Eat More or Eat Less? Which is Better For My Metabolism? [Podcast Episode #112]
Do you ever notice how conflicting health news can be?
First it's, "Don't eat fat," but then you hear that you're supposed to eat more fat. Or maybe you've heard, "Eat 6 meals per day," but then read that "You have to fast for 16 hours each day. Eat fewer meals!"
Here's one more...
"Weight-loss is all about eating fewer calories than you burn" is a commonly-held belief, but you can also find very credible sources who teach that "Eating too few calories is going to kill your metabolism."
Eat more? Or, Eat less?
Let's take a closer look at which path you should follow...
Make Your Body Work Podcast #112
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Eat More or Eat Less? Which is Better For My Metabolism?
Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know this show is all about helping you live a healthier, happier life. Today we're talking about metabolism, specifically we're talking about how does your age, how does your food, how does your exercise impact your metabolism. Are there things you're doing right now that are depressing your metabolism or is your metabolism just slowing down because we're getting older and we're all getting older. This all comes from a question from Dawn.
Dawn wrote in and she said, "At 54 years old, I know that my metabolism isn't working as well as it once was. I'm wondering how much that should impact the amount of food I eat. I understand that calories in, calories out isn't the full picture. I've read that eating too little is actually harmful to the metabolism. So how do I know how much I actually need to eat in order to maximize what my metabolism has left?"
Dawn, thanks so much for writing in and I've got such an amazing guest today. She's so passionate, she's so well read, well researched and well-practiced in this area of metabolism, weight loss, health, exercise, healthy eating, everything that falls under this question that you had asked.
And we're gonna look at many different aspects of metabolism including the behavioral side of it, what are things that you can do to keep your metabolism elevated as we age, and then how much does aging actually depress our metabolism in the first place. Is it something that we're gonna fall doom to regardless of what we do or is it something that we can take control over? So I'm really excited to introduce to you Leigh Peele.
Meet Leigh Peele
Dave: Hey Leigh, thanks so much for joining us on the show today.
Leigh: Thank you for having me.
Dave: Yeah, I'm excited to learn about you and to learn about what you do in life. I was reading your bio and one of the things that stood out is you are an author. Can you tell us a little bit about ... What do you like writing about?
Leigh: Oh, you know it is one of those things where your life splits a little bit between hobby and artistic interest versus job, and don't get me wrong, I'm really good at writing about fat loss, weight loss, metabolism and getting people to understand somewhat complicated things to apply to their life.
I think that I'm very, very good at it, but I probably do most enjoy outside of just complete ... complete like [emotastic 00:02:41] prose and poetry and personal kind of bio-music stuff because I love writing about music and things. But that's kind of a little bit more industry driven, I really love writing about the psychology and psychology research and how people feel and how they kind of change, transformation.
In fact, one of the books that I'm ... I have like five books or six books I'm working on. But of one of them, the one that I'm kind of the most interested on right now, is basically how we change, how we deal with change and how we deal with like breaking through our [comfortabilities 00:03:08] and the day to day struggles of that.
So mostly the psychology of it, because at some point in this industry you do tend to ... Not that there's anything wrong with a squat or a deadlift or not that there's anything wrong with talking about calories or macronutrients or anything like that…
But it's hard to even within your own self keep it fresh and it's a daily reminder to be like not every ... not to be a narcissist and not to think that everybody knows your business all the time and that everyone's following you online to be reminded that someone new is gonna find you every day and it's really important from a business aspect and from a trainer aspect. But is nice to branch out and to write about different things.
So right now I'm really enjoying psychology research, how to apply that to change and lifestyle habits and how to kind of press forward. I mean it's kind of the typical pattern of a guru, isn't it? At some point you become a life coach and a business mentor and I'm this close away from doing like sold out like ... speaking gigs and having like a Ted Ex. Not an actual Ted probably, but maybe a Ted Ex. So that's the path as of right now, we'll see where it goes.
Your Physical Changes Begin with Psychological Changes
Dave: You know what's really interesting to me though, is that you disassociated psychology from your work. And when I hear you talk about the change behavior and mechanisms that help people overcome stumbling blocks, things like that, that is so relevant to the fitness industry.
Leigh: It is. It is, you kind of called my number there. I think ... God, we can get into a big conversation on this. I definitely do associate it all, but my client work is 90 ... and I say this all the time, it's like 95% therapy. I mean basically I'm practicing ... not literally without a license all the time, but we end up talking more about, "How am I gonna deal with my family at Thanksgiving and how am I gonna deal with this or how am I gonna deal with that?"
So psychology is a really big point of it. I think mostly what I meant by that is the dry technical data of this is how you do reps and this is mitochondria and this is the [inaudible 00:05:12], kind of more the dry aspects of it. I will write about it, I'm good at writing about it, but what I really love to write about is that psychological aspect and to really dive deep into why you're doing it, because as we all found, I think in this industry if we're lucky enough to be robots for a period of time that's great.
If it just happens to work out, that's awesome, but almost every professional that I've known and certainly clients that I've worked with, at some point we all hit this wall and I say we because I include myself in it.
And we realize that it doesn't really matter the macros, it doesn't really matter the training program, it doesn't matter all these types of things, I mean they're variables. But if your mindset isn't right and if you don't know what you want or how to achieve it or your hiccups, all these types of things, it becomes that much harder and you realize that you're human and you're flawed to it and you have to kind of tackle it from that different level. So that's kind of more of what I meant. It absolutely is ... It's everything, it's essential.
It's what I found separates me from a lot of the other kind of point and shoot trainers that copy cutter programs, go to copy cutter like calculators and just try to get people to follow something that really ... And not this is even bad 'cause I work with apps and things like that but really could just be taken from an app. So I try to take it to that next level.
Dave: Oh, well you are so welcome on this show because no one's here to learn about how to do a better squat. No one ... I think I can speak for my audience and say no one's coming here for technical advice when it comes to exercise or technical advice when it comes to nutrition, but it is that implementation piece. We have so much information at our fingertips, but for some reason it's really hard to apply and I like how you said that's true for you and true for me as well.
Leigh: I mean it is the defining moment. It is how I got into the industry ultimately ... I mean not to like book plug, but my first book was 'The Fat Loss Troubleshoot' and ultimately it was because I got there by troubleshooting my own problems, let alone the people I was working with.
And you always think that you're some sort of enigma or a special thing, that you're the 1% or that there's something about you that nothing is ever experienced before because we're all wanting our story heard, and we're all wanting all these little pieces of the puzzles to be extra special and unique and we are in these ways. But we aren't in these other ways in the aspect of science and physiology and biology and chemistry and these kinds of things.
There are some closer absolutes or at least within a realm of working and it's trying to help relay that to people in a way that it clicks through their brain, in a way that's tactful, in a way that's not argumentative. It's taken years for me to really hone in on those skills a lot and I still continue to work on them, and all of that was done via assembling, fumbling and learning the mindset and psychology, motivations, intrinsic and extrinsic and understanding what really drives people, what doesn't.
Procrastination is a very big one, done a lot of research into procrastination and just all these little factors that help make us ... up who we are and how we can't waste time because I'm a big believer in not wasting time. No matter what you believe in, I do believe that this is the shot for this zone at least and I really wanna make it work.
I wanna make it of something and I wanna help other people make it of something. So just watching life go by and seeing what it'll give you and just taking with it our hands, coasting, things like that. That's just not for me and I end up pretty much infecting my clients with that as well. I hope in a good way. So far it hasn't created too much neuroticism.
Dave: Not too much.
Leigh: Yeah, not too much. Not to the point to where it's like a lot of people with knapsacks over their shoulder will be like, "I'm running away. That's it. I'm not doing life anymore." You know like that? Hopefully not too much of that.
NEAT & NEPA: Exercising Without Really Exercising
Dave: You talked about sort of starting your journey troubleshooting. You used the word troubleshooting your own-
Dave: Problems. Can you talk about that? What was it that you were troubleshooting and what was the result?
Leigh: Oh, God. What wasn't I troubleshooting? Everything, life. But specifically in regards to training and nutrition or energy expenditure, really. I found that one of the biggest hiccups in a lot of people's journey and my own is really understanding energy expenditure and what that essentially looks like is the calorie in, calorie out equation, different levels of macronutrients, NEAT, NEPA, TEF, all of these kinds of things.
When I kind of came on the scene, I was an early adopter along with some other people, James Levine, James [Creager 00:09:45], Alan [O'regan 00:09:48], all these types of people in which that were really talking about NEPA and NEAT and low grade activities, how ... Really dissecting how much our food burns and macronutrients and things like that.
Fitbit monitors and activity monitors in general, they hit the scene, and I along with other fitness professionals kinda felt they were gonna be the aha moment of things. That they were gonna really change the game.
As we learned pretty quickly, no device is un-flawed. We still have an issue with self-recording food intakes and that being correct, not to mention calories are kind of incorrect in general with how we measure them. And it is about the intake and it is about the energy but every energy's different and every intake's different and hormones, metabolism, all these kinds of things all come together.
And ultimately it was learning not only how that process worked for myself, but how it worked in science and how to relay that to lay individuals that are trying to apply it to their life. And it's a big all depends, but you have to wrap that depends in something that people can take, that they can digest with, that they can apply in some sort of real world fashion, some sort of free living society.
And that's been the kind of essence of my work, it's still the essence of my work in the fitness industry and in helping people with body composition, is helping them figure out that from themselves. Even if sometimes it's getting out of their own way or becoming their own personal little wrap ... [inaudible 00:11:18] lab.
So that's a big part of why I am what I am and who I am to people, is getting through that process, because once you understand that process, the rest of it is ... It's not easy 'cause then you have the other fun psychological games, procrastination, what do I want, motivation, I'm not gonna do it today, et cetera.
But you at least kind of dial in those physicalities that allow you to have a lot more control and in control, we find power and safety and trust and that makes the whole experience not so chaotic. And ending the chaos of weight loss is really, really, really, really important for a lot of people.
Understanding the Calories In, Calories Out Equation
Dave: Leigh, you are making my job so easy because this transition's so well back to the whole reason we're chatting right now, is Dawn's question and you even used the term calories in, calories out. And Dawn basically asked a question, she says, "I've heard that calories in, calories out is false. But I've also heard that eating too little is gonna wreck my metabolism."
She sites having a depressed metabolism and basically just sounds very confused and looking for a starting place. I do wanna talk about from technical aspect what your opinion is and how you coach your clients from a calorie perspective, how much should they be eating.
But I'm more interested actually in hearing about the psychological approach, how much do you emphasize calories at all and if not, what is the replacement for that? How do you walk someone through this process who wants to lose weight and isn't sure what they should be doing from an eating perspective?
Leigh: Yeah. Great question, which is essentially my job. The question is my job and it is the basis of how I get a lot of clients. I'll kind of break it down like this for her, that she's listening. Calories in, calories out is the only thing that matters for ... But it's how you look at the question and I say that in the aspect of that energy as an existence, it has to exist, nothing dissipates.
Water evaporates into the sky, it falls back down. Earth has a cycle, you see it in everything. Bodies decompose, they go into the earth, that grows into something else. It all just transfers and we see that in our daily life and that's not to denote spiritual energy and things like that, I'm just talking in pure physicality sense.
So with that, we have to understand that the energy that we take into our body, it's either going to be stored into fat cells or glycogen, or nutrients, protein. There's a lot of places it goes, it's not just fat. Just as there's a lot of places it comes from, it's not just fat when we pull those stores or energy uses from the body, and every day that energy usage is different.
It's different for every individual, not maybe different on a smaller metric of a wide scale, meaning that if you do the exact same things almost every single day, it's not gonna vary that much. You have subconscious energy from tapping your legs to fidgeting, things that you don't think about, which is what we know as NEAT. And there's a big discrepancy in the community, a lot of people think NEAT and NEPA are the same thing. If I wanna be quibbling over the facts, technically they're not.
NEAT, we don't have a conscious awareness of. NEPA is low grade activity basically, walking to your mailbox, taking longer ways to get to and from your work, things like that. Anything that doesn't raise the heart rate, that kind of keeps things at like a low 1.2 to 2.2 kind of activity factor burn per minute, that kind of stuff. Low grade activity, there's that how much that slows, how much it doesn't slows.
And then you have training, how much you do with that, how much you don't do with that. And then you have those other variable metabolic factors, which to be clear the most affected factors are based on metabolic rate and then all of those little things that we do in the day.
People put way too much focus and emphasis on like TEF, which is thermic effect of food, how much it takes to digest food and things like that, and a lot of those various like, "Oh, as I age my metabolism has slowed down." Or, "As I've XYZ, I've been diagnosed with this illness, my metabolism does this."
How Mental Health Impacts Physical Health
When we actually look at it in research and studies, the metabolism doesn't so much slow down itself. However, it's a point to the other factor, the psychology of our nature changes very much. So for example, maybe having a [inaudible 00:15:33] or having depression doesn't necessarily slow down your technical metabolic rate, but it very much can affect your NEAT, it can very much affect how much you wanna walk in a day.
It can affect how emotionally invested you are in food or even the amount of attention you're paying to nibbling or a [inaudible 00:15:49] other host of things, your energy or your desire to wanna do things.
Does having depression mean that you're going to be over weight? No. Can you see that there's a host of a contributory factors that can lead to that very easily and very manipulatively in its sense? Of course! It can also lead to being underweight as well because these factors vary.
So when you look at it like that and you look at all the dots that connect and there's a great meme or infographic out there that's like basically it has obesity in the middle and then a spiderweb of reasons like outside of it. It really is like that inside of the body as well as far as caloric intake goes and outtake or expenditure.
When we look at it like that, we have to find the variables that work with ourselves and we have to not be tight to numbers that we think we deserve, that we think we're owed, that we think should be right or should not be right, that are broken or not broken. And we simply need to kind of put all that aside and see what works for us.
Nobody Can Do It All Alone
So for some clients for example, what do I do with my clients, there are some clients that don't count calories at all. I train them to "intuitively eat", which is technically not a true statement because intuition is basically an internal sixth sense. You can't train an internal sixth sense, but I teach them how to listen to cues, hunger cues, what a deficit feels like, what it doesn't feel like.
What they like to eat, what they don't like to eat, so that they can kind of guide through the day and figure that out and then they'll see consistency. We do measure on some sort of metric so it's not just put out there. There are some clients that like knowing exactly what the facts and variables are.
They like to weigh, they like to measure, they like to work within a deficit or a maintenance of their calories within a certain range. I'm mostly ... I do help with programming, I do help with the strategy of their lifestyle and everything, but every single client, every single one picks it for themselves. I don't pick it, they pick it and I think that's very important.
I tell them what they need to do if they wanna achieve a goal. We set up accountability goals based upon what it is they have selected, meaning if they tell me that they wanna do five deficit days within a week and they wanna have maintenance days on the weekends and we ... I explain to them not to overeat, not to do these things and this is how they'll hit their goals, they stay on their goals and it becomes a teamwork system.
I am not a boss, I'm not yelling at them. I'm not disappointed in them if they haven't achieved anything because I learned a long time ago that that kind of drill sergeant mentality it can work. Obviously it's never my style anyway, but it can work and you can scare people into disappointing you and it's method.
But truth be told, it's kind of like an alcoholic that doesn't wanna stop drinking or someone who doesn't wanna get into shape or someone who needs to divorce someone they're with that they shouldn't be with. They gotta figure that out themselves.
So I’m Mr. Miyagi to them, I teach them to fish; I teach them to like do their tricks. I make sure that they have all the education they need and then go about their way, and sometimes they stay with me for accountability just so they're not alone and they have someone to kinda keep them on track. But most of the time they just go and they feel better and educated for it. So there is not one system, even every check I do with every client is different.
Some of them we do it over the text, some of them we do it over email, some I just talk to them on the phone every once in a while. It just ... It all varies because each client truly is different and what's the point of having and individualized coach and system that's not truly individualized, especially for what I charge.
And that is true but I think that answers the question hopefully for her so she sees just how wide span it is and that there is not a yes or no to that question. It's more so where are the dots, how they connect and those are the variables and that's like maddening. Right? But it's comforting because that is life.
Dave: And it is maddening because I imagine Dawn and many other listeners, even myself included would love for you to just say, "Okay, you're 55 years old. You're a female."-
Dave: "Just eat this many calories per day."
Remove the "Bad" Label From Your Food
Leigh: Yep. It's funny, I'm working on ... And I won't say exactly what because literally like contracts are in the work or what have you. But I'm working on an app with some individuals and one of the ques ... that I'm kind of taking over coaching and the things that are saying in coaching and things like that and responses to that. And one of the things they said in their coaching responses was...
An individual said, "Oh, can I have this orange?" And their response was, "Oh, yeah. It's free. You can have as much fruit as you want in a day." And I was like, "No. No, no, no, you can't." And they were like, "Well what's wrong with that? Fruit's not fattening or the [inaudible 00:20:21]" I was like, "The calories end up adding up. Fruit's not bad, meat's not bad, dairy is not bad, wheat's not bad, bread's not bad.
These things aren't bad but you have to take them into account into the overall whole and they all add up." There are no free foods, there is no you can do this or you can do that. There's no just one flat answer. A 55 year old woman burns 1,400 calories a day, she can eat as much fruit as she wants and she'll lose weight. It doesn't work that way.
Everything has a price and a variable and an energy, and people get upset when they look at it like that and I understand. But truth of it is, is that it's actually very comforting when you look at food not as this punishment source or reward source per se, but if you just break it down to the bare bones and you take a bite of an apple, it supplies energy and nutrients in the body and fulfills a need, a storage, a circulation of like burning and an exercise need or even just breathing need.
Most of us barely earn an egg in an hour, that are sedentary lifestyle individuals. I mean an egg is ... depending on the size of it, a 70 to 90 calorie object and sedentary activity that's most of the energy that we're provided, and granted that's different for during training sessions or things like that and for a larger men.
You look like a bigger guy, I don't know how tall or big you are, but from your like really cute little picture I got here popped up on Skype, you look like a bigger guy. But it wouldn't be true for you but it would definitely be true for her. And when you look at it like wow, that's feeding and thriving me for an hour maybe at best.
That's what that energy is doing, it's supplying with that and when that's gone, I'm either going to go into stores or I'm going to go into another energy source, be it a drink, a coffee that has calories in it, a piece of fruit. Whatever that is, it keeps going like that and when you look at it in that manner, the piece of meat, it does ... that it supplies you with this energy and it supplies you with this repair.
And something that's crappier like a pop tart, it provides you with not much repair of nutrients but it certainly gives you a big surge of energy and a draw of that type of sugar and glycogen. When you look at it all like that as fuel. You can see how you may not deserve things when you may not be drawing from as much energy as you actually think you are in a day.
And where some people might be drawing way more and they need a lot more because they're like, "Wow, no I'm ... I don't stop going really. I do need this food. I do need this. Like I've been going and going and going. I need more food. I need to fill the tank. I'm going off of stores." Which is your fat or glycogen or sometimes your protein if you're not doing it right, your stored amino acids, muscle.
And you look at it like that and it stops being so personal, you stop getting so pissed about it and I still get kinda pissed about 'cause I'm like I want all the things, I want all the foods, I wanna earn everything and you just can't. And you have to make those decisions and you kinda have to be a grown up and say, "Okay. I only deserve this. I don't deserve that. Let's see where I can fit it in today.
If I want a little bit more, I can earn it but it's not punishment, it's a reward and that's okay too." Food is a stress reliever, it is celebratory event. These are all good things. You just have to look at it in the right way and understand it for what it is. So I hate that I can't give Dawn that like perfect answer, but I'm hoping that within the answer that I give, it's more of an education and hopefully in that she finds a peace. That's the goal for like all my clients is peace.
Dave: And something that works because you probably-
Dave: Could give her a pretty rough ... If you tried, I'm sure-
Dave: If you had a five minute chat with her, you could give her an estimate but-
Leigh: Oh God, yes. It's almost automatic at this point.
Why It's Not Just About Calories
Dave: Is that actually gonna help? Like the fact that she asked this question suggests to me that she could've gone online and done some BMR calculator and figured out roughly how many calories she should be eating. But it suggests to me that there's something deeper, for some reason it's still not working for her.
Leigh: Yeah. I find that the anomalies for just even the most basic calculating systems pretty rare. It's usually in the effort, the tracking and self-reporting and how much things can really add up in a day versus motivation. How much things really wanna change or how much you really wanna change things and that's not to say that she doesn't or what have you. But I know when my motivation was really strong and I say this as an anecdotal standpoint, I had extremely strong motivation.
I was "tracking my food" based upon certain activity factors and assessments but with my aggressive level of training, my low level of NEAT, I just didn't burn as much as I hoped I did. So my deficits that I was creating mixed with any sort of "maintenance days", I was basically just staying the same.
My deficits weren't low enough and maintenance stores were a little too high and just because you're training five days a week, it doesn't mean you have an insanely fast metabolism. It just means you're training five days a week. Five days a week, your [inaudible 00:25:13] goes up for a little for 45 to 60 minutes, that's it. You might have a little bit more muscle, there might be a little bit more after burn, but that's kind of it.
Now the lifestyle that you'd lead when you're someone who trains, my lifestyle when I train is completely different. I'm more active in general outside of the training. I make better lifestyle choices in general outside of the training because they all kind of come together. You know?
But when you're looking at them like singles and you're looking at it in just the metabolic rate or just the calories, you throw in just that training or throw in just these little things, it doesn't make that big of a dent.
So if I go for example, to the ... when I ... My assistant/friend and love of life Katie, she loves Disney World. She loves it, it's her place. She'll go there as many times as she can and whenever I go with her to Disney World, I burn like 3,000 some calories a day and I'm a little thing, because we just don't stop walking.
I always lose weight because I'm not a huge fan of eating out, I'm a little bit pickier. I love to cook and I'm like ... I like some foods, I also ... I'm a vegetarian by ethical choice. So there's not of like ... There's a lot of meat options, not a lot of protein options.
So I do a lot of like eating eggs or some protein bars and just trying to get it where I can. Always end up losing weight because I'm moving a ton, I'm also training, I'm having fun, my energy's up, my NEAT's up, my NEPA's up, all these kinds of things are going crazy. I can lose weight like nothing.
I go home, I can train really hard and do everything that I can and I'm lucky sometimes to burn like 1,800 calories in a day, maybe 2,000. It's not because I have a depressed metabolism, it's not because I'm unhealthy, it certainly isn't 'cause I don't eat. It's because I don't move very much and when I do move, I'm efficient and trained.
So you have to take in these variables and you have to not get emotionally or personally attached to them, which is what a lot of people do. They get really emotional about it, they get really attached to it, they think it means something. I did too, so I get that.
I thought I deserved more and I thought maybe there's something wrong with me, but there's not. There's just science and it's what it is and in a weird way, it's good thing because it means you're efficient and you're healthy and you're taking care of yourself. Your heart rate's lower and all these things.
It's a bad in that you don't get quite as much food sometimes, but that's okay 'cause it all pays out to the balance. So I think just look at it, whoever you are listening to it. Just look at it all from like that kind of angle and I think that you'll feel better about the choices you can make, the choices you can't make and that it all makes this kind of collective whole.
That to me paints an overall healthy lifestyle and image and trust and self-esteem, where you might be lacking a little bit on extra desserts or "cheat days", which I don't entirely believe in but you get what I mean. I think I made some sense there.
How Does Age Affect Your Metabolism?
Dave: Leigh, there are so many follow up questions I'd love to ask but there's one thing that you touched on actually quite some time ago. You were talking about metabolism and you had made the comment that people that their metabolism may be shifting or depressing more so than it actually is. And you were speaking about medical conditions and used the specific example of depression and how that will actually lead to-
Dave: Behavioral choices that lead to a smaller calorie burn on a daily basis.
Dave: In Dawn's question, she says, "I'm 54 years old. I know that my metabolism isn't working as well as it once was." Do you believe that that statement is true, that purely based on age, her metabolism is significantly depressed or-
Leigh: Significantly, no.
Dave: So then I guess my follow up question is ... Because research would show that as we age we are burning fewer calories.
Leigh: It's you.
Dave: Where does the balance lie between it's a physiological thing versus a behavioral thing?
Leigh: They're both tied. So this is what it looks like from a research standpoint, right? And it's going to also be different for every individual. For example, who's ... I'll use someone like Lou [Schoeler 00:29:11] in the industry. I don't know how old Lou [Schoeler 00:29:14] is, he says it all the time.
He always talks about how he's such an old man but I assure you that Lou [Schoeler 00:29:20] with his training and with his activity and what he does in a day, has a far more above grade average metabolic rate than the average person his age. I even approaching upon the 40's, like it's coming, it's around the corner, but my metabolic rate is actually higher than it was in behavior and activity than when I was in my early 20's.
Because my early 20's, I spent a lot of time lounging, loafing, drinking, hanging out and not doing anything and basically just like wasting my life essentially, which is how I got in the industry. So there's a lot of these kinda caveats where yes, we do atrophy in a social sense as time goes on.
However, we have also seen that these atrophy incidences in which atrophying or less muscle mass can contribute to a lower metabolic rate. But these things don't have to take place, we move less over time. But again these don't have to have to take place.
There are certain slight hormonal changes, but again these things don't have to take place and in deficits or with training, I have seen peri, postmenopausal and even further, have really good metabolic rates and be able to eat and be active because their lifestyles are also affected associated by this.
So if you put for example a completely sedentary, same muscle mass as much as possible, same body fat as much as possible individual that is 20 years old next to a 50 year old, are there going to be slight differences and ... based on metabolic rate and heart rate. I mean really small, we're talking ... Usually the word clinical significance isn't even going to be relevant. However, when you look at them as a whole and a group, yeah! Because as we age, we get as a whole more depressed.
After adolescence, the ages between 35 to 65 years old have the next highest rate of suicide, depression, anxiety treatment and health issues due to debilitation and how we treat ourselves, take care of ourselves. Basically we're getting older, mortality creeps in. We are less mobile because our lives are less sedentary. Sometimes we just hone it in.
For a lot of people, life after 30 is death. They just don't know what to do anymore, the dreams stop, ambitions stop. It's an actual society epidemic and a problem in which that youth is completely celebrated and anything over the age of 30 is now seen as working toward the deceased. And I think a lot of that impacts from sociological, psychological standpoint that literally does affect our metabolic rate.
So you can have a completely normal and functioning metabolic rate in comparison to say a 20 year old if you want to. Does it happen naturally in our societal function and our body function with ease? Is it one of those things that we slowly kind of shut down, hibernate, cuddle in and Netflix and chill it for the rest of our lives? Yeah, we do.
That's what happens. It's not societal promoted, it's not in a lifestyle promotion. But there are physiological things that we usually tie it to that aren't always the case. The actual basal metabolic rate does not drop that much. The actual muscle mass does that much until you get a little bit higher into the senior ages, you don't see too much of an aggression.
The aggression does kick in after the senior points, usually around the 65 to 70 year old zone, you actually enter into a more anorexia type stake with your appetite. You don't wanna eat as much, you don't move as much which is why having worked in a retirement homes myself, you see very few overweight people in retirement homes, because appetite decreases with the energy decreases.
So the slight energy decreases and behavioral and psychological decreases that happen between the ages of roughly 35 to 55, 65 year old, all of those kind of get caught up with if you made it through it, if you didn't get cancer, a heart attack, completely drive yourself into the ground, suicide, et cetera…
If you made it to that next zone, appetite decreases a lot, energy also decreases a lot, atrophy really kicks in and you really have to fight for that mobility, agility, recovery and things like that. But even working in those zones, there's a lot that you can do and if you can master it, you can really be flying into those kind of time zones because you're ... you have less of an appetite or smaller and in general, smaller people kind of live longer.
It's sociological study of it that usually the bigger and taller you are and heavier you are, the less the lifespan. True as in dogs, true as in humans. It's just one of those kinds of things.
So when you look at that as like the overall variable and factor, you can really see do I need to focus on maybe a hundred calorie clinical change in my basal metabolic rate that could even be compensated by a little bit of adding on muscle mass through effort or a little bit of low grade activity and NEPA. Is it that big of a significance? No. We see it's really not that big of one.
But does it oh, affect us psychologically, physically to create a huge caloric burn significance overall? Yeah, it does. It really does. So I'm not downplaying the physicality role that there is, but the physicality role to me is a lot less damaging than the societal role. The societal and psychological ramifications of it are so much more aggressive in my opinion than the actual technical metabolic suppression that takes place.
Leigh: If that makes sense.
Dave: Yeah, totally. As in Leigh, I'm totally glad you explained it that way because that's actually a very positive and motivating message. What I just heard from your description there, is that the things that are in our control can lead to the biggest positive change or us maintaining basically our younger self the most.
And the things that are out of our control actually have somewhat limited impact and so it's not this depressive thing that oh my gosh, I just hit 45. All of a sudden my metabolism is gonna turn off and there's nothing I can do about it. In actuality, it's that my metabolism may be slowing down slightly.
Dave: But there are many, many, many things that I can do that far surpass the impact that my metabolism would ever be having.
Avoid the “I’m Getting Old” Mindset
Leigh: Absolutely and there's even clinical research, there's even psychological research that for example, we haven't seen this exactly or like specifically in talking to people in regards to telling them they're metabolism is gonna slow with your age. But we actually have seen it in our [inaudible 00:35:49] research and in other mobility research in that telling patients and clients that basically things are going to get worse, makes it worse.
So this collective narrative that we have with saying, "Oh as I get older I can't do as much as ..." I mean it's almost like a bad ... you know, that's what she said joke in a health sense. You know it's like I get it, like you're getting older, the metabolism slows. But the truth be told, it's in your control.
Now obviously we don't know that collectively, so I don't say that in a smarmy sense. I don't say it thinking like everybody should know that, because that is the collective commonplace narrative. You get older, your metabolism slows, things just don't work as good anymore. And don't get me wrong, like with anything, things don't work as good anymore, you get hurt easier, the recovery rate is a little bit slower.
These things are true, but we all go back to this like "metabolism". It's just this catch all for everything, and it's not necessarily that's the case and in fact, sometimes pressing harder can make the metabolic rate increase a little bit because you are trying to recover so hard in which that you don't naturally recover as easily.
So in a weird way putting a lot of like muscles, tension and strain and training harder on the body can actually cause an increase of metabolic rate because the body has to work that much harder to do something that it used to easier do.
And when you look at it in those kind of variables and in those little facts, you can see how you can have a larger "metabolic rate" at a higher older age and feel better than you've ever felt, even sans having technically clinically sub par metabolic rate to what you had in a younger age point. And that's how I think we should look at it, which is why to me age is a factor, we should take it into account.
We should especially take it into account when we're talking about recovery and nutrition and kind of taking care ourselves in the aspect of that. Because there are ages in which we start to go to in which we're more susceptible to cancers, more susceptible to diseases and kind of the hiccups things of what we've done, and there some stuff genetically we just can't help at all.
However, if you try to look at it in just, "I'm just gonna keep going. I'm gonna do things smart. I'm gonna watch my energy intake. I'm gonna remember my limits, and I'm going to do the things that I need to do."
But we're not broken and brittle just because 40 comes around the corner or 50 or 60, and I can show you research and anecdotal to do so. I mean even in nursing homes, they do a lot of testing about even just with leg press machines and with trying to get people ... You know 'cause fall prevention is really important.
I've done a lot of research in fall prevention and things to help with fall prevention and trying to help people go through this. It is such an avoidable death risk for the elderly and in that, it takes such little time to get people built back up. But that's not our societal rule, and we certainly don't treat people well in retirement homes, and that's physical therapy, it's not a protocol.
We sit them, and we hopefully entertain them, we leave them in hallways. It's terrible. It's something I feel very strongly about, and these things are completely avoidable and when you look at the actual atrophy and muscle mass, even the elderly, we're talking 95 type elderly can rebuild muscle at that age and agility.
So no, I don't think it's just boom, I'm 55, boom I'm 40, boom I'm this. That's it, life's over, what can I do? It's taking your power away and I understand it in a frustration sense because of the social narrative we're fed and the fears that we have. And I'm not trying to like downplay the difficulties of it, but I say take the power back and look at ultimately what you can do, instead of what you're told or convinced that you can't by this like societal chatter that we just have to shut out because it shouldn't be that way.
Dave: Oh, Leigh I completely agree. You used a word earlier, you talked about mastering and I love that word. Mastery is so important to me because there's a million little habits that'll contribute to positive health and if we work on mastering these little habits, the total sum is just a huge benefit for us.
And so I'm encouraged hearing your message and I just wanna challenge all the listeners, Dawn if you're listening think about that. Where are you gonna start? What's that one thing that you're gonna master that's gonna exactly like Leigh said, take back that control and not let you be as slave to age. Love it.
Leigh, I know there's gonna be a lot of listeners who would like to follow up with you and learn more about what you do, perhaps read some of your books. Where's the best place that they can reach out to you?
Get In Touch with Leigh
Leigh: The easiest way to keep it simple, leighpeele.com. It's my name. You can google Leigh Peele, you can find books, contact information, membership site, anything like that, how to work with me all through leighpeele.com.
Leigh: There's a button to click somewhere there.
Dave: Okay, great and for the listeners, if you go to makeyourbodywork.com/112, I'll put the link to Leigh's website, I'll put a link to her books and to some of the other resources we talked about, NEAT, NEPA. Talked about some different professionals in the field who you might wanna follow up with and I'll put links to all of that in the show notes.
So again, you can go to makeyourbodywork.com/112. Leigh, it's been a pleasure. I just can feel your passion and you obviously have done a ton of research and spent a lot of time helping people through these stumbling blocks like Dawn expressed. So thanks for being here with us.
Leigh: Thank you so much for having me and asking extremely interesting questions.
Dave: Thanks again Leigh for joining us today and just for sharing so much wisdom, so much motivation and a really inspiring message that we can overcome our age, and that aging isn't the end of our metabolism. That there are so many things that we can do that actually supersede the amount that our metabolism would be depressed by getting older.
And for you the listener, I just really want you to hold on to that message. You have control and you have the power to take the steps to keep your metabolism functioning like Leigh said. Just as it was 10 years ago or 15 years or 20 years ago, it's hugely based on how you choose to live your life.
If you wanna follow along with Leigh, if you wanna contact her, if want to check out any of the other resources because we talked about many different concepts and many different resources in this episode, be sure to go to makeyourbodywork.com/112 and I'll have everything there listed in the show notes. And of course, I'll be back again next week, I've got another great question, another great guest and I can't wait to see you here.