If you are in your 40s, chances are you’ve started to see a couple of extra layers around the middle where there may have been none before. And the reason, most of us are told to believe, is that our metabolism has slowed down. Because of this, it is seen as something out of our control: metabolism is the culprit and it has little to do with us. But is this even realistic? Does your metabolism, in fact, ‘slow down’?

The answer to this is no. it does not.

Rather, something else is happening. And, more often than not, it is because we continue to eat in exactly the same way as we did in our 20s and 30s.

Our daily calorie needs are what has changed: not our metabolism.

Here is a quick example. If I use my own height, weight, and age, then my daily calorie requirement (just to stay alive and not counting the exercise or other physical activity I do which also requires fuel) is 1598. Taking the same height and weight that I am now, and going back 20 years to when I was 28, my daily calorie requirements would have been 1698.

I require a full 100 calories less now than I did 20 years ago. But has my appetite changed, all that much? No, not really. I still eat the same way. But should I?

You see, the fact that we “start putting on” at around 40 is not because our metabolism has somehow slowed down. It’s because our habits have not changed even though, now, we require less energy than we previously did. Even factoring in for exercise and other daily activities, we still need less.

So begin the process by looking at what you are eating every day and, as a place to start, consider reducing your portion sizes. This you can do by simply using a smaller plate. We have the tendency to want to fill our plate and when the plate is large…well, we pack it end-to-end. We can still pack end-to-end with a smaller plate. The result? Less overall calorie intake per day.

More often than not, it’s not our metabolism: it’s our habits which have not changed.