We’ve always heard that our metabolism starts declining rapidly when we hit our thirties.
Hence, it is the usual suspect of weight gain, ongoing fatigue, thin hair, brittle nails, dry skin, and even depression.
But, is it really?
Today, we will discuss the truth behind this long-held belief from an Ayurvedic angle.
When does metabolism slow down?
Metabolism is the conversion of energy from food into energy for all chemical processes that allow us to sustain life, including breathing, circulation, digestion, and elimination.
The idea that it is fast in our 20s, and then it starts going downhill when we are 30, is a popular one. Most people think that because of this, when we are younger, we can eat whatever we want and never worry about our waistline.
But, is metabolism to blame for our struggles?
A recent study shows that weight gain isn’t necessarily linked to a slower metabolism.
It explains how our basal metabolic rate or the number of calories we use at rest, remains stable from 20 to 60 years (adulthood). Then, in older adulthood, total and basal expenditure begin to decline by 0.7% every year.
These results suggest that blaming weight gain in middle age on a slowed metabolism might not be entirely accurate and that we need to apply other measures to lose weight and keep it off.
Other factors to consider
The negative changes we notice in our bodies as we age might be a result of other elements, including an inactive lifestyle.
Loss of muscle mass
Adult life and a busy job can lead to a hundred of goals that typically don’t include our health and fitness. The problem is that the less we move, the more muscle mass we lose. As a result, we feel weak and fatigued, and burn calories at a much lower rate.
Eating consistently foods that lack life and Prana and offer almost no nutritional value is one of the primary causes of disease, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances. Ayurveda offers actionable guidance of what foods to eat for your unique body type and tips to make meals easier to digest.
The 3 Ayurvedic stages of life
In a sense, the recent metabolism findings corroborate Ayurveda teachings.
Our life can be divided into three main stages, each dominated by a specific dosha. To ensure our bodies and minds stay healthy, we must consider our body type, but also our age, as it can determine probable tendencies and aggravations.
A more profound understanding of Ayurveda and daily practice of Ayurvedic principles also includes the analysis of the season to design the best plan to follow for our constitution.
1 to 20 years
Childhood is a Kapha dosha stage, governed by the water and earth elements, which support our growth, nourishment, and anabolic processes during this critical time. Children’s metabolic rates stay high until about age 5, but the rate slowly begins to glide down until it plateaus around age 20.
20 to 60 years
The metabolism study mentions how from 20 to 60 years we maintain the same basal metabolic rate. This conclusion aligns with Ayurveda’s second stage of life, ruled by Pitta dosha. Pitta’s primary elements are fire and water, which are fundamental for our metabolism, digestion, absorption, assimilation, and transformation processes.
Older adulthood (Vata)
Our later years are increasingly Vatogenic, filled with air and space.
At this point in our lives, we become light, cold, dry, and rough, qualities that can be easily observed in all the tissues.
As the study mentions, after 60, the metabolism rate starts declining fast, a Vata side effect that produces a very delicate digestion, poor absorption, insomnia, and accelerated aging.
How to keep a balanced metabolism?
The answer to this question may vary for each dosha.
For Vata and Pitta body types it may mean to slow the metabolic rate down with gentle, moderate exercise routines, Pranayama, meditation, and other Yin Ayurvedic practices.
For Kapha, however, boosting the metabolism is, in many instances, key to finding balance. This integrates a strong level of physical activity, regular exercise, and agni-promoting rituals.
Tridoshic strategies you can practice to balance your metabolism
Insomnia increases our hunger hormone, ghrelin, slowing our metabolism and making us eat more. Stick to a set schedule to go to bed and engage in sunning in the morning to harmonize your circadian rhythm.
Restrictive diets lead to a slow metabolic rate, cravings, and binge-eating. Instead, choose foods that are wholesome and in alignment with your body type, prepare them at home, and eat them mindfully.
Drink more water
People who drink water instead of sugary drinks are often more successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Water also fills you up, prevents binge-eating disorders and emotional eating.
Strength and resistance training
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat; hence, it is essential to build muscle mass with strength and resistance training to balance your metabolism. Lifting weights helps you retain muscle and counter the drop in metabolism and muscle loss that can occur during weight loss or during the Vata stage of life.