“It seems that as soon as I turned 40 my metabolism crashed, no matter what I do, I can’t lose any weight! “
Ahhhhh, ok… this one right here is right up our ally at RTC. I mean this is exactly who we focus our training towards, those in their 30’s-50’s
But let me give you a bit of background about this person, and I want to see if you can figure out what is going on.
-Female, 40 years old
-5’5″ and weighs 175
-Wants to lose 35-40lbs because that is where she felt her best at
-Currently works out 4xweek with a combination of cardio and some resistance training
-No known medical conditions
-Last physical was 2 months prior to us talking, and the dr did mention hormones were a bit on the low side (in particular testosterone) but nothing prescribed
-Trakes her calories on occasion and says if anything she’s an under-eater of less than 1000 cals a day.
She commented that as she got older, the pounds seem to creep on (about 2-3 pounds a year) over the course of 5 years, but once she hit 40, she felt like 10pounds came on out of nowhere, and no matter what, she does, she can’t get the weight off.
Ok, so this is a lot of info, and before I let you think about this, I want to give you a few more bits of info.
I had asked WHAT changed in the last 10 years from her early 30’s till now, her early 40’s, and the big three were:
-Feeling more tired (this can also be due to the extra weight)
-Work demands increased
She had commented that when she got older and had kids, her life got busier, but she still made time to workout, granted not as much as pre-kiddos.
Think on this a bit, what do you think has happened that even working out 4xweek and eating a moderately healthy lifestyle has kept her weight from budging?
Answer: It’s not just metabolism or age, but her lifestyle. She’s not as active as she thought and was eating more food than she realized.
Always remember in fitness, it’s rarely one thing but a combination of things.
Since this is a two-part answer, let’s break it down to both the workouts and the eating and see how that affects her metabolism.
To get an idea of how much and how hard people are working out, we use heart rate monitors to measure this. It’s not always about how often you workout but how intense the workout is.
We didn’t have access to a heart rate monitor at this time, so we used a combination of an apple watch and a pedometer.
Side Note: Apple tends to be very generous with calorie estimations for workouts, but it’s still a good start.
We used the apple watch to measure how many calories she was burning in a workout, how long and heart rate ranges. Then we used a pedometer as well to measure daily activity. Yes, I know that Apple does have a pedometer feature in it, but as I mentioned, they tend to be very generous with estimations.
What we found was while she was working out 4x a week, the workouts were on average about 40min and her intensity wasn’t as high as she thought.
In her case, we measured intensity by how high the heart rate got AND for how long.
She tended to stay at the 65-78% range and rarely ever reached 80% or more for an extended period of time.
Side Note: I’ll write more about using an HR monitor at a later date because if used right, it’s a fantastic tool.
All said she burned, according to Apple, an average of 300cals per workout or 1200cals per week.
None of this is bad! Not what so ever! But for her to lose the extra weight, we needed more.
Our first goal was to get her to burn 2000cals a week (then 2500cals a week). She had a few ways she could do this:
- Add in an extra day.
- Make her workouts longer.
- Burn more calories in her 40min.
- A combination of all of the above.
She started by making her workouts 50 minutes and striving to burn more in each workout. We also had her add in strength training with HIIT work.
NOW… what about the pedometer? Why did we use that?
I wanted to see how active she was during the day; I recommend that the average person hit about 5,000 steps a day (this can include workouts), but if you want to lose weight, then 7,000-10,000 is the big number.
Her Apple watch had her at 4,000 and her pedometer had her at 3600… so she was somewhere in the middle.
This was a hard part for her to understand because she was so tired at the end of the day that she felt she was WAY more active than that.
Well… this is what happens when we get older. We are NOT as active as we THINK we are. We are more mentally active but not as physically active. Mental activity is STILL exhausting, no doubt, but mental exhaustion doesn’t burn the same amount of calories as getting up and moving.
That’s the catch-22 about getting older. As we take on more responsibilities, these extra responsibilities tend to be ones that make us less physically active but more mentally active.
So, she WAS active, very mentally engaged and challenged, leaving her tired at the end of the day, but when we compared that to how much her body moved, then that is where we saw the disconnect.
(Too bad thinking doesn’t burn more calories. lol)
If you have read any of our material, we always want first to know WHAT you are eating, so we know what needs to be fixed.
We can’t fix what we don’t know.
We had her track her food for 10 days, tracking EVERYTHING that she put into her mouth—snacks, drinks, meals, alcohol, etc.
After 10 days, what we noticed was:
-Very inconsistent with her eating. Some days she was at 800 cals, others at 1900.
-Very low protein. On average less than 70g a day.
-Lots of processed snacks. Over 600 cals a day on average; this was a shocker to her.
-Lots of veggies. (This was good!)
She was in a situation that we call overfed undernourished—overeating the bad stuff and not enough of the good stuff.
Now, none of this is bad! I stress this to everyone; it’s NOT BAD to eat this way! You are not judged here on how you choose to eat. Just for her to get where she wants to go, we had to show her how to eat differently.
The great thing with her was since she was a seasoned gym rat; she knew what had to happen and making changes was not difficult for her.
We had her start with the following:
-3 solid meals a day consisting of 30g of protein from any lean meat of choice and 2 cups of veggies (since she was a veggie-lover, this wasn’t hard).
-In her last meal, we would add in some roasted potatoes to keep her feeling full and help curb some of her snacky snack Barbie habits. It would look like 4oz of beef, 1 cup of veggies (roasted), then 1 cup of roasted potatoes.
-We also added in one protein shake after each of her workouts.
On days that she was running short on time that morning, she would prepare a Super Shake (you can download that in our Free Help Kit HERE) to make sure she was getting what her body needed to keep her feeling satisfied and keep her blood sugar in check.
8 Weeks Later…
She lost 8lbs in 8 weeks. Not bad, but we were shooting for more.
What we found that we had to do with her was bump up her activity even MORE for her body to see better results. We ended up at 60 minutes 5x a week with three 30 minute strength sessions followed by 30min HIIT session and TWO hourlong recovery cardio and ab sessions.
On days that she could work out longer (Saturday and Sunday), she would go 90 minutes on her cardio days.
After that increase in her activity level, she lost another 8lbs in 6 weeks totaling 16lbs of fat weight in 4 months. At that rate, we figured within a year, she would be in a better spot.
I will admit she was an easier one to work with due to her workout history.
Metabolism and Age
While yes, it is true that your metabolism does slow down with age, it’s not as much as we think. It’s how active we are as we get older that has a bigger determining factor on our metabolism or metabolic rate.
So if you are in your 40’s and you think things have gone to hell, the first thing I’m going to recommend is going to the doctor, get your blood work and hormones checked to be sure that your not operating with a handicap (such as low T, limited thyroid function).
Then make it a JOB to move with a purpose for 60 minutes a day, including forms of strength training. Face it, most of us could stand to be stronger anyway. I never heard anyone complain they were too strong lol.
All in all…. getting older is a privilege that many don’t get to experience, and many of us are lucky to make it this far, so don’t look at getting older as a bad thing.
The cool thing that I have found over the years is that with the increase in medical technology, health care availability, and education that MANY people are in better shape in their 40’s, even 50’s than they were in their 20’s
From my experience, many people don’t even peak until the late 40’s now.
Your body and metabolism, as you get older, just operate a bit differently. Take the time to learn it and give it what it needs to function, and you’ll love the results.
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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