Have you been dieting or as I have heard so many times, “being good” about what you’re eating, but not seeing the results you expected? Here are some of the reasons why, as we get older, it becomes more difficult to maintain or lose weight and my best tips to set you up for success.
As we get older, our bodies don’t respond the same way to weight loss efforts. More than 2 out of 3 American’s are overweight or obese according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
In fact, we tend to gain weight to the tune of 1 to 2 pounds per year as we age. That may not seem like much, but over time it can lead to significant weight gain and, in some cases, obesity, a condition marked by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
Weight gain can start increasing in a person’s twenties and maximize between the ages of 45-59. Craig Primack, M.D, an obesity medicine physician, says that our body weight is highly influenced by our genetic make up, level of physical activity and our food choices. Most people find it harder to maintain or lose weight as each birthday passes us by.
Strength Training is Key for Maintaining a Healthy Calorie Burning Metabolism.
Weight Gain and Age
“Most people will not adjust calories,” explains Marcio Griebeler, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “They keep eating the same amount, but because they have less muscle mass to burn those calories and they are less active, they end up gaining weight over time.”
Our Body’s Hormonal Changes
Men and women both undergo changes in hormone levels as we age. Middle age is the time that we see our “middle age spread” including belly and back fat.
Menopause in women, which usually occurs between 45-55, causes a drop in estrogen that may encourage extra pounds to settle around our belly and thicken our waists. Our mood can also fluctuate which also makes it more difficult to stick to healthier lower calorie eating and exercise. This weight gain can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol.
Men experience a drop is testosterone which begins to decline around age 40 at a rate of about 1 -2 percent per year. Testosterone regulates fat distribution and muscle strength. As testosterone declines it can make the body less effective at burning calories.
The production of growth hormones produced by the Pituitary Gland also declines starting at middle age according to Harvard Health. One of the functions of Growth Hormones is to build and maintain muscle mass. When it decreases, this impacts your body’s’ caloric burn.
The Simple Explanation of Metabolism
Metabolism is the process that converts calories into energy. When muscle mass decreases your metabolism slows down. Having more fat and less muscle mass reduces calorie burning. Besides age, your thyroid, body size and sex also are determents to your metabolism.
Are you Stressed and more Sedentary?
Do you sit most of the day at work?
Do you spend many days at work to busy to eat properly?
Have you experienced lifestyle changes? Such as; starting a family, attending to the needs of your family as they get older, experienced any illnesses and injuries. All impact our ability to maintain appropriate eating and exercise habits and routines.
The Best way to battle the Midlife Bulge
Increase Healthy Foods
Marcio Griebeler, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio says increase healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and decrease sugar and processed food.
Whole foods such as vegetables, beans, nuts and fruit. I would add avocados to this group even though they are higher in calories, avocados are satiating, fiber and vitamin filled and contain high amounts of heart healthy mono-saturated fats. This helps you feel fuller longer!
Cut Your Portion Size
Start by knowing what you are eating. If you are unsure of the calorie count of any snacks or meals I would suggest an easy app called Bite Snap. This handy app allows you to take a photo of your meal and provides you with information about the meal as well as the calorie count on your plate. I suggest starting out by cutting your daily calorie intake by 200. You would be surprised to see what a big difference this can make over time.
Drink Water and Stay Hydrated
Don’t confuse thirst for hunger! Drinking water ramps up metabolism and helps to increase the breakdown of fat.
Stop the Madness and Chill Out…..
When we are stressed we tend to eat more. Take 5, breath, exercise, meditate, take a walk… activity distracts us and helps to de-stress.
Work your Major Muscles
Remember we need lean muscle mass as we age. Strength Training is a must to fight back the bulge and weight gain and stay strong. With muscle we burn calories more efficiently, become more active which provides us with great stamina.
MOVE – MOVE – MOVE
Aerobic activity walking, jogging, swimming biking – anything that gets your heart rate up. The best medicine.
AS we age a good nights sleep seems to get harder and harder. Many of us confuse hunger with being tired. Poor sleeping contributes to weight gain, lack of energy and focus and less energy. Recommended – 7-9 hours a night.