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You’ve probably heard that once you hit 40, it’s all downhill when it comes to your weight.

That inexplicable force we call our metabolism does begin to grind a bit slower every year from age 30 onward.

Here’s the good news: The rate at which your metabolism slows down is actually rather minimal. In reality, most weight gain that happens in midlife isn’t the result of a slower metabolism at all.

Instead, it comes down to a simple but changeable truth: As we get older, we get less and less active.

While this might sound depressing, it’s actually great news. There’s plenty we can do to counteract the slow, seemingly inevitable onset of poundage. But first, here are some basics about what metabolism is — and what it isn’t.

How your body burns energy

Our resting metabolic rate is a measure of how much energy we expend — or “burn” — when we’re at rest. It’s determined by a combination of factors, including your height, sex, and the genes you got from your parents, and it can’t be altered much, no matter what you do.

Beyond that, our bodies appear to enter into three more distinct phases of calorie burning, depending on what we’re doing. These three are the types of metabolism that most people are referring to when they say doing certain things, like eating spicy food or working out, can “boost” your metabolism.

Most of the things that people say will boost your metabolism won’t

When we’re eating, we burn a small number of calories (roughly 10% of our total calories burned for the day). This is called the thermic effect of food, and it’s the first of those three phases I mentioned earlier. We can turn up the heat on this process a tiny bit (but not by a whole lot) by doing things like drinking stimulant beverages like coffee and eating large amounts of protein.

“Eating foods like green tea, caffeine, or hot chili peppers will not help you shed excess pounds,” notes an entry in the ADAM Medical Encyclopedia, hosted by the National Institutes of Health. “Some may provide a small boost in your metabolism, but not enough to make a difference in your weight.”

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SOURCE: Business Insider