How Aging Reduces Your Calorie Burn Rate – and How Being Active Reverses The Decline

If you’re a 40+ guy paying at least casual attention to nutrition science, you know this: as we get older, our bodies naturally burn fewer calories.

Given this reality about “base metabolic rate” (BMR), our choices are: (1) Slowly gain weight; (2) Get more active, to counter-balance the BMR decline; or (3) Reduce calories consumed.

I flirted with the first path in my 30’s but ultimately chose to reject Outcome #1, do everything I can toward Outcome #2, and also accept that a bit of Outcome #3 will be needed over time.

Whatever choice you make (and you are making a choice, man), I want it to be an informed one. So please invest a few minutes to learn about your current calorie burn rate, how it’s changing, and how your activity level affects that trajectory. Preview: getting more active can more than offset BMR decline, for many years!

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If you’re a 40+ guy paying at least casual attention to nutrition science, you know this: as we get older, our bodies naturally burn fewer calories.

Given this reality about “base metabolic rate” (BMR), our choices are:

  1. Slowly gain weight. The US NIH says 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. Slow/steady gain during aging is one root cause of this disturbing fact.
  2. Get more active, to counter-balance the “other things equal” BMR decline (and for many other quality-of-life and longevity reasons).
  3. Reduce calories consumed (this isn’t mainly an article on nutrition specifics, but: diet evolution should focus a lot on quality of intake, not just calorie count…but ultimately, calories do matter)

I flirted with the first path in my 30’s. Working my butt off, traveling a lot and having young kids at home impacted both diet and workout discipline.  I decided to make changes when looking at vacation photos and thinking “who’s that kinda-tubby guy in my bathing suit and hanging around with my wife and kids?”

I chose to reject Outcome #1 above, do everything I can toward Outcome #2, and also accept that a bit of Outcome #3 will be needed over time.

Whatever choice you make (and you are making a choice, man), I want it to be an informed one. As Rush sang in Free Will, “When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

So please invest a few minutes to learn about your current calorie burn rate, how it’s changing, and how your activity level affects that trajectory. Preview: getting more active can more than offset BMR decline, for many years!

BASE METABOLIC RATE & INCREMENTAL IMPACT OF ACTIVITY LEVEL

BMR is a function of your height, weight, gender and age. There’s a widely-used formula for this, that’s reasonably accurate for most people (besides, the trend is more important than the exact calculated number).

Your average daily caloric burn is a product of this BMR and an adjustment factor based on activity level. This adjustment factor, the Harris Benedict Equation, has five adjustment multipliers based on activity levels, from sedentary to pro-athlete-style 2x/day training.

If you’re chomping at the bit to know your activity-adjusted BMR right now, before reading further, I get it. Here’s an online calculator. See you back here in a minute. Or, the link is also at the end of this article, if you’re the more-patient type.

This chart shows BMR for ages from 35-65, at each standardized Harris Benedict activity level, for a 5-foot-10-inch guy weighing 180 pounds.

While the yearly BMR decline is gradual (thankfully), don’t underestimate how a few unburned calories per day add up. A guy’s daily BMR is about 80 fewer calories than it was for him ten years ago. If he “accumulates” those 80 calories every day for a year, he’ll gain eight pounds.

ACTIVITY-LEVEL CAN INCREASE CALORIE-BURN MORE THAN AGE DECREASES IT

Here’s great news: You can more than counterbalance this BMR decline by even modestly increasing activity level.

In the chart version below, look how a 65 year-old moderately active guy burns as many daily calories as a 35 year-old lightly active guy! (And a lot more than a lightly-active 45 or 55 year-old).

This is a fantastic, dude. Ramping up activity level (even modestly) has a greater affect on metabolic rate than aging 30 years. It means we have the opportunity – if we get a little more active – to pretty easily stave off weight/fat gain, even though we’re getting older. With reasonable effort, we can lose weight while we get fitter.

Though it sounds like a magazine-cover cliche, we CAN in some ways actually be better than we were 10 or 20 years ago. Yeah, most of us will have more aches and pains, and be a little slower and less athletically explosive than we were (or at least had the potential to be). No one’s age-proof.

But on the hugely important dimensions of weight, body fat, and fitness…this data shows we can double down on fitness and nutrition to be, overall, in great shape.

“Well, I’m getting older…” doesn’t need to be an impediment. And you shouldn’t let it be an excuse either, man.

TAKE ACTION

If you haven’t already done so, check out your adjusted BMR here.

Can you take activity level up a notch (or even a half-notch…or don’t let me be a wet blanket, how about two notches)? You’ll be burning more calories than the younger-but-less-fit you.

What would you do with that improvement? Lose weight? Eat more (good things) to help build muscle? Some of each? This is a nice decision to make, brothers.

So, please…”man up” and put yourself in position to make it!

 

“We’re not gonna take it. Never did and never will.” (The Who, We’re Not Gonna Take It — click-to-listen. This is an awesome video from The Who at Woodstock — a must see!)

 

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

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Six Fitness Actions You’ll Thank Yourself For *NEXT* Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have much to be thankful for this year, man. Even while you gratefully make note of all that, this is also a good time to think ahead.

What would you additionally like to be thankful for next Thanksgiving?

What if on Thanksgiving 2018 you could take a personal inventory and conclude:

1. I’m staying more motivated for fitness – and avoiding major backslides

2. I’m eating better (not perfectly, but better)…and I feel better for it

3. I forgive myself for not always following my fitness plans…but I hold myself more accountable to usually do so

4. I’ve varied my fitness routine, so I’m in better all-around shape than I was a year ago

5. I’m using exercise to better combat stress and make my life feel more spacious

6. If needed, I overcame aches-and-pains to do these things – instead of letting 2018 be a year of narrowing possibilities

Dude! That would be an incredible “thanks” list. So enjoy the coming weeks of 2017 wrap-up and holidays, yes. But I invite you to also make this time a springboard into a meaningful 2018. (Don’t wait for the cliched New Year’s Resolution.)

Here’s the why-and-how of six actions you can take, starting now, to add to your “thankful for” list for next year.

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5 Ways to Feel Happier Every Day (and Get More Productive Because You’re Happier)

Some big-picture components of happiness are long-term endeavors to improve. But there are also surprisingly simple “evolve your state of mind” things you can do to increase feelings of happiness in the short term.

You can take active steps to increase your feelings of happiness every day — and let those feelings make you more effective in all you other goals and endeavors. One example? Think of the “STAGE” verbs — savor, thanks, asipire, give and emphathize.

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Fitness: What Men Can Learn From Women (Part 2)

Part One of this series said 40+ guys should take valuable cues from women to refine their fitness-and-health approach for the decades ahead.

Women…
1. Don’t let competitiveness become counterproductive to fitness
2. Focus more on total-body fitness
3. Seek out help and support more
4. Take nutrition more seriously

I have no intent to perpetuate stereotypes. But these patterns do fit with how many people assume women behave compared to men. So yeah, I’ll admit it in this language: Part One suggested we learn from attitudes and behaviors some might describe as “womanly.”

However you describe them, they have real benefits for lifelong fitness, health and wellness.

If anything, this Part Two makes a more cage-rattling point. Some women in the OlderBeast phase of life are “manning up” to fearlessly embrace age and double down on fitness — on “historically-male” fitness turf — more than many guys are.

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I Experimentally Reduced Cardio in My Fitness Mix – Here’s What Happened

There are good reasons for cardio-intensive guys to move to a better mix of endurance/strength/flexibility in the fitness mix.

Overtraining on cardio – especially without super-disciplined rest and nutrition regimes – can wear down your body, contribute to muscle loss, and allow development of imbalances that make you more prone to injury.

Also, in our time-challenged lives, too much cardio usually implies too little strength and flexibility training. And maintaining muscle tone and staying limber are huge parts of looking and feeling our best, and maximizing longevity, as we move through life’s second half.

And one big concern about reducing cardio – gaining weight/fat – may be misplaced. Evidence is emerging that strength training (with at least a somewhat-intense cadence) burns fat as well as, or better than, cardio.

With these things in mind (but still needing to overcome a “cardio reduction paranoia” mental hurdle), here’s what I changed and what I learned.

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