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What Exactly Is the “Metabolic slowdown”?
As we age our resting metabolic rate (RMR) is decreasing. What is the real-world consequence of this? Put simply, when we are 20 years old and sit down, we burn approx. 100 calories per hour, this is the energetic cost of our organs keeping us alive. However, when we are older, the energetic cost is decreasing. Therefore, even with the diet and calorie intake unchanged, we are starting to store more of our food as fat.
Simple explanation behind this could the progressive loss of muscle mass as we age. Muscle is highly metabolically active tissue and its loss could potentially explain the decrease in RMR. Nevertheless, is this the only change that occurring while we age? Being more active and doing resistance training in order to increase muscle mass is certainly beneficial.
In one German research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they assessed 216 elderly individuals. Their RMR was measured by indirect calorimetry and their body composition was assessed by bioelectrical impedance. The results of elderly people were compared to 226 young healthy individuals. The conclusion of this study was that the decrease of RMR can not solely be explained by the change in body composition associated with ageing. Authors suggested that other factors involved in the metabolic slowdown are the decrease in metabolic activity of highly energetically demanding organs like heart, kidneys or liver.
Vitamin D and Sarcopenia
Step 1 – Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements
In a study published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, they examined 56 elderly subjects with vitamin D deficiency. After supplementation with a vitamin D and calcium, their lower limb strength was increased. This mechanism is possibly facilitated by the signalling pathway triggered after the binding of vitamin D onto its receptor. This pathway was shown to regulate the differentiation and proliferation of myoblasts – the muscle stem cells.
Promoting Mitochondrial Biogenesis
In a study published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and cited more than 550 times in other publications, it was found that as we age the number of mitochondria in our skeletal muscle decreases. As the contraction of muscle fibres is dependent on the ATP produced in mitochondria, our strength is diminishing with the loss of mitochondria.
Step 2 – Be Careful with Certain Supplements
In the study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, it was found that two popular antioxidants vitamin E and α-lipoic acid decrease the expression of the PGC-1α.
Step 3 – Promoting the PGC-1α with Supplementation
Step 4 – Augmenting your Diet with Foods Supporting Mitochondrial Biogenesis
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Promoting Thermogenesis and Fat Beiging
Step 5 – Cold Exposure to Activate Highly Metabolically Active Fat
Step 6 – Foods Promoting Brown Fat Activation or White Fat Beiging
Capsaicin and Capsinoids
Green tea (EGCG)
Red Grapes and red wine (Resveratrol)