Without fail, one of the top questions we get asked is how to boost a sluggish metabolism. Putting this in context, however, the question usually coincides with age-related weight gain. In other words, it’s usually packaged something like this…

“Guys, help me! As I’ve gotten older, the number on the scale continues to move in the wrong direction—UP! Not only that, it seems like my body is betraying me as I’m getting bigger—and smaller—in all the wrong places…and it’s not the “good” kind of bigger. How can I kick start my sluggish metabolism?”

The assumption here is that weight gain and a declining metabolism is age-related. And technically, those assumptions are true. For instance, we tend to see an association between weight gain and age. In other words, as we get older, by and large, we gain weight.

Now, if you believe what you read, you’ll probably be led to think that overeating is the top cause of weight gain. Technically, that’s true, considering that whenever you consume more calories than you burn (over time), weight gain ensues.

However, here’s the catch. We also tend to see a decline in metabolic rate as we get older. In fact, studies suggest about a 2 – 4% decline in metabolic rate every decade starting in our 20s. What’s especially interesting to note here is that we also see about a 3 – 8% decrease in calorie-burning lean muscle every decade starting in our 30s.

What do all these pieces tell us? The number one reason we gain weight—more specifically, FAT—as we get older—is lack of movement, physical activity, and structured exercise. Of course, eating a high-quality diet that’s rich in nutrient-dense foods in amounts that are appropriate for you, your goals, and your activity levels is extremely important. Along those lines, a high-protein diet is especially important for maintaining calorie-burning lean muscle and a healthy metabolism.

Engaging in a physically active lifestyle and regularly exercising are keys to maintaining a healthy weight and body fat percentage as well as preserving metabolic rate with age. And when it comes to exercise, while cardio has its place, resistance training is even more important because of its role in building and maintaining calorie-burning lean muscle. We recommend at least 2 – 3 days of full-body weight training.

So, forget what you’ve heard; you’re not doomed. Fat gain and a slow metabolism are not inevitable!