Metabolic age…is it important and why?

I was recently asked a question about metabolic age.  Specifically, the question was “my metabolic age is 48 and I was told it could be lowered to 43. Is that possible?”

Is your metabolic age important?
Is your metabolic age important?

Metabolic age is a comparison between a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR)  against the average BMR for an age.  The calculation uses a benchmark, your age, to determine your body’s efficiency by comparing that benchmark against the average metabolic rate of different ages.  Therefore, the suggestion is if you have the same metabolism as someone younger, you would be in better shape.  However, the calculation doesn’t consider conditioning or body composition, but instead looks only at height, weight, and age. 

So, back to the question, can you lower your metabolic age.  Yes.  Within the context of the calculation the only variable you can affect is weight, so a lower weight will bring down the metabolic age based on the calculation.  The real question though is, “is that really important?”  If you are 50 years old and have the metabolic age of a 30 year old, but you’re fueling your body poorly and you’re not moving enough, it won’t make a difference.  If your metabolic age is a concern, I’d be willing to bet that you’re not really worried about that number as much as you are trying to manage your weight.

The most important thing to know about metabolic age is that you’re really trying to measure metabolism, or specifically increase metabolism.  So, what’s the best way to increase metabolism?

  • Add more lean muscle  by lifting weight:  Your body has to work harder to maintain lean muscle and that work means more calories are used.  The more calories you use the better.
  • Shed body fat:  You can accomplish this once again by lifting weight combined with the right type of cardiovascular exercise.
  • Eat better: Food is fuel and better fuel makes the engine run hotter and more efficiently.  Ultimately, having a faster metabolism than someone else doesn’t matter if you’re taking in more calories than your metabolism is burning. Keep the calories in check and keep the right mix of macronutrients along with muscle building exercise and you’re on the right track.

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