Written By: Gabrielle Romero
We have all heard those people make comments about the food we eat and how we should “enjoy it while we are young because it will catch up to us one day”. At the time we feel like our metabolism will never change and we can continue to eat whatever we crave for as long as we live. Is it true that these calories will catch up to us one day? Will we have to change the way we eat as we age? Well, let’s look at the science behind our metabolism:
When we are growing toddlers, our metabolism is incredibly fast. Our self-control with food is at its best and we are masters at eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full. The average toddler requires anywhere from 1,000 -1,400 calories per day (depending on age, gender, activity level). Moving on to ages 6-14 we now require anywhere from 1600-2000 calories per day. This is a decent amount of food especially when we remember how active we are at this age. We are burning a lot of calories! Kids this age need lots of food and pretty much burn everything they are consuming to grow and develop.
Once we reach 18 our calories tend to level off anywhere between 2000-2400 calories again varying on activity level, gender, and age. We usually tend to stay around this calorie intake for a few years. Following the age 20 we tend to see a decrease in our metabolism by 2-3% every 10 years. In the big picture, 2-3% is pretty much nothing but the point is that our metabolism is not getting faster as we age. You may find as you mature your stress levels increase, you may drink more alcohol, and you are probably less active. All of this leads to the dreaded weight gain.
Once you reach puberty it is very important to consume a well-balanced diet full of fats, carbs, and protein. As we age it is even more important that we consume healthy fats for brain and hormone health as well as protein to keep our bodies strong and fit. Consuming fish 2-3 times per week, switching out a snickers bar for dark chocolate, and maybe substituting a protein shake instead of a milk shake during the week could help keep you in your best shape as we enter adulthood.
Also, as females reach puberty and their childbearing years, their bodies want to hold onto more fat to better suit a pregnancy. It is healthy for women to have a higher body percentage than males to become pregnant and fuel their bodies to take care of babies and children. With these weight changes comes changes in diet.
To conclude, our metabolism does change as we age from toddlers to teens to eventually elderly adults. It does not change drastically so no need to completely change your diet! Just try to stay as active as possible, fuel your body with healthy foods and you will stay in tip top shape!
To learn more about nutrition, check out my podcast “RDs vs BS” on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. In the podcast, we use science to separate what’s legit and what’s BS in the world of health and nutrition.
Nutrition is very personalized, and 80/20 is going to look different for every person based on goals, preferences, and lifestyle. If you want to find clarity about how 80/20 can work in your life, I’m here for you. As a dietitian and health coach, I help people figure out a way of eating that helps them optimize their health in the long term, without a dieting or weight focus. I am currently offering free initial nutrition sessions for new clients. To learn more and to schedule your free session, check out my website at www.emilyzorn.com.