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Reasons Why You're Possibly Gaining Weight in Your 20's & 30's- spoiler alert its probably not a slower metabolism from getting older

"It's just my slower metabolism from getting older."

I hear this a lot from my clients and friends in their late 20's to 30's. There are often other factors that have come into play aside from getting older that most of us don't often realize that could be causing weight gain or hindering weight loss.

Let's start with a simple definition of what your metabolism is. In short, it is the chemical process that occurs in your body to maintain life. Or in more simpler terms, the calories your body burns both at rest and during physical activity. Although it does slow down as we age, there are usually other factors affecting your weight that are often overlooked, especially in your 20's and 30's.

First, your NEAT has probably dropped due to lifestyle changes. This stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis or calories that you burn outside of the gym. We often do not realize how much our activity may have changed post high school and post-college life. Think about how much you spent walking around campus, to bus stops, around sports games or at events. You might have been involved in sports or theater or some weekend fitness/sports groups. Maybe you spent hours at the club each weekend dancing. Now years later you might have a desk job and your main physical activity may your gym sesh a few days a week. Looking at how many steps you are taking each day. If the weekly average is under 4k per day, try bumping it up to 8-10k per day. You could also look adding more physical activities into your lifestyle outside of the gym. By increasing steps and increasing daily activity you will increase your NEAT. Maybe try adding in biking on the weekends or trying martial arts or tennis. Maybe going to the park or walking around the farmer's market on the weekend for walks or hiking. Whatever gets your butt up and moving more, do it more often.

Second, get honest with yourself about how many calories you are really intaking from alcohol and sugary coffee drinks. Maybe all those weekend drinks didn't add up as fast in college when you were on a stricter food budget and walking 15k steps a day, but the margs on Taco Tuesday, drinks of Friday at the bar, and girls brunch on Sunday might be adding in more calories than you are burning during the week. You do not need to cut out alcohol entirely to lose weight, but you might be taking in far more empty calories from it than you are aware of. Just like we often overlook how much less we are moving than we were a few years ago, we might not be aware of how many extra calories we are taking in from the lattes, frapps, and mimosa brunches per week. Take an honest look at how many non-food calories you are taking in. A lot of clients are shocked when they learn how many extra calories they are drinking in their favorite coffee or alcoholic drinks.

Third, are you getting enough sleep? Sleep affects everything from your hormones to your appetite to NEAT. Often when we are sleep deprived we are not moving as much the next day or making the best food choices.

Fourth, lift those weights! Muscles require calories to maintain. Your metabolism may not be slowing down due to aging so much as you have lost muscle and gained body fat due to a change in lifestyle. This change in your body composition can affect your metabolism causing you to you will burn less calories at rest when you have a higher percentage of muscle mass. This again goes back to NEAT. The better muscle mass to body fat percentage you have, the more calories you will burn outside of the gym.

Fifth, hormones and your thyroid play a part in your metabolism and no you cannot diagnose a hormone imbalance with a quiz online. You need to go see your medical professional, not a fitness coach that has a hormone balancing certificate. Most likely you will need to have blood work down to check your hormones and thyroid. Your doctor will determine the best treatment plan and follow up with regular testing until its back in order. Although your hormones will change as you age, there are several other factors that can affect them like undiagnosed PCOS, pregnancy, medications, autoimmune diseases.

So does your metabolism slow as you age, especially in your 40's, 50's and 60's? Yes. But in your 20's and 30's there are usually other things going on like a drop in NEAT or taking in more calories than you are burning from lifestyle changes. Take an honest look at your diet and activity level and if you still think something is off, schedule and appointment with your doctor.

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