People at a healthy weight have a greater chance of living a long, healthy life. Yet, anyone who has encountered a sudden or age-related weight gain knows that calories-in, calories-out isn’t the entire picture. To understand how aging, changes in body composition, gender and body type impact weight management, it helps to understand:
- Basal Metabolic Rate
- Natural aging
Basal Metabolic Rate
Metabolism refers to the physical and chemical processes that occur in the body to make energy available for use. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the rate at which your body uses calories to perform all physiological and mental functions. BMR is affected by your age, sex and body type. For example, individuals with a greater amount of muscle will burn calories faster. Men typically have more muscle than women, and therefore, tend to burn more calories. Age also impacts body composition and any change in the ratio of body fat to muscle will also change your BMR.
Thermogenesis is the process that raises the body’s temperature, or energy output. When thermogenesis increases, metabolism is raised and fat cells are converted into energy to support this metabolic increase. An instance of lowered thermogenesis is the hibernation of animals. When animals hibernate, they lower their energy output to survive long periods without caloric intake. An instance of increased thermogenesis is the heat you feel during and after exercise. Exercise increases your metabolism, which raises the energy output of your body and you feel hot. In addition to exercise, the thermogenesis process within the body can also be triggered by nutrition, including spicy foods, and supplements.
With such complex processes as BMR and thermogenesis involved, weight management at any age can require advanced planning. However, as you age, your fat cells are designed to start storing more and releasing less. This is especially true for women, whose fat cells take on the added task of generating estrogen. In addition, adults lose an average of one pound of muscle a year, which affects their BMR. Successful weight management requires that you take these natural aging processes into account.