Why Getting Older Makes Weight Loss Difficult
As we age many people find that losing weight becomes harder than it used to be. Our expert explores the causes behind this phenomenon as well as ways to bust through your weight loss plateau.
Have you noticed that as you climb up the age ladder, your weight seems to follow suit?
If you think you are alone when it comes to weight gain and age, you aren’t the only person feeling frustrated.
Find out why it truly is difficult to lose weight and easy to more of it as you age, with a little expertise from one of our Registered Dietitians.
The Hyperactivity of Hormones
When we age, hormones levels will change and you may feel that your weight is now out of your control (as is the case with most menopausal women).
When this happens, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain a normal weight.
“As we age, our biochemistry changes. Hormones directly affect your biochemistry and are essentially chemical messengers that control your appetite and satiety, or feeling of fullness," says Carrie Wissemeier, a Registered Dietitian and one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. "More importantly, your hormones also tell your body what to do with the food you take in; whether it gets stored as excess fat, or burned for energy."
This is why most women experiencing menopause notice more weight gain in their abdominal area. The fluctuation in hormones causes a change in how your body utilizes calories, making it very easy to put on extra pounds.
“The wrong type of diet can make it easy to gain weight during menopause,” says Carrie. “Muscle mass can also decline with age. This change in body composition, along with the hormonal changes during menopause, makes it easier to gain weight.”
Genetics and Family Ties
Hormones and menopause make weight loss difficult, but so can genetics and family history.
“If your parents or close members of your immediate family are overweight, there is a genetic possibility that you could be too one day,” says Carrie. “These genetic factors, however, can be prevented with the right kind of lifestyle.”
Also, as you age, lean body mass often decreases, which will slow down your metabolic rate. If you keep your calorie intake exactly the same as you age, these calories are more likely to get stored as excess body fat.
This is why it is so important to readjust your caloric intake as you age. This adjustment, along with the proper combinations of nutrients, will help your body better use calories for energy, rather than store them as fat.
Lifestyle will trump genes when you partake in positive healthy practices. The right diet and regular exercise can combat these genes that predispose you for obesity.
Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle
Lifestyle behaviors can have a significant impact on your weight as you age.
“As we get older, we tend to become less physically active and eat more calories, while our metabolism starts to slow down,” says Carrie.
A more sedentary lifestyle combined with the wrong diet can spell trouble for your waistline. Even if you are eating a healthy diet, it’s just as important to be physically active.
If you aren’t used to a lot of physical activity, a good place to start is with some basic cardio. Being active helps improve bone density and helps preserve your muscles, which also maintains your metabolism.
Start out by doing some light walking, jogging or running, about 3-5 times during the week for about 30 minutes. Gradually increase your intensity over time.
It's always best to consult with your physician first before committing to any type of physical routine.