How many problems are attributed to age? Hangovers, knee pain, or an expanding midsection, just to name a few. However, a new study from Science suggests that age might just be a number after all when it comes to burning calories.
First of all, it’s important to figure out what the researchers were studying. They looked at something called total daily energy expenditure. To get that number you have to add your metabolism (the number of calories you would burn just lying on the couch) with the number of calories you burn from daily activity. This number is important because if you burn fewer calories you’re more likely to gain weight.
The study included over 6,000 participants, both male, and female, from 8 days old to 95 years. What the researchers found is quite surprising. Around 1-years-old, energy expenditure peaks. It then remains high until around the age 20. From there it drops, but here’s the catch: it doesn’t drop again until around 60 years old.
That means from age 20-60 your metabolism stays about the same. However, there’s one big caveat – muscle mass. Muscle is considered highly active tissue because it consumes a lot of energy. Fat is mostly inactive. The researchers found that the tissues in your body remain active from ages 20-60.
If you lose muscle mass, however, you lose tissue. That means your goal to maintain a healthy body weight from age 20-60 should be to gain or maintain muscle mass. No, you don’t have to be the hulk, but losing muscle mass is probably the main contributor to weight gain as you age.