Many people struggle to maintain a healthy weight as they get older. A massive 62% of adults in the UK are now classified as being overweight. This in a time when we have an abundance of information available to us on how to live healthily. By now most of us know what the implications can be for our long-term health if we are overweight – Heart disease and Diabetes are just some of the complications that can arise.
The infographic below shares some insight into the impact socially and economically.
In this article I will discuss some of the reasons why people gain weight as they get older and what action you can take to help.
As we get older our metabolism slows down. There are various reasons for this; change in hormones, a more sedentary lifestyle, and an increase in stress and decrease in sleep due to added responsibilities are just a few. One of the main reasons is that we naturally lose muscle as we get older, and this in turn can lower your metabolic rate. Combining this with the aforementioned factors is a recipe for weight gain. However, this is not the only factors.
A recent study conducted at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has uncovered that Lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreases as we age, making it easier to gain weight, even if we don’t eat anymore or exercise any less than we have done previously. The scientists took a group of 54 men and women and studied them over an average period of 13 years.
The results showed that their lipid turnover had decreased regardless of whether they had any change in their weight. Lipid turnover is the rate at which your body removes or stores fat in the body. Those subjects who didn’t alter their calorie intake actually gained weight by an average of 20%. To quote Professor Peter Arner at the Department of Medicine in the Karolinska Institutet, “The results indicate for the first time that processes in our fat tissue regulate changes in body weight during ageing in a way that is independent of other factors”.
So, what can you do about it? We can’t unfortunately stop the aging process so we must find ways to make adjustments to counteract the effects of getting older.
Unsurprisingly exercise is fundamental as well as adjusting your daily nutrition intake. Having an awareness of your calorie expenditure is a great place to start, as you can make adjustments from here. I myself use an activity tracker but if you don’t have one you can use an online calculator, such as the one in the following link – https://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html.
There are of course other factors that can influence how you gain weight as you get older but the main strategy for counteracting these in my opinion is by increasing your physical activity and having a controlled whole foods diet in relation to your energy expenditure. When it comes to the type of training you should be doing I would always advocate some form of resistance training to prevent muscle loss and to boost metabolism, but the main thing here is to ensure it is enjoyable so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
If you are looking to lose weight then aim for a calorie deficit of around 500kcals. The other factors you can also consider are your stress levels and sleeping patterns. Avoiding stress and getting enough sleep can really help you to get to a healthy weight. The reason for this is that stress in the body releases hormones that can increase your appetite for fatty and sugary foods, and also can demotivate you from doing physical activity.
Most of all, stay positive and make healthy living part of who you are.