As your body gets older each year are you noticing that weight gain is becoming a part of your norm and weight loss is becoming a lot more difficult? If you just angrily muttered ‘yes’ under your breath then this is the article for you. As we get older, our bodies don’t respond the same way to weight loss efforts, in fact numerous studies have been conducted stating that as we age we tend to gain weight.
There are a majority of reasons why this occurs such as a change in hormones, a more sedentary lifestyle, an increase in stress, decrease in sleep and many more. If you have pondered the question on whether weight gain is a normal part of the ageing process, then let us first say, yes it is and now let’s get to the most frequently asked question… why?
Age-Related Muscle Loss
Have you heard of the process Sarcopenia? Don’t worry, we hadn’t either before we conducted our research. Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterized by progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength as a result of ageing. The amount of lean muscle our bodies have naturally decreases by 3 to 8% per decade after age 30. You may also lose muscle if you are less active due to age-related health conditions or if you’ve been benched due to an injury.
You may be wondering… why does muscle loss even matter? Well lean muscles use more calories than fat. So unless you are frequently strength training with weight to build and maintain muscle then your body will need fewer calories each day. Therefore weight gain is more likely if you continue to consume that same number of calories as you did when you were younger.
Both women and men go through hormonal changes due to ageing. For women, menopause causes a significant drop in estrogen, which encourages weight gain to set up camp around the belly. Fluctuations in estrogen during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) are linked to mood swings, which can make sticking to a health diet and exercise much more difficult, therefore leading to weight gain.
Men experience a significant drop in testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for regulating fat distribution and muscle strength and mass therefore when these levels begin to decline, it can make the body less effective at burning calories.
As your muscle mass is decreasing your metabolism is also slowing down. So we are in a position where having more fat and less muscle reduces calories burning, we are living a more sedentary lifestyle, which slows down our metabolism and various health conditions may arise as we age such as hypothyroidism, which too slows down our metabolic rate.
Some of the reasons for weight gain as we age actually have nothing to do with what’s happening inside your body and everything to do with what’s happening around it. In our older years our career is in full swing, we have children and various other responsibilities. Therefore that hour each day we used to spend in the gym or going for a walk, is taken up with a more important responsibility. All that extra time you have in the evenings to prepare a super healthy meal is also taken away therefore convenience and ease has become more attractive.
Weight gain is a normal part of ageing, we may not like it but it’s something we need to accept and get used to. However there is no need to fret, this doesn’t mean that our bodies are doomed once we turn 40. Now that you have the information all you need to do is make a conscious effort to maintain an active lifestyle, make healthier choices and ensure you have some you time even when life is too crazy.