Slowing metabolism? Build Muscle.

Why your cardio routine is no longer cutting it

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I, like many people in my age, am fighting the “battle of the bulge.”  I was a big kid growing up but, I slimmed down (for a while) in my 20’s.  The truth is, it wasn’t until my late 30s that I really started to work out regularly.  Still, battling father time (and years of bad eating) has been challenging.

I’m a person who likes to research things.  Now that I’m a man in my 40s, I’ve been researching why losing weight gets progressively harder as we get older.  I previously shared that, as we age, our ability to create human growth hormone (HGH) declines and that sleeping more helps us better use what we have.  Now, we need to talk about another aspect: building muscle.

No, I am not saying become a bodybuilder, unless that your goal.  In that case, go for it.  However,  to shed those pounds and keep them off, you need to build muscle.  It’s not just me saying this.  Research has shown that muscle moves metabolism.   According to Dr. Brunilda Nazario, associate medical director at WebMD, “Muscle is extremely metabolically active, meaning that it burns calories even when you’re at rest, whereas fat is not… So every decade that you lose muscle, you are burning fewer calories and, unless you are cutting calories, you are gaining weight.”

So, what does this mean?

  1. You need to incorporate much more resistance training to your routine.  This could mean lifting weights, using kettlebells or even bodyweight exercises.  The point is that you want to be doing something on a very regular basis that is helping to build and keep muscle, so that you are burning calories, even when you’re not working out.  Remember, more muscle equals more calorie burn.
  2. Feed those muscles.  You can’t build muscles by feeding them heavy carbs or junk food.  You are going to need to up your protein.  The standard formula is to take your current weight, in kilos, multiply it by 0.8 and you will have the number, in grams, of the protein you should be eating (If you search for “pounds to kilos” in Google, you can find a handy calculator).  But, according to a study by the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, you should probably be looking at consuming twice that number to prevent muscle loss.

If you haven’t been there in a while, make your way over to the section of the gym where the weights are or start working on those bodyweight exercises ( I recommend the “You Are Your Own Gym” series by Mark Lauren, if you want to see how bodyweight training can be a serious workout).  Don’t go down without a fight.  Let’s get to (re)building that muscle.

Written by JP Smith

A self-proclaimed "technologist...with attitude", I'm a forty-something husband, father and IT professional/enthusiast. I believe that learning and growth are lifelong endeavors.