of light gardening, housework or stretching a day can impact your metabolism positively. The more vigorous the activity/exercise will increase your metabolism (make weight loss more achievable)
  • Food intake – If you are eating lots of high energy foods, particularly sugary foods and drinks this will affect your metabolism negatively, particularly if you are sedentary. Glucose and insulin play a large role in metabolism
  • Gender – plays a role due to the different hormones’ effect on metabolism
  • Stress – hormones such as cortisol can impact metabolism
  • Sleep – if you are not sleeping well or at the right time of night hormones ghrelin and leptin can impact metabolism
  • Pain and pain medications can play a role with metabolism. Our body will slow down our metabolic processes when we are in pain and certain pain medications can also slow our metabolism down
  • Climate can affect metabolism especially cold climates
  • Thyroid hormone controls metabolic rate - this being in balance is crucial

If you are over 40 and finding that you are starting to gain weight or you are unsuccessfully losing weight – check first your physical activity and what you are eating. But weight loss is often more than just “energy in v energy out”, so it may be worth talking to a health professional to gain a better understanding.