The time reads 2:00am on the corner of his mobile screen, as he is frantically typing on his phone at this wee hour of the night. The mobile screen lights up his determined face in the dark room, as he frantically types into his Whatsapp group with his friends, who are all going to be turning 40 this year. The situation looks tense, which it usually is, when the members are debating about the coronavirus or politics, but this one looks much more intense than usual. The discussion in the group is about fitness, which can be a touchy topic, for these friends in their late thirties, have just woken up to get fit in the last few months, before they soon hit their 40th milestone. These conversations can get really touchy when the credit of a fast transition is given to the metabolism of the person, instead of the hard work one puts in to get there. And this seems to be the core of the argument for these soon-to-be-40 dudes. This touches upon some popular beliefs, experience with metabolism, and the fitness challenges of the ’40s:

THINNER PEOPLE HAVE HIGHER METABOLISM RATES THAN OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE

Let’s address the elephant in the room with the most popular argument first. The poor, thicker people have to give up so much in the diet to get there because they aren’t as blessed with the metabolism of those that are thin. Now, this is a convenient excuse. Actually, the bodies of larger people require more energy than smaller people. That means, as you lose weight, you’ll need less food to fuel your body. And after weight loss, if you return to old eating and exercise habits, the weight will come back, because you’re providing more fuel (food) than your body needs. So the key is to keep active, and eat only how much you need to, to keep those pounds away.

EATING LESS IS GOOD FOR YOUR METABOLISM

It may seem logical that eating less gives way to a speedier metabolism, but the opposite may be true. Eating less food can kick your body into what’s commonly known as starvation mode — your metabolism slows down, so you use less energy, and burn fewer calories. Your body may also drop muscle mass to conserve energy. Starvation mode tends to leave you feeling hungrier and sluggish. Food cravings can lead you to eat more, and undo weight loss eorts. So, starvation is a bad idea, especially for us in the ’40s, as we may end up looking and feeling weaker than leaner.

A CRASH DIET WILL WORK BETTER THAN A MODERATE DIET

In the late ’30s, many people try restrictive diets to get faster results. But it isn’t the restrictive diet that will help you in the long run, it’s moderation in eating that will help. By giving up bread, sweets, coee (coee actually helps in upping your metabolism rate), etc. you will only see a temporary impact, and once you restart these so-called poisons, your temptations will kick in. If the restrictive method in eating is 100….0…30 (30 being the perfect level), The moderation method is 100…80…60…40…30, where maintaining your level at 30 can be easier when you achieve it with the moderation method than jumping back to 100 from 30, as in the restrictive method. The secret code of healthy eating for us in the ’40s is more of moderation, not restriction.

MY METABOLISM IS SLOW BECAUSE OF MY AGE AND GENES

In reality, your metabolism only slows if you become less active. Genes or age may have very little to do with metabolism. The vast majority of people who complain about their slow metabolisms don’t have a metabolism problem at all. They have a movement problem. A lack of movement, that is. Yes, hormonal problems makes weight loss harder. But if we are having diculty in losing weight and blaming it on our metabolism, but our blood work and hormones are actually in line, where does the problem lie? It’s easy to lose sight of this when we compare ourselves to others who seem to eortlessly lose weight, or stay lean. We often compare how much we are working out and how much we are eating, and then we blame our genetics for giving us this tortoise-like ability to lose fat. The subtle but consistent dierences in activity and lifestyle make it seem like we have two camps: those who stay thin eortlessly, and those who do not. But really, it’s a case of those who are active in an eortless or routine way, and those who are not.

INTENSE WORKOUTS CAN BOOST YOUR METABOLISM

It is simple, more exercise equals more calories burned, right? According to the numbers on the machines at the gym, yes. But this actually isn’t the case. Many experts say that if you push your body too far in your ’40s, your body enters an inflammatory, stressed state, and your hormones get totally out of whack, which — in turn — messes with your metabolism. What will be more eective than intensity? Consistency. Being regular is the most important factor in getting fit. Though the workout routine has been derailed during the lockdown, what is important, is to be self-motivated by doing workouts at home, it be simple push-ups, functional workouts, or Yoga.

As these thoughts get vehemently discussed yet again on the WhatsApp group, it’s 2:30 am already, and he is nudged by his wife who is getting disturbed by the glaring phone light. He knows that either it’s time to pause this never-ending debate, or be thrown out of his own room in the middle of the night. He chooses the right thing to do, and as his sleepy eyes are staring back at the screen, he keys in his last words for the day: “Fitness is not a race, it’s a journey you need to enjoy, and don’t blame your metabolism”.