People struggling with weight have usually tried every diet they had encountered, to little or no avail. Is that you, too? We know how exhausting it can get. Unfortunately, if you’re not in your twenties, we have some bad news. As we age, it gets harder and harder to maintain a healthy weight. If you were ever lucky enough to get by on pizzas, well, that period is likely to end even before you hit 30; and if you never experienced the lifestyle of a junk-food-eating skinny person, you never will. Here’s why it gets harder and harder to shed the extra weight as you age, and what you can do about it.
Your Metabolism Sucks
Sorry to break it to you: as we age, metabolism gets slower and slower. What is metabolism anyway, you might ask? Basically, it’s your body converting food into energy. Science says your metabolism slows down 5 percent every decade after you turn 40. So when the food-into-energy process slows down, you can’t burn calories like you used to. Luckily, you can beat the prospect of this in an easy way: cut your calories by 100 a day. This really is not much – but looking at it in the long run, you’re looking at up to 5 kilos a year you can possibly gain.
You’re Losing Your Precious Muscles
The saying “use it or lose it” can be applied both to your brain and your muscle, especially as you age. If you’re not active, muscle mass loss is bound to happen over years. And that’s a shame, because muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the easier it is to lose weight or maintain it. This sounds devastating, and it is, but the good news? You can do something about it. The key is in strength training, which can help you gain muscle mass. And as we just said, the more muscle you have, the more you will increase your metabolism. Also, don’t forget high-protein foods, as they’re crucial in maintaining muscle mass.
You Are Actually Hungrier
You’re not imagining it: you crave food more than you used to. After turning 40, estrogen levels fall, and that’s responsible for changes in blood sugar and thyroid. Results? An increased appetite. Yeah, body, thank you very much. Combined with the muscle mass loss we just mentioned, weight gain has never been easier. This one is hard to fight, because obviously, you cannot change your hormone levels. What you can do though is swap out low-nutrient calorie-dense food (also known as junk food) for foods rich in fiber, such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. However, if you find it almost impossible to fight your changing hormones, there’s no shame in considering the benefits of gastric band surgery – especially if you’re struggling with obesity, which can lead to life-threatening conditions.
You Lack Sleep
As they age, some people find it nearly impossible to get the prescribed eight hours of sleep a day. You might know it all too well: life is stressful, you might be taking medications that keep you up, and sometimes your bladder wakes you up in the middle of the night – more than once. Unfortunately, not only lack of sleep is linked to weight gain, but the fatigue caused by it can mess with your decision making, meaning – it’s likely you will be reaching for a burger at lunch instead of that chicken salad. So yeah, sometimes it isn’t your fault. What can you do about this particular cause of weight gain? Not much, apart from getting the necessary sleep. Try eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and working out three to four times a week – it might improve your ability to catch some zzz’s through the night.
You’re Getting More Fat (Insert Sad Emoji)
Not only are you losing muscle mass, but as you age, your body retains more of a certain type of fat. Did you know that there’s the good fat, apart from the one you don’t want to keep? Brown fat generates heat and burns calories, which isn’t that bad. But that’s the one you also lose. The fat you’re getting more as you age is the white fat, which does nothing but store excess calories. As if this list wasn’t pessimistic enough! However, if you follow a healthy diet and work out, you will minimize the content of white fat, and that’s something.
As shown above, the truth is hard: older people are indeed more prone to weight gain, and that just happens naturally. But even if you cannot reverse or stop the causes, you can control your lifestyle choices. By doing so, your scale won’t be your enemy – and even more important, you’ll stay strong and healthy even as there are more and more candles on your birthday cake.