The Truth About Metabolic Age & Its Importance For Health

BMR

Let me begin with a pervasive thought that comes to the mind of most weight watchers: why do they have to struggle so much to maintain or lose weight? How come people around them effortlessly maintain their weight even after loading calories?

The answer is metabolic age – a key factor in your fitness and overall well-being.  

Metabolic age goes beyond chronological age to give valuable insights into metabolism, the body’s ability to burn calories and internal processes. Understanding metabolic age can help combat age-related challenges, take fitness to another level and improve longevity. 

Whether the fitness goal is to get rid of those extra pounds, build lean muscle, or maintain a balanced lifestyle, understanding your metabolic age can be a game-changer.

What is Metabolic Age?

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Fitness experts and nutritionists always talk about metabolism. Irrespective of your fitness goal, having a high metabolic rate is good.

But this review will talk about metabolic age. 

You have reached the right page if this term is new for you.

It is essential to understand BMR before discussing metabolic age.

Metabolic age is based on our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), which indicates the number of calories our body burns at rest. Typically, it is the number of calories our body needs to do all involuntary functions of the body, like digestion, respiration, cell synthesis, etc.

Metabolic age is an excellent indicator of the level of fitness. It is important to note that metabolic age is different from chronological age.

Chronological age gives the total number of years since birth but doesn’t indicate our metabolic health. One can determine the metabolic age by comparing own BMR to the average BMR of the chronological age group.

BMR helps manage our daily calorie intake. Whether the fitness goal is to lose or gain weight, BMR plays a significant role. For making any changes in the existing body composition, BMR is required. 

How to calculate BMR?

Source: Freepik

Calculating BMR is the first step to determining metabolic age. BMR is based on various factors like age, gender, and weight. It doesn’t consider the physical activity level.

To estimate the BMR, one can use Harris-Benedict Equation 1. It is different for males and females. The higher the BMR, the better the metabolic age.

  • Male: 66.5 + (13.75 x kg) + (5.003 x cm) – (6.775 x age)
  • Female: 655.1 + (9.563 x kg) + (1.850 x cm) – (4.676 x age)

If you are physically active, it is required to multiply your BMR with the multiplication factor (based on exercise intensity and frequency) to know your daily calorie needs.

  • If the fitness goal is maintaining weight, total calorie intake should be the same.
  • If you aim to lose weight, create a deficit in the total number of calories.
  • One needs to consume more calories than the daily requirement to gain weight.

What does your metabolic age reveal about your overall health?

Metabolic age is BMR compared to others within the same group. It primarily focuses on muscle and fat-free mass and body composition. 

Besides muscle and fat, other factors affecting metabolic age are hormones, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. 

The lower the metabolic age, the fitter and healthier the person is. Therefore, if your metabolic age is similar to your chronological age, your health status may also be identical.

Consider it a good sign if it is less than the chronological age. It is because muscle burns more than fat, and people with higher muscle mass tend to expend more calories at rest than people with a high body fat percentage. For example, an adult may have an adolescent’s metabolic age, meaning the body’s ability to burn calories is superb.

Thus people with higher metabolic age should work on their diet and exercise routine. 

Which is the best way to lower the Metabolic Age?

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Low BMR is generally associated with an increased risk of metabolic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disorders. Therefore, having a lower metabolic age is always better.

Let’s discuss a few approaches that may help boost metabolism and reduce metabolic age effectively.

Increase Protein Intake

Source: Freepik

Our body burns more calories in digesting protein-rich foods than fats and carbohydrates. Therefore, it is good to include lean protein sources in the diet, like eggs, fish, protein powder, low-fat dairy, soybean, protein powders, nuts, and seeds. 

It may help boost lean muscle mass, reduce fat, and maintain healthy body composition. A recent study conducted in 2020 stated that a high-protein diet is a fruitful and safe tool to prevent a decrease in fat-free mass and enhance metabolic rate 2.

WeightLifting

Source: Freepik

Another best way to reduce metabolic age is to lift weights. Weightlifting helps boost BMR while burning fat. Regular resistance training with bands, weight training with dumbbells, or strength training builds muscle with time and improves our body’s ability to burn calories much faster.

Focus on Sleep Health

Sleep is significantly essential to have a lower metabolic age. Researchers believe quality sleep is necessary as it impacts energy metabolism, and lack of adequate sleep is linked to weight gain. 

Poor sleep might lead to muscle loss as rest is required for adequate muscle recovery to increase muscle mass and Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). 

Lack of sleep accelerates ageing and may cause weight gain and other metabolic disorders.

Consume Complex Carbohydrates

Besides exercise and sleep, diet also influences our metabolic age. One should meet daily calorie needs from healthy sources, not junk foods.

Focusing on complex carb sources in the diet is good, like whole grains, oats, millet, etc. They are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. The fibre content provides satiety with fewer calories, thus decreasing overall calorie intake. 

Moreover, our body expends more calories while metabolizing complex carbs than simple ones. Hence, complex carbs are advantageous for preventing metabolic slowdown.

Eat Healthy & Nutritious Foods

The diet should include nutritious foods from all food groups. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and dietary fibre are equally crucial for energy metabolism. 

Insufficiency of any nutrients might reduce the efficiency of the body’s processes leading to a sluggish metabolism. Therefore, one should keep a healthy dietary approach to keep diseases at bay and live a healthy lifestyle.

In case of any concerns regarding your BMR or metabolic age, consult an expert or a healthcare professional.

Conclusion

Don’t settle for a sluggish metabolism or a one-size-fits-all approach to health. Armed with this newfound learning, it is time to take action and embark on a transformation journey towards a healthier and more dynamic you. 

What should your metabolic age be?

Ideally, your metabolic age should be similar to or less than chronological. For example, if your chronological age is 30, the metabolic age of 30 or 28 is considered good.

What does it mean when your metabolic age is high?

A metabolic age higher than the chronological age indicates an urgent need to work on dietary habits, lifestyle, and exercise routines.

How do you improve your metabolic age?

Tips to improve metabolic age:
Consume protein-rich foods.
Exercise regularly.
Maintain a sleep schedule.
Stay hydrated.
Prefer complex carbs over refined ones.
Strength Training.
Replace sugary foods and beverages with healthy substitutes.

Is metabolic age an accurate measurement of health?

Metabolic age is deemed a reliable health measure as it considers age, height, weight, gender, muscle mass, and visceral fat to estimate fitness.

What is metabolic age? How is it different from the natural age?

Metabolic age used BMR to define health and fitness level. It differs from our biological or natural age, which is simply our age in calendar years.

Why is my metabolic age higher than my actual age?

Having a high metabolic age than the actual age is not good as it may be due to faulty eating habits, high body fat percentage, sedentary lifestyle, or metabolic disorder.

Is a metabolic age of 18 for a 22-year-old good?

Yes, because it is lower than the actual age.

Is it normal to have a metabolic age of 26 at 33?

Yes, a 33-year-old can have a metabolic age of 26, indicating fitness.

What are some of the best ways to lower your metabolic age?

Tips to lower metabolic age:
Consume protein-rich foods.
Exercise regularly.
Maintain a sleep schedule.
Stay hydrated.
Prefer complex carbs over refined ones.
Strength Training.
Replace sugary foods and beverages with healthy substitutes.

I am 16 years old, with a metabolic age of 37. How is that?

It may be due to faulty eating habits, high body fat percentage, sedentary lifestyle, or metabolic disorder. Improving dietary choices, exercising regularly, and maintaining an active lifestyle are advisable.

References
  1. Mifflin, M. D., St Jeor, S. T., Hill, L. A., Scott, B. J., Daugherty, S. A., & Koh, Y. O. (1990, February 1). A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition51(2), 241–247[]
  2. Moon, J., & Koh, G. (2020, September 30). Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. Journal of Obesity &Amp; Metabolic Syndrome29(3), 166–173[]
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