We’re Probably Wrong about Metabolism

Check out this fascinating article from the New York Times. Our understanding of human metabolism is changing.


Can you post a summary for those of us that don’t subscribe to that newspaper?

Yes, NYT is FAMOUS for its paywall. You get part of the article and then ‘please subscribe’ to read the rest pops up. If I read NYT on a regular basis, I would pay, but I don’t.


Bottom line, metabolism doesn’t decline from 20 to 60, like we thought, and women’s metabolisms are around the same as men’s.

For most of our adult lives, then, we can’t blame weight gain on slowing metabolisms. It’s just regular old calories in vs. calories out.

1 Like

Maybe it’s because as we get older, we tend to earn more and can afford things like expensive cheese and wine without whincing? :thinking:


This implies that if metabolism does not decline, and if we were to eat the same way as we did when we were in our 20s, then we would not gain weight.

Hence, if we gain weight we are eating more than we did in our 20s.

On the other hand, I am over 60 so I can still blame declining metabolism…right? :wink:


Perhaps we tend to be more active in our twenties. Perhaps our cumulative weight gain of 1-2 lbs/year doesn’t start to show until our thirties, when we’re up 10-20 pounds from our early-twenties weight. The article doesn’t speculate.

1 Like

In my youth I would run for 40-45 mins in the morning, do a days work, run for around an hour in the evenings, and still walk the dog and cut the grass.Nowadays, I do a ride and sit like a zombie trying to recover for the next ride .Although I eat less than I did, it is still more than I need as I have a slow steady weight gain. I believe the food you eat influences your metabolism, or you could eat an apple a day less than usual, and the reduction in calories would make you disappear over time, so the body does adjust and try to level off to the amount we consume


Did the article state how many people were in the study, what its makeup was (sedentary vs. non-sedentary, etc.), and for how long were they studied?

Was this a singular paper, or is there a body of research that supports this hypothesis?

The popular press (and the NYTimes has degenerated to that level) is notoriously bad at reporting scientific research.


can’t get hold of the study, SciHub doesn’t have it (yet).
might try ResearchGate or perhaps you have more luck than me

1 Like

Here is the abstract at least:

For those of you who might have access through an institution:

I was not able to use an institutional affiliation to get access to the paper. If nobody else has access I might be able to ask one of my academic friends for a copy.

@Heretic There were 6,500 in the study. I think it was similar to a study done a decade or two ago. It was sort of a click bait article but better than some of the other health content that NYT often runs.


Here’s the full paper if you’re wanting to take a look:


SUPER COOL research!
In terms of the methodology- there were almost 6,500 people ranging from 8 days to 95 years and the project was a collaboration of multiple labs (more than 80 co-authors listed on the publication).
The replies from the group are an excellent summary of the main findings… for me personally, two of my favorite tips still stand… (1) move more- (2) prioritize weight training… especially as we age.


Here’s something to think about. Since I live in a University town with about 44K students, we refer to it as the Freshman 15. The average weight gain of a Freshman, male or female from starting studies to Winter Break. Why? Most Freshmen stop exercising and they consume more ‘thoughtless’ calories. I’ve seen this in action. So, why do we gain when we go over, say, 30? Because we ‘slow down’. And we don’t adjust our intake to match. So we start packing on the weight. Soon we look and it’s 20 pounds /10 Kilos/1.5 stone. What can we do? @coach.jinger.g has a great idea. Start weight training. Muscle burns calories, fat doesn’t. Also, add more Cardio, but don’t go overboard.


By the way, for everyone complaining about the NYT paywall…check your local library. In my case, I was able to access the NYT through my library’s website, simply by entering my library card number and password. Admittedly, I then had to search for “new metabolism study” and narrow the date down to year 2021, but it only took about a minute to do all that.

You paid the taxes, you might as well use the resources! :slight_smile: