You’ve always been active your whole life, but the weight keeps creeping in, leaving you wondering what you could be doing wrong. Turns out, it becomes difficult to lose weight the more you age. The thing is, with age, our bodies stop responding the same way they did in our late 20s and mid-30s to weight loss efforts. However, not everyone will become overweight as they age due to the different generic composition of the body. Still, the highest percentage of the population will find it harder to maintain or lose weight with each passing year.
Weight Gain Vs. Age
According to research, a process known as lipid turnover, which refers to how quickly your body removes fat, is slowed down by age. As a result, the stubborn body fat refuses to budge as quickly as it used to.
Studies also show that an average adult can gain between one and two pounds every year when age gets the better of them. Over time, the little accumulation can lead to a significant weight gain and, in some cases, obesity.
Hormones are also to blame for the weight gain that comes with age. The testosterone levels in men start to drop as is the case with the levels of estrogen in women. This leads to the formation of more abdominal fat, which can be difficult to lose.
That said, here are four reasons why losing weight becomes harder as we age, and what to do about it.
It’s a known fact that metabolism tends to slow down as we get older. Metabolism is a complex process that’s responsible for converting calories into energy. The more fat and the less muscle you have, the lower the calorie burn. It’s also a known fact that people become less active the more they age, a factor that contributes to slow metabolism. Maybe you have developed heart disease, chronic pain, joint pain, or diabetes that further inhibit your level of being active. Regardless, getting off that bench and becoming more active is a good solution in improving your slow metabolism. Try to go for walks, short runs, gym, cycling, or swimming. These activities will improve your blood flow and calorie burning, eventually, helping you to manage your weight and prevent certain health conditions.
Increase in Levels of Stress
From sedentary lifestyles, to work pressure, raising kids, and planning for your retirement, responsibilities increase with age. This can trigger an increase in the release of cortisol, a stress response hormone. While cortisol can help trigger a ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ response (which can be useful in life-threatening situations), sometimes we encounter non-life-threatening moments that can still cause stress. This is known to cause unnecessary cortisol to be stored as fat cell deposits in our bodies. While it’s not entirely possible to avoid stress, you can find effective ways to reduce it. This includes eating a diet rich in nuts and seeds, including pistachios, cashews, and sunflower seeds. These nuts and seeds contain vital minerals and amino acids that produce energy, regulate the nervous system, and help synthesize protein.
Additionally, getting sufficient sleep and engaging in exercises boosts your mood and increases blood flow, two factors that are known to help people deal with stress.
As mentioned earlier, both men and women undergo normal hormonal changes as part of aging. Women go through menopause, which occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, causing a significant drop in estrogen. This causes extra pounds to settle around the belly. The shift in fat storage is likely to lead to weight gain and the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. Furthermore, the low estrogen levels during perimenopause (years leading to menopause), can cause fluctuations in mood, making it difficult to stick to a healthy diet or exercise program. Men also experience a drop in testosterone when they hit the age of 40.
When testosterone, which is tasked with regulating the fat distribution and muscle strength and mass, among other functions, starts to decline, the body becomes less effective in burning calories. The production of growth hormones by the pituitary glands also starts to gradually decline from middle age. These hormones are responsible for building and maintaining muscle mass, which, in turn, impacts the burning of calories. So, if the body produces less and less of these hormones, it becomes harder for the body to build and maintain muscle, making it difficult to burn calories.
Age-Related Muscle Mass Loss
In one research published in the Journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, the amount of lean muscle in our bodies naturally begins to decline by three to eight percent per decade after age 30. People who become less active due to age-related health issues like arthritis may also start to lose muscle. The lean muscle in the body uses more calories than fat. This means one should regularly engage in strength training with weights to maintain and build muscles. It is also advisable to include more high-protein foods like beans, nuts, seeds, and lentils in your diet.
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