What is the connection between metabolism and your weight woes

Lots of people sail through life without any worries about weight.

Their weight settles into a comfortable place that looks good and feels good. It doesn’t take much thought or effort to keep it there. All is well…

All is well until the 40th or so birthday, and this applies to the guys as well as the gals. After a lifetime of blissful weight maintenance something funny – well, strange and really not funny at all, starts to happen.

Shirts stop fitting well. They button but there’s gaps between the buttons. Pants get tight. A roll around the middle that’s never been there before becomes noticeable and it just seems to grow bigger everyday.

You’re not eating anything different or any more than you have always been eating.

That must mean it’s your aging metabolism. It’s grinding to a halt and that’s making you fat, right?

We’re led to believe it’s our slower metabolism, but the reality is, it’s just us who’ve slowed down. We need to get moving again.


Wrong. We’re learning a lot about metabolism and discovering that some widely-held beliefs are not accurate. New research and modern technology allows us to unravel some of the mysteries that, in the past, we answered with theories rather than scientific knowledge.

Metabolism is misunderstood and blamed for things it doesn’t do or on which it has very little effect.

Resting metabolic rate is a measure of how much energy we expend at rest. It’s determined by a combination of factors:

  • height
  • sex
  • the genes you got from your parents

It can’t be altered much, no matter what you do. I know, surprising, right?

It does slow as we age, but not to the extent that would make you fat. You can’t blame weight gain on your metabolism.

We recognize that our pets get less active as they get older, but don’t see it with ourselves.

Metabolism is the calories your body burns to sustain itself.

The majority of the calories you burn every day are burned by organs that are working all the time whether you’re awake or asleep.

“Brain function makes up close to 20% of” resting metabolic rate, Dr. Claude Bouchard, a professor of genetics and nutrition at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University, told The Los Angeles Times.

“Next is the heart, which is beating all the time and accounts for another 15-20%. The liver, which also functions at rest, contributes another 15-20%. Then you have the kidneys and lungs and other tissues, so what remains is muscle, contributing only 20-25% of total resting metabolism,” Bouchard said.”

Your metabolism slows, that much is true, how much slower isn’t enough to make you gain weight, however. Weight gain is because of something else. We get older; we move less. The calorie balance we maintained with our eating and moving habits becomes unbalanced. Moving less means we need fewer calories, but we continue to eat as though we’re still burning them up with activity.

Some people try to increase their metabolism with green tea. Don’t bother because it doesn’t work. Caffeine, chili peppers, and the stuff you saw on the internet won’t speed up your metabolism either.

Don’t let that discourage you. It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about the weight gain. It doesn’t mean you have to start eating differently to cut calories although it’s a good idea to monitor what you’re eating.

Some folks have tried eating 6 smaller meals as a metabolism boosting strategy. Don’t bother, unless it suits you better than 3 meals, because it doesn’t make any difference. All you have to do is get moving and be mindful about when and what you’re eating. 

Don’t waste your time trying to increase your muscle mass so to significantly increase your resting metabolism.

You probably can’t increase your muscle mass enough to make a real difference, but that’s not to say that engaging in muscle-building exercise isn’t a good idea. It is. Strength training is a healthy habit that positively affects your agility and balance.

Cardio exercise burns calories and it doesn’t have to be boring. Cardio or aerobic exercise is anything that uses large muscle groups repetitively for a sustained amount of time. Ideally find activities that are fun so that you consistently do it 30 to 60 minutes at least three days a week, although more frequently is better.

No need to stay home, or hide. Get out and have fun doing the activities you enjoy.

Contrary to what the media is trying to tell you, your body is a perfect beach body – all bodies are perfect beach bodies. Go to the beach. Swim, play and have fun while you keep your healthy with regular physical activity.


If you want to end your weight woes forever, I’ll share the magic formula. The formula to manage your weight is eat well and keep moving.
Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.