High Metabolism When Young & Slow Metabolism When Old? Inevitable?

October 7, 2009

I am sure you have heard the excuse of a slow metabolism as a reason for putting on weight as people get older.

I remember being pretty thin as a teenager and older relatives telling me to “enjoy it while you can”. They would say things like, “I was thin just like you until I hit 30, then my metabolism slowed down”. I was told “just wait until you are 30, then you will understand what we are talking about”.

So I am rolling up on 40 and didn’t put on any weight in my 30’s. I waited for that big metabolism slow down to hit me, but it never really happened. Was I just lucky or is something else going on here?

fast and slow metabolism

[I love black and white photos, especially when they are well done. I chose this particular photo because I love the lighting and shadowing. Plus this older gentleman looks great!]

It is True That Young People Have Less Body Fat on Average

According to the book Exercise Physiology college-aged men carry 15% body fat, while older men carry around 25% body fat. Women are closer to 25% body fat at a younger age and move up to 35% as they reach age 50.

I also have read elsewhere (can’t remember where) that men on average put on one pound of fat per year from the age of 35 to the age of 60…and that women put on less than one pound per year, but more in proportion to their overall weight.

Fat-Free Mass Burns the Same Amount, Regardless of Age

In 1950, Dr. Ancel Keys led a study with several other researchers called “Energy Requirements of Adults”. They found that regardless of age, the daily energy requirements (calories burned) per pound of fat-free mass was the same.

So a 20 year old and a 65 year old will burn roughly the same amount of calories if they are of the same height, weight, and body fat percentage. So it isn’t that the body is slowing down the calorie burning process…it is due to another factor.

Maintain Your Muscle to Maintain Your Metabolism

This is as simple as it gets. As adults become less physically active, their muscles shrink due to not being used. The combination of less fat free mass and less activity leads to inevitable weight gain (unless they reduce their calorie intake over time).

The only reason why older people on average tend to burn less calories than younger people of the same weight…is that the older people have less lean body mass.

Is It Extremely Difficult to Maintain Lean Body Mass?

Honestly, maintaining muscle is really easy to do and doesn’t take much effort at all. Maintaining the muscle you have is as simple as doing just about any type of resistance training a couple of times per week.

It doesn’t require a perfect diet and it doesn’t require a massive amount of time in the gym. The only exception is for people who like to carry large amounts of muscle on their frame, which I highly suggest you avoid…especially if you want to age gracefully.

For those who think maintaining muscle is tough, read this article I wrote about recent study on the subject: Maintain Muscle Mass On 800 Calories Per Day?

“Your Metabolism Won’t Slow Down if You Don’t”

This quote is from Clarence Bass, who I believe is in his 60’s or 70’s now…is still at a 6-8% body fat level. This quote from Clarence is one of the best motto’s I have heard for staying lean for a lifetime.

This is why exercise is so important…you can get lean with diet alone, but you will have a tough time staying lean if you don’t exercise. If you just diet, you will eventually lose lean body mass and in a few decades your metabolism will eventually slow down.

For long term health as well as looking and feeling great as you age, exercise is extremely important.

Note: I wrote this in response to the Time Magazine article that I referenced in my previous post: “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” – Analyzing This Time Magazine Article I didn’t just want to challenge this time magazine article…I wanted to state a strong case for exercise.

I think the author was thinking short-term when he was saying exercise didn’t work for fat loss. If you want to stay lean for a lifetime, you need to develop an exercise habit of some sort…period.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt October 7, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Awesome post Rusty!

I hate older, ‘inactive’ people who blame their weight gain on age!


A great example of somebody who got in the best shape of their life, later on in life, is Sly Stallone.

He was relativley ‘stocky’ and was carrying alot of bodyfat until he was 30 (that is how old he was when he made the first Rocky).

Take a look at how lean he is in Rocky 3 & 4!! He was in his mid 30’s when he made those movies.

Also, he is 60 odd now, and take a look at the kind of shape he is in for his new movie ‘The Expendables’!

I will NEVER allow myself to get fatter, just because I am getting older!!

The bottom line: That way of thinking IE ‘I’m getting fatter ‘cos I am getting older, its inevitable’. Is as archaic as the Bodybuilding mentality that most ‘uneducated’ people still follow EG Monday: Chest and Back etc, loads of Protein, shakes…

All the readers of this site know better than that!

Good on you Rusty. Keep up the good work. I have reffered everybody I know to this site to get some ‘proper’ info health, fitness and nutrition.

Anyway, thats enough ranting from me!

Chat soon.


Michael - The Fat Loss Authority October 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm

If I had a nickel for every time I heard this cop-out-of-an-excuse I’d be a very wealthy man.

Even without looking into the research I can confidently say that at least 90% of those people who blurted out this excuse to me were inactive individuals. To compound the problem, there diet was usually poor. Talk about double whammy!

Good post as usual Rusty.

randomhero October 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm

@matt- Sly is now on HGH or something like that. He got caught down in Australia with it.

Monica October 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Great post Rusty! I love this quote “Your Metabolism Won’t Slow Down if You Don’t”. I wanted to know if changing hormone levels have any effect, especially in women after menopause – especially around the middle? Or is this also just due to slowing down over the years?

Brandon October 8, 2009 at 12:07 am

I just say its a bummer for people out there who keep blaming their weight gain on age..now they have no excuse…

Sue October 8, 2009 at 12:40 am

I do think changing hormone levels are going to have an effect.

Chris October 8, 2009 at 3:15 am

Clarence bass is over 70. He has the most amazing physique for someone his age. He has some great advice – I don’t agree with all of it, but his best point I believe is the one he makes about designing your own systems. Read all the advice, then take the bits that resonate with you and create your own personal system.

Thomas Kovacs October 8, 2009 at 8:35 am

i was wondering, is it true that muscle wraps around your bones sort of like ribbons, and that as you age your body loses the ability to “keep the ribbons tight” (sort of like an old mummy or something…)?

As a result older people may have a lot of muscle but it “hangs”, especially in the chest and doesn’t look as good, to me at least. or does this only happen with medium to large amounts of muscle on your frame?

Shaun October 8, 2009 at 9:24 am

Some good points here. But what about the genes factor. That has a lot to do with how your body will develop with age. I have uncles and grandad even that are still slim over 40. Not too active either. I preach metabolism issues to my readers all the time and try to help and understand everyones situation as they will all be different.

But overall everything you state here is more or so correct.

Dan October 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

Totally agree with you on this one. All I have to do is look at my older relatives, and it’s easy to see how eating and exercise habits have influenced their body composition over a lifetime. Relatively clean eating coupled with moderate levels of exercise will keep you lean, strong, and healthy for a lifetime!

Of course I think it’s always good to have role models to look up to and learn from. Why reinvent the wheel, ya know? If you don’t know anyone personally, then take notes from guys like Art De Vany, Jack Lalanne, or your grandfather if he is still in shape!

But the bottom line in my opinion still revolves around “eat less, exercise more”. Simple advice for simple results

The Spaniard October 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

Ok, I decided to write about this post because I am a little bit surprised with some of the responses, and very specificaly with what Matt has to say.
Matt, never use an actor as an example, and especially, don’t use Stallone as an example. Why did he get fit? Because he was going to do 2 movies: a boxer and a green beret. After that he saw that the only way he was going to be successful as an actor was by keeping not only in shape but also trying to achieve Arnold’s physique…just like Van Damme did later. And now at his age, and seeing all the plastic surgery he has on his face I wonder what is real in his body and what has been enhanced by Nip/Tuck doctors. So please, use another example.
Also, when you say that you will never allow yourself to get fatter…how old are you? Are you married? Do you have kids?
Now, I don’t want to make this look as a personal attack against Matt, so this also goes to the rest of you. In my 20’s, up until my son was born (at the age of 37) I had always been in very good shape. I was playing rugby, futbol, basketball, golf and I used to go regularly to the gym. I had to work harder than some guys because I always suffered from slow metabolism and a very slow heart rate (this was good because by the time other people were gasping for air I was still warming up…but at the same time it was bad because I had to work double in order to break a sweat). Back then I also used to say that by the age of 40 I would never look like those 40 year old married men with children and a happy belly…guess what…my son was born and all went to hell. I devoted myself entirely to him in his first year of life (and I still do now, at the age of 6). Goodbye to rugby, futbol and basketball. The gym? If I was able to sleep for more than 6 hours I would go..didn’t happen too often. If you add to all of this the fact that my metabolism became even slower, stress, your routines change (school, take him to Martial Arts, etc), you can understand why I started adding weight. Did I eat bad? No. We hardly eat out and my wife can cook.
Do I have any regrets? No. I am not obese, just 15 to 20 pounds heavier than when I was in my 20’s, when I had no responsibilitites towards myself or others, stress, and worries. I would love to lose weight, take off all the extra pounds I have added in the past six years, but, if that means spending less time with my son and wife because I have to work out hard, or having to sacrifice meals that I like (and we are talking Spain) then I say screw it.
Could anyone tell me if Stallone with all his millions has the same daily stress and worries as any of us?

Rafi Bar-Lev at Passionate Fitness October 8, 2009 at 11:54 am


Awesome article. I love your articles that focus on looking towards long-term fitness instead of only the near future.



Diana October 8, 2009 at 11:54 am

Very interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

deb October 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm

My experience is that the slower metabolism happens. Every weight gain has occurred in giant spurts -without a change in diet or activity level. Accompanying each gain was a drop in average body temperature and other signs of a slowing metabolism.

Really. As a way-too-skinny teenager who had not gained weight in 5 years one spring I gained 45 pounds in about 6 weeks. Again, when 27, with no change in activity or diet I gained 20 pounds. We won’t talk about menopause. It was not pretty.

That said, the effects can be reversed by exercising, but it means regularly INCREASING the intensity of said exercise as you age.

deb October 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

@matt. Stallone is on test and hgh. and who knows what else.

Dave October 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

People do not gain excess weight because they’re inactive. Nor is it because they eat too much. It’s Carbohydrates, especially the refined ones.

It seems to go against logic until you look at the science of fat metabolism.

Check out “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. He did 7 solid years of research on every aspect of nutrition, weight, and health.

Jaison - Seattle Strength Coach October 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

One of many excuses that people come up with.

I heard a fairly new one recently, “When the weather gets colder, I put on more body fat because it wants to go into hibernation mode.”

Good stuff Rusty!

Helder October 8, 2009 at 2:28 pm

“Your Metabolism Won’t Slow Down if You Don’t” This just says it all, keep an active Life, keep lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises, and keep a clean diet, and you’ll be fine with age.

Very good post Rusty, Life can be fully lived until we’re very old

Everyone should read this ๐Ÿ™‚

Kat October 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm

This article is encouraging. I esp. like that quote by Mr. Bass, gonna use that one.
But my question is this: what about aches and pains, particularly back pain; is that inevitable as you age regardless of your activity levels?
I’ve got aging parents (in their mid 50’s and early 60’s) who are active and for the most part have always been but have pains that put them out of commission for a day or two when they’ve worked hard (vigorous yard work, home building projects, etc). They tell me that they are my future although I resistance train, run, swim, etc. and am in my mid 30’s.
Is this true? Or will only time tell? What to you think?

chris October 8, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I can only speak from my personal experience but I feel metabolsim slows down significantly over time. I am three weeks short of 60 and the amount of work and attention I have to pay to diet, training etc to stay lean is dramatically more than I did in my younger days. When I was 30 I could out train a bad diet. Pushing 60 I definitely can’t.

Norbi October 8, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I wouldn’t know anything about this as I’m in my early 20s.

Thomas Kovacs,
are you Hungarian? ๐Ÿ™‚

Marion October 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm

To the Spaniard,

I can understand your devotion to your son, but if you don’t devote a little me-time for you, then in the long run you will hurt your son. As you have stated you have put on weight and don’t have much time for the gym. I have 3 daughters who are now teenagers. I had 3 kids in 4 years. What I did, was make sure to do something physical with my girls every day. Pull them in the wagon, go for a long walk with them in the carriage, push them on the swings etc. As they got older I would play tag, basketball, race against them or any other thing that included running around. I now work full time and spend my lunch hour working out at a gym following alot of Rusty’s advice, as well as my own research on fitness. The benefits to me staying in shape is that at 41, I can still beat my girls in some of those sports mentioned. I’m in shape, and look young for my age. People never guess me to be 41, if anything, they think I’m about 33. Now, I don’t know your life specifically, but, a parent who is consciencely healthy and active, promotes healthy active kids. My girls are very active playing sports, skiing, hiking, swimming at the beach, etc. Even if you just spend 20 minutes a day doing something physical – this will help. Parents are the best example for their kids. I have even pushed my husband this summer to lose 26lbs through more physical activity. I want to live a long healthy life so that I may enjoy my kids, grandkids, etc. Plus, I want to be able to kick my grandkids butts too some day in basketball and races ๐Ÿ˜‰ (only when they are old enough for me to beat them!)

Josh October 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Great post Rusty!
Clarence Bass is 71 or 72 now. He is seriously one of the Jedi masters at staying lean. I highly recommend his books to everybody. Bass is the first to talk about what he calls “the ownership principle.” meaning that he does not want you to do exactly what he does rather take what you find useful from the material and apply it. He maintains a website that is a treasure trove and has hundreds of articles up covering topics from training to diet. Again some people might not agree with everything he says (Which I believe Bass would say is the point) but it is hard to argue with a man in his 70’s who has a body that would be the envy of most in their 20s and 30s.

Constance October 8, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Thanks for answering my previous question about incline. I am setting it at 2 and I already notice it feels more natural.

One more question for you – what effect will increasing the incline more than 2 have? is it even better? or is 2 the ideal incline when working legs to keep them lean?

Thanks in advanced for any insight, if anyone else has an opinion on this I would like to hear it.


Tonia October 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Hi Rusty,

I agree to a large extent, but as The Spaniard pointed out, being in tip top shape can to a large extent be a factor of the mental and physical. The mental because of discipline and will power to say no to extra servings, junk food etc, and the physical to exercise. Those two days can take a back seat when life throws some curve balls at one.

That being said, could you do a post on the motivation/discipline to not eat too much? How do you deal with not scarfing down all in sight esp on days when one is simply tired of watching what one eats? It would also be nice to see comments on how others deal with the adundance of food around us and not give into temptation.


Matt October 8, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Whoah! What a backlash!

Alright guys, I know Stallone is on HGH and god knows what else but what I am saying is that at the time of shooting Rocky, he doesn’t look like he was to me and was in pretty good shape. Thats all.

Also, to ‘The Spaniard’, I think I touched a nerve there. Apologies.

FitJerk - Flawless Fitness October 9, 2009 at 12:24 am

AND people also need to realize that it TAKES calories to BURN calories. This means eating properly portioned food over a constant period of time will keep that metabolism working in your favor, regardless of age.

Anyone see that bodybuilding contest they had in Japan? You had to be 70+ to enter and those dudes put a lot of men in their 30’s to shame. Whether they used drugs or not I’m not sure, didn’t look that deep into it… but the point is that age is nuthin but a numba!

Jason G October 9, 2009 at 12:50 am

Theres a calorie maintenance range for everyone at every age that will keep them the same size. A old person who eats in this range will not be fat even if he does no exercise. A old man who eats less than a thousand calories a day will not be fat for example.

Daniel October 9, 2009 at 4:17 am

Some fair points there spaniard.

I think once I was married with kids I wouldnt really be too bothered about being in perfect shape. If my wife was happy with my shape – then I’d be happy. Im only into fitness to look more attractive anyway (And the fact that Im in the application stages for joining the fire and rescue service) – dunno about anyone else.

As a note, my dad is 45 and is ripped to the bone and strong as an ox, but then again he’s worked in a steel foundry since he was 16 doing heavy manual work all day

gegdredd October 9, 2009 at 4:57 am


gegdredd October 9, 2009 at 4:59 am

Try Eat Stop Eat Lifestyle ๐Ÿ˜‰
You will learn to master your “hunger” feelings…

Fitness October 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

Sorry but i have to disagree with this article, first every person is an “individual” meaning is unique, unique needs, unique thoughts, unique body. Also we can’t forget about genes. What might work for one person might not work for the other. I

The Spaniard October 9, 2009 at 11:19 am

Don’t get me wrong. My son is very active (and I make sure he is) and he has been blessed with his mother’s metabolism…but above all, he does one thing I wish I could do (in a way he does something close to Eat Stop Eat without him knowing about it, he is only six) when he is full, he doesn’t eat more. Now, I am also as active as I can be, which right now it is very difficult for me (my brain is in another place) but what I was trying to say is that just by trying to eat well and exercising, let’s say, 15 minutes everyday, doesn’t work for every one. Whether people want to believe it or not, there are many factors that won’t allow you to stay healthy, despite how much you try: stress, thyroid, lack of sleep, slow metabolism, etc… so far, I have all of this. I know that if me and my wife are able to get rid of the stress things would get much better (we will sleep more, we will fill good about exercising and when we do exercise it will actually work). And my wife hasn’t put hardly any weight on after she gave birth at 41. We are new small business owners and when the end of the month is coming and you don’t know if you will have the money in your account to stay in buisness it becomes very difficult to do things like exercise. When I say I devote my entire time to my son, I mean that if I have to choose between doing something for me or doing something for my son (choosing between me playing a golf tournament or taking him to a golf class because he wants to hit a ball a mile, the choice is clear). Right now my knee is a mess (no cardio exercises at all) but if I pay for the surgery (which I can’t ) that means there is no more Tiger Schulman’s for him, to give you an example. I chose his martial arts class.
Now, I am not trying to say my life is worst than others. We do the same things every parent does, including you: take him to school early in the morning, go to open our store where we stay until 6 unless we have late appointments (Monday thru Saturday). In between those hours, go to pick him up at 2, take him to martial arts or to his gandmas house. After all that, go home, do homework with him while my wife cooks, play some wii (where he kicks my butt) and put him to sleep. Nothing special.
From what I gather you were a stay at home mom (now you are a working mom) and you had your children much younger than my wife and I. On the other side it looks like your husband was the one adding the pounds.

The Spaniard October 9, 2009 at 11:22 am

no need for apologies. Like I said, when I was in my 20’s and early 30’s I also used to say that I would be in great shape by the time I was 40…but things don’t always go the way you want.

Patrick October 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I think the spaniard makes some good points, and can see where he is coming from in saying that as you get older and life gets more complex ( kids, stress, injury, finances, etc) you may have a difficult time working out, than you did when younger, and had less responsibilities. When I was younger had heard that life would get hard, I didn’t believe it, I was wrong and I don’t even have kids, but I can definitely see where that could happen. I also agree w/ fitness statement that we r all unique, individual needs, can’t follow someone exactly (routine). I guess if my life takes a turn in that direction as I get older, and can’t workout much like i’m accustomed to, I will prolly do what Jason G says, and consistently stay in that low calorie range as I become an old man, which will keep me the same. If it means that much to stay lean for life, which it does to me, I will force myself to do it, because I know that stragegy would work.

Jason G October 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm

A big part of reaching your fitness goals is managing stress, because of what it does to our hormones. Believe it or not we have a lot of control over our stress levels. My stress levels went way down when I started training myself not to fixate on the negative things in life. I still have a tendency to react to immediate situations, but have learned to let things go quicker. I can actually feel my body get hot when I am stressed out and cool down when I CHOOSE to let a situation go. I am sure a lot of people can argue that what I am saying doesn’t apply to their super stressful lives, but the real problem is that these people perceive their daily life as stressful and their body reacts to this perception. Similarly these people get an addiction out of fixating on the negative things in life. It becomes the way these people organize all situations and it becomes a habit. I think stress is a poor excuse not to exercise. Having a family is also a poor excuse. If you can’t go to the gym have a step mill in your house and do twenty minutes in the morning. Or perhaps you can take out your kids on long hikes on the weekend, or bike around the block when they get home from school. Medical conditions can be an obstacle, but in less they limit you from long walks around the neighborhood you also have no excuses. People who exercise will send signals to their body that they want to live, and people who eat crap and are inactive will send the opposite signals. Stay positive people.

I think you are smart guy, but honestly you are making a lot of excuses and now you are writing long posts that defend these excuses. You don’t need to be a super fit guy, but don’t give up and let this thyroid problem kill you. There are potentially two future versions of you.

The version that gains twenty or more pounds that results in additional health problems that will eventually kill you.

The version that takes nutrition seriously and does moderate activity. This version may still have thyroid problems, but because of his initiative he is able to keep cardiovascular and other health problems at bay.

Now it is possible that your health problems are really serious, but at the very least eat healthy foods and try not to gain any additional weight.

DragonMatt October 9, 2009 at 8:56 pm


I’m with you, I wouldn’t mind seeing a post on controlling the occasional diet slip up also.

I fast for 24 hours twice a week, every week.

Workout every day – Strength, bodyweight, HIIT (sometimes twice, morning and eve).

Follow a strict ‘Caveman’ style diet (eggs, milk, veg, fruit, meat… with the occasional chocolate bar ๐Ÿ˜‰

However…. when it gets to Friday/ Saturday IE THE WEEKEND! I just feel like having a blowout ya know?!

Maybe a Pizza or a few beers or a curry or a curry and beers with mates…!

Rusty, is this REALLY that bad in our quest for leaness in the grand scheme of things??

Can 1-2 nights a week of ‘being bad’ with regard to diet REALLY do that much to our physique in the long run if we are exercising and following a strict diet for the rest of the week?

I feel a post coming on…..!

Cheers bro, chat soon.


Anthony October 10, 2009 at 12:20 am

Hey Rusty thanks for dispelling some of my fears. I have no problem staying lean, bu putting on muscle is my issue.
Because of my fast metabolism I can remain lean, but I exercise too and can eat a huge amount of food. I was also told it’s gonna get worse as you age. Anyway, it’s good to know that we CAN do something about.

Baz October 10, 2009 at 1:08 am

Rusty I know you and many people on this blog are big advocates of the ESE program. Up until now I was fearful of it because it just seem like fasting would lead to muscl loss, and as someone who has extreme trouble building muscle losing it I the last thing I want. So that’s that. The other thing I had is how much fat would I expect to lose in a 6week period. I have 5kg(12lbs) to lose and te quicker the better without losing any muscle at all. Realisticly what could I hope for?

Baz October 10, 2009 at 3:56 am

Also I have a very good strength training program at the moment so even if I did get ESE I won’t be using the training program only the diet.

Paleo Garden October 10, 2009 at 9:49 am

I think with older relatives (or anyone for that matter!) its really hard to explain to them how important it is to eat in terms of not spiking your insulin for long and/or continuous lengths of time, and how this important to retaining muscle mass.

Kelsey October 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

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Sue October 10, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Kelsey, there is a lot of good information on this site about weight loss.

admin October 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm


Thanks for the referrals to your friends and family…I really appreciate it. I never think excuses are good. The greater the number of excuses, the less chance of getting good results.


Yeah…I believe a lot of this is in the mind. I always believed that if I took my brain and transplanted it into their body…they would be in shape within 3-6 months max.


I don’t think menopause will do much as far as weight gain goes. I have seen way too many fit older women to believe that is necessarily the case.


Even if hormone levels have a slight effect…I am of the belief to “do what it takes”…the alternative is to gain weight as you age. That just is an option in my life.


That is right…he is over 70 now. I first saw him back in the 80’s and he was older than middle age and ripped back then.


Muscle does hang a bit over time, but large amount of muscle is going to be effected much more than if you maintain a normal amount of muscle. Have you seen Arnold Schwarzenegger recently. He is an example of this. His entire body droops big time. In fact, Ronnie Coleman, recent winner of Mr Olympia already displays drooping muscles. I have said it a million times…but it doesn’t pay to put on excess muscle mass.


Metabolisms vary from individual to individual, but the main thing I am talking about is changes over time. Some lucky people tend to stay slim no matter what.

The Spaniard,

It looks like you have already had a lot of responses to your comment, but I hear ya about life getting busy. I guess I would just try to eat a bit less and move a bit more when possible. Nothing too complicated, but just do your best to avoid putting on a lot of weight. It sounds like you are doing well anyway, but over the course of a year you could make slight adjustments to get back to being in top shape without making any major adjustments in lifestyle.


Long-term is the only way to go…life is short so why not strive to be our best from beginning to end?


We all have different experiences, but in my opinion a 20 pound gain could have been stopped at 5-10 pounds. A quick adjustment and then you are back to your normal weight. My philosophy is to do what it takes to never have to lose more than 10 pounds.


Carbs can play a factor, but it isn’t the only reason for weight gain. You can gain weight on too many calories even if they are from protein and fat. I do get what you are saying due to insulin spikes and all of that, but it isn’t just carbs.


Especially in Seattle where we live…literally hibernation weather!


I agree, we should all live life to the max even when we are old. Who wants to live only 1/2 of a life.


I don’t think pain is unavoidable. The key is to move through a good range of motion in workouts multiple times per week. Right now I am doing Adam Steer’s new body weight course and it emphasizes joint health. As I get older this is becoming more important to me.


The important thing is to remember is to just stay active no matter what your age. Don’t let yourself ever get more than 10 pounds out from your ideal weight and staying fit will be a breeze for you.


I remember seeing the first “Ripped” in the late 80’s and not believing my eyes.


To keep the legs lean, just keep it at an incline of 2…no need to increase the angle. Speed the treadmill up instead of increasing the incline.


Good idea about a post. I will write that down and possibly do it in the near future.

Jason G,

Good point, the exercise just helps people maintain the muscle as they age, giving people a higher calorie range…plus all of the health benefits.


People are unique, but have more similarity than differences.


Diet slip ups aren’t that bad at all and a great topic for a post. You can make up for it later throughout the week. This might be my next post.


You won’t have a problem at all. Just stay active and you will be good. The main thing is to stop weight gain before it ever gets out of control. Adjust your diet if you ever get more than 5 pounds out from ideal shape…this approach will serve you well your entire life.


If you have 12 pounds to lose? I would give it two months…not because it takes 8 weeks to lose 12 pounds, but these are your LAST 12 pounds. You will lose most of it the first month if you diet aggressively..the second month will be the last 3-4 pounds. If you want to get extra ripped, then the last 2 weeks you will push harder than ever (Vacation Body Blueprint) style. Hope that helps. ESE doesn’t really outline a training program…it is just a diet plan. Stick with your current training program.

Paleo Garden,

My older relatives live off of carbs. Tons of rolls, mash potatoes, etc…and you can tell they eat too much of this type of food. I’m not anti-carb, but do see the benefit of eating carbs within limits.


Normally I don’t approve these types of comments, because this is comment spam. This time I decided to include it to show you it can hurt more than help. It is obvious to everyone that you didn’t even read the article and basically cut and pasted your comment. I love giving links to people with websites…I really do and even encourage it when people add to the conversation. All the comment links on my site are even “Do-Follow”, which means it will help with Google rankings. Again…I hope people benefit from commenting on my site and I hope it increases their traffic to their site…but NOT when they blatantly just try to get the link. Even worse…you kind of slammed the post…”Great post so far…I think you can learn more by visiting this website!” I am not trying to discourage you from trying to succeed online. I hope you just read this and realize that it isn’t a good idea to spam websites in your same niche that you could have possibly formed an relationship with. When you comment, you should try to help people or add value, then you might possibly get a certain percentage for readers to your site…there are several examples of website owners who added value above your comment. My hope is that they benefit tremendously, because they are adding to the topic. A win-win situation. Sorry for the rant…just trying to help you get better results.


Thanks for that…I kind of went on a rant about Kelsey’s comment, because I get comment spam on a daily basis. She was tying to get a good link as well as traffic to her site, which is fine and even encouraged by me, but went about it in the wrong manner.


baz October 12, 2009 at 4:48 am

Can going too low in calories be detrimental to fat loss? As long as my strength training regime is spot on, can say a calories intake of under 1500 calories of protein and good fats some days be detrimental to your goal of getting very lean while maintaing muscle mass?

Jack October 12, 2009 at 9:18 am

I’m confused. I haven’t done any bodybuilding to build mass.

Should I add mass to my body first then do the strength training to shape my body, because you say that lifting heavy weights with low reps gives no muscle mass.

Or will lifting heavy with low reps still build muscle but at a slower rate?

What do you recommened for someone who is just skinny and has no muscle at all.

Zack Pennington October 12, 2009 at 9:43 am

Great article Rusty! One of my biggest “idols” at my gym is an ex-military guy who’s easily in his late 50’s/early 60’s and I would kill to have his physique. He’s living proof that age is more of an excuse than a factor.

Marion October 12, 2009 at 11:06 am

To The Spaniard,

I believe your post was to me, but you put Deb in there instead. I actually was not a stay at home mom. I worked 2 different jobs when my kids were little. One job from 8-12pm. Then the other job from 6pm-11pm. I also worked weekends too when I had too. When I was home with my kids, I constantly tried to do something physical with them. I started working a regular full time job when my youngest was 2. My husband put on weight from just being lazy and overeating ๐Ÿ˜‰ He was getting older and not taking care of himself. Anyway, I’m not trying to condemn you, I’m just trying to let you know that doing physical things with your kids helps to keep you in shape. Believe me, my life isn’t perfect, I have quite a bit of stress from working full time and helping my mother with our family business (2nd job). So, I’m stretched to the limit, but I make sure to exercise 5 days a week for about 45 minutes. I call this me-time. I don’t let anything defer me from this. I just think everyone needs at least a few minutes a day to themselves to do something that makes you feel better. Whether it’s a 10 minute walk, practicing yoga, body weight exercises, or whatever thing you can do to relieve stress. I honestly think you just need to try to do something small for yourself. I think it will help with the stress.

The Spaniard October 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Jason G,
the thyroid problem is the list of my concerns. Thyroid, slow metabolism…all that means you have to workout harder, which is no problem for me. You say stress is a poor excuse not to exercise..it depends of the type of stress we are talking about. I have recently met a lot of people in their 20’s that are under medication because of stress, and this I don’t understand. All they have to do is go to school and concentrate in their studies because their parents are paying for everything, yet they are beating themselves up with concerns no one should have at their age…specially when they have no responsibilities. Now that is not the type of stress I have, but instead of talking about me let me put you an example: wake up every morning not knowing if you will have enough money in your account to feed your family. Would you still look at life the same way as you do now?

Jason G October 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm


I went as low as 1300 calories a day and I am larger than you. You will see much better weight loss results for sure. The muscle loss issue is confusing. Eat Stop Eat quotes a study that says people can maintain muscle as low as 800 calories a day. Others feel that no weight loss is 100 percent fat and the larger the deficit the more muscle you will lose. The concept of muscle memory also complicates things. Muscle memory is the concept that after you lose muscle you will gain it back much faster, because your body will remember your bodies old muscle requirements. You are young so I would try 1300 calories until you are as lean as you want to be. Than gain the muscle back. I am looking forward to next year being a completely anabolic year filled with muscle gaining. I am spending the rest of this year trying to get lean.

Nick @ MMA Explosion October 12, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Take a look at Herschel Walker the former American Football running back. He is 47 now! and is in amazing shape with no drugs! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herschel_Walker

He has recently just signed to fight in mixed martial arts, most likely fighting against guy/s half his age.

I agree with most posts here, age is used too much as an excuse and a cop out.

Studio Element Personal Training October 15, 2009 at 9:41 pm

So much of your success in maintaining a steady metabolism throughout life is just to keep moving. We tend to slow down as we age and therefore decrease metabolism. We stress this with all of our personal training clients at Studio Element.

Karen October 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Hey Rusty,

I’m a bit behind on my reading so, I just read this post. After reading all the comments, I realize I am WAY behind. I will say after just turning 40 last week, and with two young kids, that I am in the best shape of my life and I’m very proud of that!! ๐Ÿ™‚ And, like you, I don’t spend a ton of time working out. I just workout very smart and eat well 90% of the time.

I really loved this post and found the research study to be incredibly interesting and informative. I am a huge fan of Alwyn Cosgrove (the Scot w/ attitude), Mike Boyle, Eric Cressy for that matter, so more of these kind of posts would be greatly appreciated. I just soak it up!!!


Karen ๐Ÿ™‚

Chris October 21, 2009 at 4:09 am

Slow metabolism is a cheap excuse for non achievers.I am really fed up with non plausible excuses! I am near fifty and have six pack abs .
My secret is far from a secret: clean diet,hill sprinting,weight circuit training and a lot of self motivation.

Uncle Bulldog October 28, 2009 at 3:51 pm

No surprise…isn’t that your site, Kelsey? Says so under your “about us”.

Uncle Bulldog October 28, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Woops, replied to Kelsey before seeing Admin response.

Daniel December 22, 2009 at 3:11 am

@The Spaniard

I think the adversities should make us stronger and more determined. And yes young people have lot of adversities and problems, it’s not like you have responsabilities only as far as money or work is concerned. Even 12 years old have problems, have negative thought about their life, have social troubles and they should be taken seriously and not talking down to on the irrelevant base of age.

Problems are a chance to show ourselves how good we’re in facing them. I think the worse reaction for yourself and your family is to get stressed or depressed when you have problems.
You sound more frustrated than stressed and this frustration appears to make you harsh and hopeless which in turn increase your stress.

The point is: if you can solve a problem then you should focus on solving it rather than complaining, if you can’t solve a problem then complaining won’t change anything and so you can use your energy in more constructive ways.

Try to smile in face of adversities, try to be positive when things are very bad. People in war were extremely positive and still didn’t allow stress to take the better of them even when they had nothing but canned tomatoes to eat for a month. Being sad for a negative situation is normal but focusing on it all the time is masochistic. If someone insults me I don’t cry, I either ignore him or tell him to go to hell. If life insults you, you should do the same. If you allow bad situations to make you so stressed, frustrated and unhappy all the time, then the adversities, the bad, the evilness will have won and you are the one who loses, while challenges exist in this world to give us a chance to show ourselves we’re the winnners.

I think that’s the best attitude you should have for your son so he can learn this healthy approach to living (life has never meant to be without problems or perfect, it would be so boring and pointless we wouldn’t care living it) because young kids should be taught to become stronger in adverse situations and to smile in face of negativity, in fact young kids usually are the one who fight the most in negative and depressing situation, showing they won’t the bad to win but want to be the winner (my 7 years old young cousing broke his leg and showed more maturity in dealing with the pain and problems than his parents when they break a nail)

Also the best thing you can do for your son is giving him an healthy father who will be there when he needs him not matter how old he is. What really should frustrate or depress you is the thought that your son might grow or live without a father because he died from unhealthy lifestyle and from letting stress and frustation take over.

jsterlo January 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm


Thought you would all enjoy this social community that I stumbled upon the other day. Nothing but the hottest athletes


Annie @ Hypothyroidism Diet January 18, 2010 at 4:24 am

A high metabolism means that the body is burning calories at a greater rate than average. People with high metabolisms can generally eat more food without gaining additional weight which can sometimes be seen as a perk. For others who are forced to constantly consume large amounts of food on a daily basis to maintain their weight, a high metabolism might feel like a curse.

Reka May 1, 2010 at 11:31 am

This excuse is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with age but activity. I’ve been an overweight, nearly fat kid in all my life. Then, after changing my lifestyle 2 years ago I’m a very fit adult, and I bet I will stay fit later on. Every time I hear this bullshit it makes me very angry. The world is full of fat kids just like I was.

Robin H June 9, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Interesting article. I have to say though that I don’t agree that reduced fat-free mass is the only possible explanation for age-related weight gain. For one, I’ve read a few times that glucose tolerance/insulin resistance deteriorates with age. Wouldn’t that be a valid explanation too? I have definitely found it harder to drop weight in my early forties than in my early twenties. And my muscle mass is AT LEAST as significant as it ever was.

I think there are probably a number of factors, some more mysterious than others, that cause age-related weight gain. That said, none of these factors is insurmountable, and using anything as an excuse to be out of shape is just self-sabotage. I may never get back the ridiculously lean body of ten years ago (just because it is proving harder to keep up, for reasons I cannot figure out), but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an extremely fit body for my age.

Robin H June 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

Speaking of age and fitness, look what this 48 year old woman did with her body in 3 1/2 months. It’s almost unbelievable, but Art Devany, who runs this blog was a professor of mine in grad school, so I trust the content.


keep fit February 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm

If you maintain your lean muscle mass, It might well be true that your metabolism stays constant. The question is, does it get harder to maintain your muscle mass as you age?

Mark's Fat Burning Food and Fitness Blog May 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm


too true !;-)

Getting fat with middle age is simply the result of 40 years over-eating and under-exercising!

No excuses!

And the hormonal decline can be easily offset with intelligent nutrition, supplementation and training.


Christophe @ Scholarships For Moms June 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I am still relatively young and I plan on staying in great shape so I don’t ever have any problems of getting fat when I am middle aged

cerena williams September 2, 2011 at 10:25 am

Very true, and very well said!!! I agree with wholeheartedly, the older you get the more responsibilities you obtain (children, stress from work and home, etc…). All of this adds weight to your body.

cerena williams September 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

Very true, and very well said!!! I agree with wholeheartedly, the older you get the more responsibilities you obtain (children, stress from work and home, etcโ€ฆ). All of this adds weight to your body and slows down the metabolism. With busy lifestyles it is very hard to find time to exercise and rest for the next stressful day.

First Last Name July 25, 2012 at 11:18 am

It’s not people’s metabolism that is slowing down with age, it is their creeping insulin resistance (look it up) that is the culprit. If people simply ate according to evolution (in regard to fuel mix) rather than man-invented, carbohydrate-laden (complex or not) foods, this symptom along with many if not all diseases of civilization would simply vanish. The good news is, each and every one of us has the power to change his/her diet accordingly — namely through a low carb, high fat way of eating. You can even do so as a vegetarian (I’m walking proof). Unfortunately, it does require rethinking your eating habits and it requires leaving behind some warm-fuzzy-feeling-invoking traditions. But, hey, once you realize for yourself that humanity is onย the wrong bandwagon when it comes to this, andย when you consider what you gain by changing your diet accordingly, you’ll happily kiss those traditions goodbye!
Good luck!

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