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Your metabolism doesn’t slow down around middle age

felix gussone

Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD, written by Health Guide Team

Last updated: Aug 13, 2021
1 min read

According to a new study, all conventional wisdom about metabolism, such as the belief that we’re prone to putting on pounds year after year from age 20, or that women have a slower metabolism than men, is wrong. 

When researchers looked at data from nearly 6,500 people, they found that our metabolism differs across four distinct stages of life:

  • Up until age 1: energy needs shoot up until babies burn calories 50% faster for their body size than adults
  • From age 1 to about age 20: our metabolism slows by about 3% a year.
  • From age 20 to 50: our metabolism holds steady.
  • After age 60: our metabolism declines by about 0.7% a year
  • After age 90: people need 26% fewer calories each day than someone in midlife

The study also found that there are no significant differences between the metabolism of men and women.


  1. Pontzer, H., Yamada, Y., Sagayama, H., Ainslie, P. N., Andersen, L. F., Anderson, L. J., et al. (2021). Daily energy expenditure through the human life course. Science, 373(6556), 808–812. doi: 10.1126/science.abe5017. Retrieved from: