What Happens to Your Metabolism In Your 20s?


Once you reach 20 years old, your metabolism begins to slow, and the rate at which your body breaks down food starts to decrease with every decade. What is important to understand is that this isn’t something you should fear; you have a certain level of power within this process. You can’t combat aging, but you can educate yourself about the ways in which you can better support the metabolic process. Let’s start by looking at what happens to your metabolism in your 20s.

Prepare For Some Changes 

Overall, the resting metabolic rate (RMR) peaks for everyone in their early 20s and begins to decrease approximately one to two percent every 10 years after that. With a better understanding of your metabolic health and fitness, you can adjust your diet and exercise routines to work in sync with the changes to your metabolism as you age. Of course, genetics play an important role in this process, but your level of activity largely determines the number of calories you burn in a day.

The first five years are not significantly different from your days as an energetic teen. You have not even finished building your bones, a process that increases calorie burn, until the age of 25. At that point, you may start to notice that you can’t eat the way you used to or skip the gym as often and still maintain your weight.

It’s Different For Men and Women

Men and women both experience changes in metabolic rate with age, particularly in RMR, but in slightly different ways. In general, men burn more calories than women because they typically have more lean muscle and burn metabolically active fat more quickly. In contrast, women’s bodies are predisposed to store fat more efficiently for energy-draining processes like pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Hormones also play a vital role in the process. Testosterone rates are naturally higher in men, and testosterone profoundly affects muscle mass and fat storage. The combination lends itself to a stronger metabolism, which means burning more calories whether active or inactive. Testosterone decreases with age, leading to a decrease in metabolic rate and muscle mass. 

Life Happens While Your Metabolism Changes

Unfortunately, the point at which metabolism starts to drop off typically coincides with typical life changes. Your 20s are often a time of considerable career adjustment. Settling into the workforce, particularly sedentary careers, contributes to a decrease in activity at a time when the RMR is already slowing down, and you are burning fewer calories. The next step may be to think about what you can do to support your metabolism through these changes. There are scientifically proven methods to maintain a healthy weight and take care of yourself properly as you age, and they vary for men and women.

Ways Women and Men Can Boost Their Metabolism

Women start to experience loss in muscle mass, particularly lean muscle around the age of 40, and this is largely due to a tank in metabolism. However, this does not mean that you should wait until you are 40 to start working on building muscle. In fact, studies show that starting strength training early reduces your risk of putting on belly fat as you age, more so than people who fixate on cardio in their exercise routine. Eating plenty of protein also supports your muscle building goals.

The steps for men are similar to those for women. Dietary and lifestyle choices are determining factors for metabolism. For men, high-intensity exercise, resistance training and eating multiple small meals each day can help speed up the metabolism. Caffeine, lean meats, egg whites and spicy food all provide metabolic support. Of course, strength training to build muscle mass is just as important in men as it is in women. 


It’s common to forget that your diet and exercise has to adjust with you as you age. Your 20s are a great time for your metabolism, but it’s also the perfect time to start thinking about metabolic fitness and taking care of your body through the process. Your fitness strategy is not complete with considering your metabolism. 

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