- Why people gain weight as they get older
- The biggest reason you gain weight as you age has nothing to do with your metabolism
- The best way to avoid gaining weight as you age has little to do with your metabolism, according to science
- ‘Boosting your metabolism’ is a myth
- Instead, move more
- 40 Tips For Women Who Want to Lose Weight After 40
- Start Weight Training
- Keep a Journal
- Take a Daily Walk
- Up Your Omega-3s
- Turn Up the Fiber
- Skip the Sweeteners
- Add in a Leg Day
- Take a Swim
- Stick to a Schedule
- Sip Some Green Tea
- Close the Kitchen
- Boost Your Calcium Intake
- Opt For Organic Foods
- Make Whole Grains a Priority
- Drink More Water
- Snack on Some Almonds
- Pile on the Protein
- Opt For Red Wine
- Cut the Cocktails
- Add Some Flax to Your Meals
- Increase the Intensity of Your Workouts
- Snack on Some Citrus
- Get Eight Hours a Night
- Calculate Your Metabolic Rate
- Switch Up Your Fragrance
- Buddy Up
- Keep Your Hands Busy
- Skip the Salty Snacks
- Turn Off the TV
- Get Some Sun
- Add Yoga to Your Routine
- Get a Thyroid Check
- Manage Your Mental Health
- Don’t Eat Like a Kid
- Cool Off
- Get Some Digital Support
- Indulge Those Carb Cravings
- Feed Your Gut
- Spice Up Your Sex Life
- Adjust Your Expectations
- Look at how much weight you’re going to gain
- Is it normal to get fatter with age? Or is that just an excuse?
- Weight Gain: 5 Hidden Reasons You’re Putting On Pounds
- Boosting your metabolism with special foods doesn’t work
- A challenging new fitness class may not help, either
Why people gain weight as they get older
The scientists studied the fat cells in 54 men and women over an average period of 13 years. In that time, all subjects, regardless of whether they gained or lost weight, showed decreases in lipid turnover in the fat tissue, that is the rate at which lipid (or fat) in the fat cells is removed and stored. Those who didn’t compensate for that by eating less calories gained weight by an average of 20 percent, according to the study which was done in collaboration with researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden and University of Lyon in France.
The researchers also examined lipid turnover in 41 women who underwent bariatric surgery and how the lipid turnover rate affected their ability to keep the weight off four to seven years after surgery. The result showed that only those who had a low rate before the surgery managed to increase their lipid turnover and maintain their weight loss. The researchers believe these people may have had more room to increase their lipid turnover than those who already had a high-level pre-surgery.
“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,” says Peter Arner, professor at the Department of Medicine in Huddinge at Karolinska Institutet and one of the study’s main authors. “This could open up new ways to treat obesity.”
Prior studies have shown that one way to speed up the lipid turnover in the fat tissue is to exercise more. This new research supports that notion and further indicates that the long-term result of weight-loss surgery would improve if combined with increased physical activity.
“Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become a global problem,” says Kirsty Spalding, senior researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet and another of the study’s main authors. “Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant.”
The study was financed by grants from the Stockholm County Council, the Swedish Research Council, the Strategic Research Program for Diabetes at Karolinska Institutet, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Swedish Diabetes Foundation, Karolinska Institutet-Astra Zeneca Integrated Cardiometabolic Center, the Vallee Foundation, the Swedish Society of Medicine, the Erling-Persson Family foundation and IXXI.
The biggest reason you gain weight as you age has nothing to do with your metabolism
You’ve probably heard that once you hit 40, it’s all downhill when it comes to your weight.
That inexplicable force we call our metabolism does begin to grind a bit slower every year from age 30 onward.
Here’s the good news: The rate at which your metabolism slows down is actually rather minimal. In reality, most weight gain that happens in midlife isn’t the result of a slower metabolism at all.
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Instead, it comes down to a simple but changeable truth: As we get older, we get less and less active.
While this might sound depressing, it’s actually great news. There’s plenty we can do to counteract the slow, seemingly inevitable onset of poundage. But first, here are some basics about what metabolism is — and what it isn’t.
How your body burns energy
Our resting metabolic rate is a measure of how much energy we expend — or “burn” — when we’re at rest. It’s determined by a combination of factors, including your height, sex, and the genes you got from your parents, and it can’t be altered much, no matter what you do.
Beyond that, our bodies appear to enter into three more distinct phases of calorie burning, depending on what we’re doing. These three are the types of metabolism that most people are referring to when they say doing certain things, like eating spicy food or working out, can “boost” your metabolism.
Most of the things that people say will boost your metabolism won’t
Eating sheds a small amount of calories /Foxys Forest Manufacture
When we’re eating, we burn a small number of calories (roughly 10% of our total calories burned for the day). This is called the thermic effect of food, and it’s the first of those three phases I mentioned earlier. We can turn up the heat on this process a tiny bit (but not by a whole lot) by doing things like drinking stimulant beverages like coffee and eating large amounts of protein.
“Eating foods like green tea, caffeine, or hot chili peppers will not help you shed excess pounds,” notes an entry in the ADAM Medical Encyclopedia, hosted by the National Institutes of Health. “Some may provide a small boost in your metabolism, but not enough to make a difference in your weight.”
Instead, get active
The best way to burn calories is to exercise /pikselstock
Unsurprisingly, the most important calorie-burning activity we engage in is just that — activity.
Whether we’re taking the stairs, stepping away from our desks for a coffee, or sweating it out in a hot yoga class, we’re expending energy. Researchers call this second phase physical-activity expenditure.
After a strenuous workout, we continue to burn more calories than we would while at rest — and that’s the third phase, or what’s called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
When it comes to counteracting weight gain, these two phases — the ones related to physical activity — are the most important. Your best bet for burning more calories throughout the day is to increase your levels of any kind of activity, be it running or walking.
Many people think strength training or weight lifting fits into this category, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
Weight lifting can only do so much for your metabolism. Why? Because muscles don’t burn a whole lot of calories, as the NIH points out. As far as calorie-melting organs go, your brain is actually far more efficient than your bicep.
“Brain function makes up close to 20% of” resting metabolic rate, Dr. Claude Bouchard, a professor of genetics and nutrition at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University, told The Los Angeles Times.
“Next is the heart, which is beating all the time and accounts for another 15-20%. The liver, which also functions at rest, contributes another 15-20%. Then you have the kidneys and lungs and other tissues, so what remains is muscle, contributing only 20-25% of total resting metabolism,” Bouchard said.
So while strength training is a healthy habit that will certainly have a helpful effect on things like agility and balance, it won’t change your metabolism a great deal.
“This idea that one pound of muscle burns hundreds of extra calories per day is a myth,” Gary Foster, Weight Watchers’ chief scientific officer and an adjunct professor of psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, told Business Insider.
And be mindful about eating
According to the NIH, in addition to getting less active as we get older, we also appear to become less perceptive about our body’s nutritional needs over time.
Our natural appetite-control mechanism seems to dull. A good way to be more mindful of how full you’re getting is to eat smaller meals and get more only when you’re still hungry, rather than sitting down with a large plate of food, which might encourage you to overeat.
“By staying active and sticking with smaller portions of healthy foods, you can ward off weight gain as you age,” the NIH website says.
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The best way to avoid gaining weight as you age has little to do with your metabolism, according to science
- Putting on a bit of weight as you get older is fairly normal, but there are simple ways to avoid it.
- Contrary to popular belief, none involves trying to “boost” your metabolism, which doesn’t really budge.
- Here’s what to do instead.
Like a favorite car that’s starting to show its age, many of us begin to put on weight as we get older.
“She’s not what she used to be!” I heard a friend say the other day as he lovingly slapped his belly in the way one gives the hood of their old clunker an affectionate tap.
Many people blame a sluggish metabolism for the weight gain. But as it turns out, our metabolism isn’t the real culprit when it comes to the pounds that seem to creep on with each passing decade.
In fact, age-related weight gain has far more to do with our activity patterns than it does with our metabolism, which barely budges after age 30, according to the National Institutes of Health.
‘Boosting your metabolism’ is a myth
Flickr/IRRI Photos Our metabolism, the term for the calorie-burning process our bodies do naturally, shifts based on the various activities we do throughout the day.
Unfortunately, the rate at which we digest our meals and burn energy can’t be altered significantly enough to cause weight loss. (No, spicy foods and green teas won’t move the needle.)
But as we age, we also get less active while sticking to roughly the same diet. Researchers say that this — not our metabolic rate — is the real culprit for the pounds we pack on as we get older.
Instead, move more
To avoid weight gain, adding regular movement to your day is crucial. That could involve taking the stairs at work or hitting the gym a few times a week — every little bit counts.
In fact, new research published this spring suggests that to achieve better health and reduce your risk of death from any cause, any kind of movement is better than little or none. That means any effort that gets you moving and breathing — whether it’s a twice-weekly heart-pounding kickboxing class or a 30-minute walk to work — has measurable benefits for your brain and body.
That study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, used data on physical activity and death rates from national surveys of more than 4,800 adults. It found that people with more “bouted” or concentrated activity (like a fitness class or gym session) fared no better than people who clocked the same amount of exercise in tiny bits throughout the day (like walking to the train or taking the dog for a stroll).
“The key message based on the results presented is that total physical activity (i.e., of any bout duration) provides important health benefits,” the study’s authors wrote.
6 Key Factors that Predict Weight Gain
Troy Purdom, M.S and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
Two-thirds of the U.S population is currently overweight or obese (Ogden et al. 2014), a health condition associated with several comorbidities, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and breast, endometrial, colon, and prostate cancers (Malik, Shulze and Hu, 2006). Further, research shows that Americans at the age of 50 tend to gain weight slowly over time, approximately one lb per yr (Mozaffarian et al. 2011). Most weight management articles focus on strategies and behaviors to lose weight. In this article, we examine the predictors of weight gain over the lifespan in hopes to better understand, prevent and manage obesity.
What Dietary Food Choices Influence Weight Gain?
Mozaffarian et al. (2011) identified that the regular dietary consumption of potato chips, potatoes (french fries, mashed, baked, and boiled potatoes), red meat, processed meats (bacon, salami, sausage and luncheon meats), unprocessed red meats (beef, hamburger, pork, lamb or game), butter, sweets and desserts to be associated with progressive weight gain over several different four-year period of times they studied. Gradual, yearly weight gain is also observed with the regular intake of refined grains, foods such as white flower and white rice. Intakes of foods such as nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, diet (zero-calorie) soda, cheese and milk (low-fat, skim and whole) appeared to curve weight gain. Mozaffarian et al. explain that these foods have slower digestion rates (some being high in fiber), and appear to enhance satiety (the feeling of being full after a meal). Their consumption can replace other, more highly processed foods in the diet, providing a reasonable biological mechanism whereby persons who eat more fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains may gain less weight over time (Mozaffarian et al).
To What Effect Do Sweetened Beverages Influence Weight Gain?
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), which have little nutritional benefit, are reported to provide the largest amount of kilocalories in the American diet (Dennis et al. 2009). In 2008 SSB accounted for 8-9% of total energy intake in both children and adults (Malik et al. 2008). SSB contain carbohydrates of various forms, such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and artificial sweeteners amongst others ingredients. The intake of SSB has little impact on satisfying hunger (Malik, Shulze and Hu, 2006). Thus, large amounts of calories in SSB can be ingested without suppressing appetite (Mattes 2006). Uniquely, the body responds to liquid carbohydrate vs. solid carbohydrate (of equal caloric value) differently. DiMeglio and Mattes 2000 found that when drinking SSB, people gained significantly more weight in comparison to consuming a comparable amount of carbohydrate in solid form. Subjects participated in both treatments for four weeks each, and the SSB treatment gained double the amount of fat mass compared to consuming carbohydrate in solid form. Both carbohydrate sources were the caloric equivalent to three 12-ounce sodas per day for both treatments (DiMeglio and Mattes).
What Influence Does Sleep Deprivation have on Weight Gain?
Although more clinical trials are needed, a number of epidemiological studies suggests that weight gain is influenced by sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours on a nightly basis (Marshall, Glozier, Grunstein 2008). According to Marshal et al. people who sleep less develop chronically impaired glucose metabolism, steadily contributing to obesity. In addition, sleep deprivation significantly LOWERS circulating hormone levels of leptin (promoting food intake) and INCREASES circulating hormone ghrelin (promoting food intake) (Van Cauter et al. 2008). The altered regulation of these hormones contributes to increased hunger and appetite, especially for carbohydrate-rich foods weight gain (Van Cauter et al.). Ideally, obtaining 7-8 hrs of sleep each night is a complement to a successful weight management program.
What Influence Does Watching Television Have on Weight Gain?
The length of time spent watching television is highly correlated with weight gain, especially in the youth (Chapman et al. 2012). Chapman et al. recap that 58.9% of Americans watch television for >2 hours/day. The authors summarize epidemiologic studies which reveal those who regularly watch more daily television tend to snack more while watching, have higher caloric intake of foods, and choose to consume more energy-dense foods, all leading to weight gain. Other evidence indicates that visual images of palatable food (as regularly seen in food commercials) evoke increases in plasma ghrelin concentrations, thus increasing the hunger/eating response (Chapman et al.). Conversely, children watching <1 hour of TV a day are associated with reduced body weights, BMIs, skin-fold thicknesses, and fat mass. And, these children are less likely to be overweight, emphasizing the important role of lifestyle plays with weight gain (Chapman et al.)
What is The Effect of Alcohol on Weight Gain?
Alcohol is very energy dense and therefore affects energy balance in a variety of ways. The energy density of alcohol is 7 kilocalories/g, second only to fat (9 kilocalories/g). Aside from the pharmacological effects on the brain and hormone fluctuation, the additional kilocalories from alcohol do not seem to replace energy consumption from other sources (Yeomans 2010). Therefore, energy consumption from alcohol is additive to the overall daily calorie intake. Yeomans adds that alcohol consumed before or with meals tends to also increase food intake, probably through enhancing the short-term rewarding effects of food. Uniquely, Yeomans cites epidemiological data suggesting that alcohol in moderation can protect against obesity, specifically in women. This means that alcohol is somewhat dose dependent, and should be monitored closely, especially while consuming food.
What is the Effect of inactivity on Weight Gain?
Exercise has long been shown to have positive effects on both health and weight loss. In studying 15-year trends, an inverse relationship was found between walking and weight gain (Gorden-Larsen et al. 2009); suggesting that the more a person walks the less likely she/he is to gain weight. The researchers point out that older Amish persons who walk an average of 18,000 (men) and 14,000 (women) steps a day have very little prevalence of obesity. Gorden-Larsen et al.. suggest that adding 2-4 hours of walking per week are attainable targets to achieve for movement.
Despite the documented benefits of exercise, only half of Americans participate in the recommended volume of (150min/wk) of moderate aerobic activity during the week while 27% of the population participate in muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days per week. (CDC, 2011). Furthermore, 20.6% of U.S. adults (23.4% men and 17.9% women) meet both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines. This means that the majority of Americans trying to lose or maintain weight will have a positive weight balance due to not meeting the minimum physical activity guidelines.
Weight Gain Buster Solutions
The propensity toward sustained television watching, sleep deprivation, disproportionate alcohol consumption, excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, food consumption of high-caloric density foods, and physical inactivity are clearly indicators of an ‘obesogenic lifestyle,’ and should be the targets of any behavior change plan for the prevention of weight gain. It should be noted that a person’s psychological stress that accompanies any of the above behaviors may indeed exacerbate weight gain, and thus must also be address with the intervention (Montes and Kravitz, 2011). Personal trainers may be best advised to expand their reach training efforts to address all of these areas with clients in order to ensure successful weight management goals.
Troy Purdom M.S. is an Exercise Science doctoral student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. His scholastic interests include sport performance enhancement and nutrient timing. Troy spends his time racing in the regional cycling events and playing recreational sports.
Len Kravitz, PhD, is the program coordinator of exercise science and a researcher at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, where he won the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. He has received the prestigious Can-Fit-Pro Lifetime Achievement Award and American Council on Exercise Fitness Educator of the Year.
Chapman, C.D., Benedict, C. Brooks, S.J., and Schioth, H.B. (2012) Lifestyle determinants of the drive to eat: a meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 96(3), 492-497.
DiMeglio, D.P. and Mattes, R.D. (2000). Liquid versus solid carbohydrate: effects on food intake and body weight. International Journal of Obesity, 24, 794-800.
Gordon-Larsen, P. Hou, N. Sidney, et al. (2009). Fifteen-year longitudinal trends in walking patterns and their impact on weight change. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 89, 19-26.
CDC. (2011) Adult participation in aerobic and muscle-strenghthening physical activities-United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. 62(17). 326-330.
Malik, V.S., Schulze, M.B. and Hu, F.B. (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review1-3 . American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 84, 274-288.
Mattes, R. (2006). Fluid calories and energy balance. The good, the bad, and the uncertain. Physiology & Behavior, 89, 66-70.
Montes, M.V. & Kravitz, L. (2011). Unraveling the stress-eating-obesity knot. IDEA Fitness Journal, 8(2), 45-50.
Marshall, N.S., Glozier, N. and Grunstein, RR. (2008) Is sleep duration related to obesity? A critical review of the epidemiological evidence. Sleep Medicine Review. 12(4), 289-298.
Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E.B., et al. (2011). Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. New England Journal of Medicine. 364(25), 2392-2404.
Ogden, C.L. Carroll, M.D. Kit, B.K. And Flegal, K.M. (2014) Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association. 311(8), 806-814.
Van Cauter, E., Spiegael, K., Tasali, E., and Leproult, R. (2008) Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Medicine, 9 Suppl 1, S23-s28.
Yeomans, M. R. (2010) Alcohol, appetite and energy balance: is alcohol intake a risk factor for obesity? Physiology & Behavior, 100, 82-89.
Obese people could shorten their lives if they slim down to a healthy weight in middle and old age, a new study suggests.
People who are dangerously overweight – with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30 – are encouraged by the NHS to discuss losing weight with their doctor, to avoid conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
But new research by Chinese scientists who looked at the health records of more than 36,000 people in the US found those who were obese after 47, but went on to lose their excess weight, were more likely to die than those who stayed heavy.
An obese to non-obese weight change was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortaility of 30 per cent. Yet moving from a healthy weight to obese in middle age and later life was not associated with premature death.
The biggest risk came for people who had been obese throughout their adulthood, with their rate of an early death increased by 72 per cent. It suggests that it is not just gaining weight that matters, but also the stage of life.
Researchers say the study shows that the link between weight gain lessons with increasing age, and the danger of weight loss becomes more pronounced as people grow older.
Writing in the BMJ, the authors from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China said: “Stable obesity across adulthood, weight gain from young to middle adulthood, and weight loss from middle to late adulthood were associated with increased risks of mortality.
“The findings imply that maintaining normal weight across adulthood, especially preventing weight gain in early adulthood, is important for preventing premature deaths in later life.”
40 Tips For Women Who Want to Lose Weight After 40
When we’re in our teens and twenties, losing weight is often as simple as turning down that extra scoop of ice cream or adding some occasional exercise to our routines. However, as our age increases, our metabolic rate has a tendency to plummet, turning what used to be an effective diet and exercise plan into a recipe for serious weight gain.
For women, in particular, hormonal changes after age 40, including menopause, can make it harder to lose weight and keep it off. However, just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to buying a bigger wardrobe every year. Weight loss after 40—and weight loss for women over 40, especially—is possible. Better yet, it doesn’t have to be a struggle.
So when it comes to losing weight at 40, follow our tips to get the body you’ve always wanted, no matter what your age, and reading up on the best supplements for people over 40 can even expedite the process.
Start Weight Training
A little muscle goes a long way when it comes to your weight and health. Women generally have less natural muscle mass than their male counterparts, and aging can spur the depletion of what little muscle tissue you have, sometimes by as much as 5 percent in a 10-year period after age 30. Fortunately, building some muscle with a light weight-training routine can kill two birds with one stone: you’ll burn some calories doing the exercises, and research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology reveals that, even though weight loss is often associated with a slower metabolism, women who added resistance training to their routine actually maintained their resting metabolic rate.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is great for preserving more than just memories; it’s an amazing tool for maintaining your weight loss, too. As we get older, our memories tend to become a bit less sharp than they were in our younger years, making it easy to forget those little bites of dessert we took, and making it even easier for them to show up as unwanted pounds on the scale. Fortunately, a study from Kaiser Permanente’s Center For Health Research reveals that individuals who consistently tracked their eating habits enjoyed a nearly 50 percent greater weight loss than those who skipped the journaling.
Take a Daily Walk
Adding a daily walk to your routine means you’ve taken the first step toward achieving a healthier weight. Middle-aged and senior women have an increased risk of hip fracture, but staying active can help you burn more calories and lower your chances of suffering an injury. Research suggests that regular exercise can reduce a person’s risk of osteoporosis, and shaving off those extra pounds means you’re putting less strain on your joints, making it easier to prevent a fall that can keep you sidelined.
Up Your Omega-3s
Want to see those numbers on the scale get smaller? Try adding some fish to your meal plan. Research published in Obesity Reviews reveals that adding some omega-3s to subjects’ diet helped them lose more weight, keep it off longer, and limit those nagging hunger pangs. For women over 40, omega-3-rich fish, like salmon and tuna, are a particularly good choice; a study published in the journal Menopause suggests that adding them to your diet may reduce your risk of hot flashes, too.
Turn Up the Fiber
Hormonal changes in middle age can wreak havoc on our weight and our waistlines, but boosting the amount of fiber in your diet can help. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that increasing fiber intake helped participants shave off 4.6 pounds over an 8-week period and maintain that weight loss over the course of a year. Even better, dialing up the fiber in your meals can help combat the bloated belly and sluggish digestion that often accompany hormonal changes, like menopause. Don’t know where to find the fiber you seek? Start with the best high-fiber foods!
Skip the Sweeteners
Kick off your weight loss today by skipping the artificial sweeteners. Researchers at Yale University have found a link between artificial sweetener consumption and an increased risk of obesity and excess belly fat, but nixing them from your diet could help you get rid of those unwanted pounds. Skipping the sweeteners may have another benefit for women of a certain age, too: many women find that artificial sweeteners can trigger hot flashes, so cutting them from your diet can help you keep your cool.
Add in a Leg Day
Adding a leg day to your workouts can help you tone up your lower half and make it easier to shave off unwanted weight. Not only will increasing your muscle tone help you burn more calories, research conducted at Chungnam National University suggests that individuals with more muscle tone in their lower bodies have a lower risk of falls and fractures that may keep them from getting adequate exercise for months, if not years. A study published in Gerontology also suggests that strong legs are a good indicator of the strength of another important muscle: your brain.
Take a Swim
Hitting the pool is a great way to get your body into the best shape of your life, no matter what your age. A 155-pound woman can expect to burn nearly 500 calories an hour swimming at a relatively leisurely pace, adding another 200 calories to that number by doing some faster laps. For women over 40, low-impact exercises, like swimming, are particularly beneficial, thanks to the limited wear-and-tear they cause on joints, making it less likely an overuse injury will keep you benched.
Stick to a Schedule
Keeping a regular eating schedule could be the key to ditching those extra pounds after 40. Researchers at Hebrew University found that feeding mice high-fat foods on a regular schedule kept them leaner than when they were fed the same foods on a sporadic basis. Sticking to a consistent eating schedule can also help you fend off the hunger pangs that can prompt cravings for high-fat or sugary foods, which often get worse around menopause.
Sip Some Green Tea
A little green tea in your cup could yield a lot of weight loss. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition reveals that adding green tea to subjects’ meal plans increased their fat-burning ability by a whopping 12 percent over the course of 12 months. Even better, green tea’s combination of antioxidants and caffeine can give you the boost you need to fend off those energy lulls that often accompany middle age.
Close the Kitchen
Closing up the kitchen for the night makes it easier to shed those unwanted pounds, no matter what your age. Research published in Cell Metabolism reveals that mice who spent 16 hours a day fasting and the other eight hours eating high-fat food remained relatively lean, while those who ate the same number of calories and the same amount of fat over the course of the day significantly increased their risk of obesity.
Boost Your Calcium Intake
Want to maximize your fat-burning potential after 40? Start by making sure you’re getting plenty of calcium in your diet. The results of a study conducted at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville reveal that obese women who consumed more calcium (via three servings of yogurt) lost 11 pounds of body fat in over a 12-month period. Even better, increasing your calcium intake can help increase the strength of your bones, reducing your risk of a fall or fracture.
Opt For Organic Foods
Eager to shave off a few pounds after your 40th birthday? Start by opting for organic produce instead of the conventionally-grown stuff. A review in Interdisciplinary Toxicology summarized that organochlorine pesticides can alter the levels of thyroid hormone in the human bloodstream, potentially increasing weight gain and causing thyroid health issues. Considering that older women are already at an increased risk for thyroid problems, like hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it’s a good idea to go organic ASAP.
Make Whole Grains a Priority
There’s no time like the present to ditch those refined carbs and opt for whole grains instead. Whole grains are higher in fiber than their refined counterparts, which will not only help you stay full for longer, but can also be an effective means of battling the belly-bloating effects of menopause.
Drink More Water
What you drink is just as important as what you’re eating when it comes to weight loss. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics reveals that well-hydrated people ate up to 206 fewer calories each day than those who skimped on the H2O. And by “well-hydrated,” we mean increasing water intake by just 3 cups a day! For middle-aged women, staying hydrated can have particularly profound effects; drinking ice water is a recommended solution for battling the hot flashes that often accompany menopause. For more ways to hydrate and shed those unwanted pounds, add the best teas for weight loss to your lineup.
Snack on Some Almonds
Trading in your usual snack for some almonds can help you shed weight and improve your health. Loaded with fiber and protein, almonds can help keep you feeling full for longer, and may even help you slash the stress that can lead to weight gain. Research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine also reveals that adding magnesium-rich foods, like almonds, to your diet can help reduce anxiety, lowering cortisol levels and decreasing your body’s tendency to store belly fat.
Pile on the Protein
Want to slim down over 40? Try increasing your protein intake. Research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that low-protein diets prompted greater lean muscle loss in postmenopausal women, potentially slowing their metabolisms along the way. If you’re not a big fan of meat, try adding some extra beans, nuts, or whole grains, like quinoa, to your menu.
Opt For Red Wine
If you drink, try opting for red wine instead of white and you might just find yourself a few pounds —and inches— smaller in no time. Red wine is a good source of resveratrol, which has been deemed effective at reducing belly fat and improving memory retention in the aging brain. Even better, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine reveals that resveratrol supplementation was effective at improving hormonal issues in overweight postmenopausal women, potentially bolstering your weight loss efforts.
Cut the Cocktails
Say so long to those sugary happy hour drinks. A single flavored martini or blended drink can pack upwards of 600 calories per 8-ounce pour, and many menopausal women find that the blood vessel dilation that occurs with alcohol consumption can make hot flashes worse. If you do choose to drink, make sure you check out the tips for choosing healthy alcoholic drinks first.
Add Some Flax to Your Meals
Boost your fiber intake and slim down by mixing some flaxseed into your favorite food. Flax is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation and promote weight loss, and they may even help you fend off another sign of aging, too: the dreaded wrinkle. Flaxseed is loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, which researchers at Winnipeg St. Boniface General Hospital and Cuba’s VI Lenin University Hospital have linked to improvements in weight and cardiovascular status among study subjects. The omega-3s in flax have also been shown to trigger improvements in the texture and hydration of skin, fighting wrinkles in the process.
Increase the Intensity of Your Workouts
Losing weight as you age isn’t always about how much time you’re spending at the gym, but what you’re doing while you’re there. If you’re frustrated with your rate of weight loss, try adding some high-intensity interval training to your routine; a review of research published in the Journal of Obesity reveals that it’s a more effective means of improving overall fitness, increasing lean muscle, and improving insulin sensitivity than traditional aerobic exercise.
Snack on Some Citrus
Easier weight loss over 40 could be as easy as peeling an orange. The results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry & Nutrition reveal that citrus polyphenols can help undo some of the damage caused by a high-fat diet, helping you ditch those extra pounds in no time. Better yet, research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science reveals that the vitamin C found in citrus fruit can help boost your collagen production, helping you fight wrinkles, too.
Get Eight Hours a Night
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and also a surprisingly effective means of slimming down. The results of the Nurses’ Health Study reveal that, among a group of 60,000 women studied for 16 years, those who got 5 hours of sleep or less at night increased their risk of becoming obese by 15 percent. Getting adequate rest can also reduce your risk of dementia, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Luckily, you’ll be heading off to the Land of Nod in no time once you learn the ways to improve your sleep quality!
Calculate Your Metabolic Rate
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, the best way to figure out how much you should be eating or scaling back is to calculate your metabolic rate. Fortunately, using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, it’s easy to figure out how many calories you’re actually burning, and even better, it’s adjustable for your age, so, unlike cookie-cutter diet plans, you can use it year after year and continue enjoying results.
Switch Up Your Fragrance
It’s time to sniff your way slim. Switching up your fragrance can do more than make you smell delicious, it can also help you shed those extra pounds as you age. The results of a study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgery reveal that sniffing scents like apple and mint increased weight loss among study subjects, so seek out fragranced products, like tea tree shampoo or apple-inflected perfume, for maximum effect.
Hitting the gym with a pal will not only keep you accountable, it may help you lose weight faster, too. Researchers at the Society of Behavioral Medicine have found that bringing a buddy along when you hit the gym boosts calorie burn and can help you increase the duration of your workouts.
Keep Your Hands Busy
They say that idle hands are the devil’s playthings, and that’s certainly true when it comes to weight loss. Keeping your hands busy with activities like knitting, origami, or even those dreaded fidget spinners, can help you from reaching for the closest fatty or sugary snack. Research also suggests that using your hands to fidget throughout the day can burn upwards of 800 calories, making it easier to slim down in an expeditious manner.
Skip the Salty Snacks
Skipping those salty snacks will put you on track for more weight loss in a hurry, no matter what your age. Research conducted at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine reveals that, contrary to popular belief, salt tends to make people hungry, not thirsty. Two groups on simulated missions to Mars were examined over the course of 105 and 205 days, respectively, with one group receiving saltier foods during the final weeks of their mock voyage. Researchers discovered that those given saltier foods actually drank less water than those on a low-salt diet, but complained of hunger more often. However, as expected, the saltier food did increase study participants’ water retention, meaning it can exacerbate the water retention and bloating issues associated with menopause, too. Salt isn’t the only habit making you heavy; the worst breakfast habits for weight loss could have you packing on the pounds with every passing year.
Turn Off the TV
Sure, we’re in the golden age of television, but one of the easiest ways to increase your over-40 weight loss is by turning off the TV (as much as it may break your heart to miss the latest GoT). A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that people who snacked while watching TV ate 10 percent more per sitting than those who focused on their food. Even more depressing, research published in the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that seeing beauty advertisements can trigger feelings of inadequacy in women, which can often lead to emotional eating.
Get Some Sun
While sun-worshipping can have you looking more leather bag than human, a little-controlled exposure to UV rays can yield some serious benefits for your weight. According to research conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, overweight women between 50 and 75 who had adequate vitamin D levels shed more weight and more body fat than those whose levels remained low. A study in Psychopharmacology also reveals that subjects with depression who popped a vitamin D supplement experienced improvements in their mood in just five days, so don’t be afraid to let the sunshine in.
Add Yoga to Your Routine
Tired of your usual workout? Try adding some yoga to your lineup and you might just find those pounds melting off easier than you ever thought possible. A 160-pound woman can expect to burn approximately 477 calories per hour of hot yoga; if you’re up for power yoga, that number jumps to 594. Fortunately, yoga is also low-impact and great for improving muscle tone, reducing stress on your joints and providing support for your bones that may reduce your risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.
Get a Thyroid Check
If you’re having trouble losing weight after your 40th, it’s time to ask your doctor about a thyroid screening. Women are more likely to develop thyroid health issues than their male counterparts, which can lead to symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, and depression. Fortunately, for many people, the problem can be fixed with medication and dietary modification, getting you back on track to the body you want in no time.
Manage Your Mental Health
Not everyone relishes the idea of getting older, but if you’re experiencing serious blues you just can’t shake, you could be putting yourself at risk for pounds you can’t shake, either. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals a link between depression and severe obesity, particularly among women, but found that weight loss improved mental health outcomes, potentially breaking you out of this vicious cycle for good. Start on the path toward a happier you today by kicking the foods that put you in a bad mood off your menu.
Don’t Eat Like a Kid
Spending time with your children or grandkids can be fun and may even lower your risk of dementia. However, all that time spent in the land of chicken nuggets and pizza might have you packing on the pounds before you know it. Many busy caregivers find themselves mindlessly eating the leftovers from their little ones, adding hundreds of calories to their daily total. Just because you’re 40 doesn’t mean you should feel old, but it also means you can’t eat like a kid anymore.
If hot flashes are causing you to heat up, lower your thermostat and you may lower your weight, too. Research suggests that sleeping in a 66-degree room can increase the amount of healthy, brown fat on your body, boosting your metabolism and helping you shave off those unwanted pounds.
Get Some Digital Support
Our obligations to our families, jobs, and community tend to increase along with our age, making it harder to find time to attend in-person weight loss groups. Luckily, research published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics suggests that online social support can encourage weight loss every bit as much as in-person meetings, making it easier to shed the pounds, even if factors like your schedule or mobility issues are making it hard to leave the house.
Indulge Those Carb Cravings
If you’re cutting carbs or limiting your whole grain intake to a single slice of toast in the morning, you could be doing yourself a disservice when it comes to weight loss. Research conducted on members of the Israeli police force found that eating carbs in the evening actually increased weight loss and body fat loss, and consuming whole grains throughout the day can help you fight the bloating and sluggish digestion that often become an issue around menopause. Make healthy carbs a staple in your home by adding the best overnight oats recipes to your routine.
Feed Your Gut
Getting your gut health in order is a good idea no matter what your age, but after 40, it’s essential. Improving your digestive regularity with prebiotic fiber-rich foods, like asparagus and leafy greens, may help reduce your risk of colon cancer, and can even help regulate the hormonal challenges that come along with menopause. Researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine have also found fiber effective at reducing estrogen concentrations in the bloodstream, helping you avoid the hot flashes and mood swings that can hit around mid-life.
Spice Up Your Sex Life
A little action between the sheets can mean a lot less weight on the scale. Not only is sex a great stress reliever, helping to lower the amount of belly fat-storage hormone cortisol in your bloodstream, but the results of a study published in Breast Cancer Research suggest that even moderate weight loss can help postmenopausal woman achieve a more favorable hormonal balance, making it easier to get in the mood. Fortunately, kicking the foods that kill your sex drive off your menu will have your libido soaring in no time.
Adjust Your Expectations
While weight loss after 40 is absolutely possible, keeping your expectations about how fast you’ll shed those pounds in check can help you stay on track in the long run. Managing your expectations about your weight loss can help keep you from getting discouraged if you’re not slimming down as fast as you had hoped, making it easier to stick to your plan and recover from those little hiccups that could otherwise send you face-first into the next brownie sundae you see.
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After losing nearly a third of his body weight over the past year and reversing his type 2 diabetes diagnosis thanks to a new diet and exercise, Tom Watson knows exactly what he used to picture in his head to motivate himself. “Death,” he says, without any hesitation. “I pictured death.”
Last week, by speaking out about his weight loss and its dramatic effect on his health and wellbeing, Labour’s deputy leader became an unlikely poster boy for a generation of new dieters: middle-aged men.
Only 22% of men aged 45-54 in England are considered a normal weight, compared with 42% of men aged 25-34 and 31% aged 35-44. A third of men in the 45-54 age group in England are now obese, while an additional 46% are overweight, according to the latest statistics from the Health Survey for England. Watson used to be one of them. At his heaviest, he weighed 22 stone (140kg), leading to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in late 2015. Reading the biographies of Labour politicians who had died in their 50s made him consider his own chances of longevity. “For me, dieting was entirely a rational decision,” he says. “I’m 51 and I want to live another 51 years.”
He had tried diets before and failed to lose weight, but this time, like other men of his generation, he decided to take a more scholarly approach. Before he started he spent 18 months reading about his condition: “I read and read, and began, over time, to really understand it – how it could be worsened, and how it could be made easier.”
For example, he read up on the pioppi diet and found the work of Dr Michael Mosley, bestselling author of The Fast Diet, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet and The Clever Gut Diet, particularly helpful. “I read everything Mosley had ever written, and then I read the research he wrote about – hundreds of papers and commentary. I knew the exercise I’d have to do would be humiliating and the food bit would be tough. It was important for me to understand why I needed to change.”
Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson in September 2016, before he set about changing his life. Photograph: Ben Cawthra/Rex
Watson’s appetite for scientific research about dieting is typical of men of his generation, according to Mosley. The UK dieting market is estimated to be worth £157m and grew by 6% in value last year. Mosley believes it is the wealth of science that has emerged, suggesting there are specific actions people can take to improve their health, that is driving middle-aged men in particular to start dieting.
He says: “Historically, men have been less interested in their health than they are now, and dieting has been seen very much as a vanity thing, a fad or quackery, aimed at helping you slip into a little black dress. What is new to some degree is studies showing the health benefits of particular types of diets, such as rapid weight loss and fasting diets.”
His books illuminating these studies have sold nearly two million copies worldwide. “It’s clear now that when you lose fat, particularly gut fat, that leads to a whole range of other improvements. We have our own fate in our hands. If you’re middle-aged today, you could live well into your 90s and you don’t want to be living those last 20 years in ill health. Nowadays men are proud of their diets and of what they have achieved.”
Tom Kerridge, 45, and his fellow celebrity chefs Si King, 50, and David Myers, 60, from The Hairy Bikers, were among the first to join this increasingly vocal group of proud and conspicuously slimmer middle-aged men. All three chefs have sold millions of diet cookbooks off the back of their own dramatic weight loss stories, with Kerridge’s 2018 book Lose Weight for Good selling a quarter of a million copies in just eight weeks when it was published last Christmas.
Over the past year even the original pin-up for lad culture, Men Behaving Badly star Martin Clunes, 56, has boasted he fasted to achieve his substantial weight loss not, as was rumoured at the time, suffered a virus.
“Men in particular have told me that they see fasting more like a sport than a traditional women’s diet,” says Mosley. “It’s seen as more than a diet – it’s seen as a challenge.”
Like Watson, Mosley was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his 50s. It was this diagnosis that led him to present a documentary about intermittent fasting, now known as the 5:2 diet, to test whether he could reverse his diabetes by eating normally for five days a week and cutting down calories to around 600 for two days a week.
“I genuinely wanted to know. I’d seen my dad develop type 2 diabetes and complications from that, struggle with it and die from it. I really didn’t want to go down the same road. I was interested and intrigued.”
Viewers hoping for before and after shots of him in his underwear were disappointed. “It wasn’t a vanity project. It was about my health before and afterwards. I was genuinely scared because type 2 diabetes is a terrible disease.”
Mosley’s experiment – which did successfully reverse his diabetes – was based on a study by Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University. “We demonstrated that type 2 diabetes wasn’t the incurable condition we had believed for decades,” says Taylor. “We showed you could take people who had type 2 diabetes and get them entirely back to normal.”
Chef Tom Kerridge lost a dramatic amount of weight and his diet cookbook was a best-seller. Photograph: Karen Robinson/The Observer
Not all patients who lose weight manage to reverse their type 2 diabetes – Taylor says about 46% of those who tried in his biggest study successfully put their diabetes into remission within one year – but of those that do, men are slightly more likely to succeed than women. “Even the 54% who didn’t reverse their condition ended up on far fewer tablets and had better control over their diabetes, in addition to enjoying the major benefit of weight loss,” says Taylor.
This research made a strong impression on Watson. He considered what reversing his diabetes would mean for his relationship with his children, who are aged 10 and 13. “First, I wanted to stay alive and look after them. But also, I wanted to enjoy them growing up – running up hills with them, climbing things, chasing them in the park, being silly. I found that physically quite taxing. I felt I was losing out.”
Studies suggest a significant number of middle-aged fathers in the UK may be having similar thoughts. A report by the Men’s Health Forum last year found that one in 10 men in Britain have been diagnosed with diabetes. Obesity rates among British males are the highest in western Europe, according to research by the European Society of Cardiology. In 2017 it ranked British men as the most obese across 47 countries, including the 28 in the EU.
Weight gain carries significant health risks for men, not least because they develop type 2 diabetes at a lower body mass index (BMI) than women: 29 as opposed to 31. Taylor explains: “Women tend to keep their fat in places that are metabolically safe, such as the hips and thighs. A man’s excess fat tends to go inside the tummy, what’s often called a beer belly. Quite often, just a very small increase in weight size, without a man obviously being fat, can be enough to push him over his personal fat threshold.”
This increase often occurs in middle age. “Men often become less active in their mid-20s and 30s,” Taylor says. “Due to the pressures of family and work, they stop doing competitive sport or playing football or other team games, for example. Then there’s a tendency for weight to increase and unfortunately, in Britain, the average adult increases in weight half a kilogram every year from the age of 20 up to about 70. So you can see why type 2 diabetes, a disease of too much fat in the liver and pancreas, comes about in middle years.”
Overweight middle-aged men face other health problems. One in 20 cancer cases in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese, with obesity cited by Cancer Research as the UK’s biggest cause of cancer after smoking. A recent study by University College London found that people who have a high BMI are more likely to develop dementia.
Even when a man manages to stay relatively healthy in middle age, the general trend for weight gain among his peer group may make him feel anxious and force him to reconsider his own masculinity, according to Professor Victor Seidler, a sociologist at Goldsmiths, University of London. “In midlife, you don’t have the energy you used to have. Even if you don’t get ill, people you know may get ill. Suddenly the way you’ve been living as a man, which you took for granted, has a question mark.”
A three-year survey of 300,000 adults by the Office for National Statistics in 2016 found that, compared to everyone else in the UK, middle-aged men are the least happy, have the lowest levels of life satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety.
Books such as Mosley’s enable middle-aged men to privately read the latest scientific research without ever opening up about their anxieties to a doctor or making themselves feel vulnerable, Seidler says. “You’re not supposed to die when you’re 50. How do you respond to the possibility that you might? You want to feel, as a guy, that you can do something about it, in a traditionally masculine sort of way.” Taking action, he says, is a really important way for men of that generation to deal with their feelings of anxiety.
Mark Briant runs MobFit, a popular health and wellness consultancy based in London. Two-thirds of his male clients are middle-aged men, and he sees thousands of them each year. “The middle-aged men we see tend to spend more time than other clients doing their own research into the science of a healthy diet, and they get really into it. They take control of the cooking at home, tend to become a little bit obsessive about what they eat and tie in nutrition stuff with pursuits like triathlons and ultra marathons.”
Despite their age, these men don’t like the idea of ageing. “They really want to cling on to their youth and maintain their muscle mass. They have realised that their body is what will make them feel young or old in the future. They want to optimise their health for an extra five to 10 years and be in their prime for longer.” It is partly an ego thing, he thinks, but also partly a challenge – the question on their minds is: how long can they stay in shape?
A slimmed-down Tom Watson on Good Morning Britain. At his heaviest he weighed 22 stone (140kg). Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex
Dr Matthew Hall, University of Derby associate academic and editor of the Journal of Gender Studies, points out that men in their 40s and 50s today live in a more image-conscious society than previous generations. “There is an expectation now that middle-aged men should look after themselves, rather than simply being sloths.”
He thinks men can be more open about dieting when they follow regimes linked to specific scientific research because it is seen as more masculine. “As a rule of thumb, dieting is coded as a more feminine activity. If men participate in feminine activities, they need to frame it in a way that gives them permission to do it. Scientific markers tend to be coded as male.” Men may also take pride in excelling at the technical challenges of dieting – the precision and monitoring involved – and see it as a sporting endeavour, he says.
One of the ways Watson kept himself motivated was to set realistic targets and then track his weight loss and exercise using a fitness app on his phone. “I’d go to bed at night and do a review in my head, try to tell myself I’d done all right that day.” Gradually, monitoring his progress started to feel similar to competing in a computer game. “I’ve been a video gamer since the 1980s and my approach was definitely gaming theory applied to the self. When I walked 20,000 steps in one day, it felt like winning an extra prize on a video game.”
In total he has lost seven stone (44kg). “I get emotional when I think about the difference it has made to the time I spend with my children. They are very, very proud of me – they tell me that – and we just have more fun now. We run around a lot more. I do handstands in the deep end of the pool and swing them around. I’m more playful around them.”
He has cut out sugar completely and confesses he misses drinking Guinness. “Not the taste as much as having a craic with pals.” His middle-aged male friends have either tried to compete with him – telling him how far they can run or how many bench presses they can do – or quietly followed his example, telling themselves “if Tom can do it, so can I”.
Speaking out about his weight loss publicly made him feel vulnerable, but now he is glad he did it. “I think there are more men nowadays who feel confident talking about their feelings in relation to their health and wellbeing, but not enough.” He has since had hundreds of emails – all positive, he says – from fellow type 2 diabetics. “I feel very, very responsible for trying to get other type 2 diabetics into remission. I feel I need to help them to do that. I am aware that not everyone has the time or inclination to read 150 pieces of research about how they can reverse their condition.”
He thinks there are holes in regulation, particularly around the design and packaging of food, and is disgusted that certain global corporations – “companies like Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola” – are allowed to sponsor major sporting events.
He is no longer worried about his weight though. “Now, I’m more worried about my strength, fitness, stamina and wellbeing,” he says, and it doesn’t sound like he’s joking. He conducted almost the entire half-hour interview with the Observer on his morning walk to work, and has noticed that his mind is clearer since he changed his diet. “That has been the biggest and most unexpected benefit for me. It’s like a brain fog has been lifted. My memory is better. My mental acuity is sharper. I can reach for words quicker. I have never been this calm before, especially in my working life, and if you look at the Labour party at the moment, that’s surprising.”
His outlook on the future has also changed. “I didn’t start this diet thinking about my old age, I started it to stay alive. But now I really do want to live for another 51 years.”
And with those final hopeful words, he marches off to start a new day. This is one middle-aged man, it seems, who is no longer thinking about how soon he will die, but how long he will live.
Additional reporting by Siva PG-Thangarajah
Look at how much weight you’re going to gain
By Christopher Ingraham Christopher Ingraham Reporter covering all things data January 29, 2016
Here’s something to ponder as you consider whether to ditch that New Year’s resolution to exercise more: Your 20s are your prime weight-gaining years, according to data from the CDC.
The charts above are approximations of typical lifetime weight gain, based on CDC data, which is reported in 10-year increments. The numbers come from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which involves medical examinations of thousands of men and women each year. The great thing about these numbers is that they’re based on clinicians’ examinations, not respondents’ self-reports. So fibbing about your actual weight isn’t an issue here.
Epidemiologists have observed that the average person typically puts on 1 to 2 pounds a year from early adulthood through middle age. The CDC’s numbers show that much of the increase is concentrated in the 20s, for men and women.
The average man in his 20s weighs around 185 pounds, according to the CDC. But by his 30s, he’s closer to 200 pounds. The average woman’s weight goes from about 162 to 170 pounds over the same period. These increases are a little smaller than the 1 to 2 pounds per year you typically hear because of different methodology: The CDC makes national estimates based on a representative subset of the population, rather than studying the same individuals over time.
There are any number of factors at work here. As people leave school, they may be less likely to participate in sports. They take on jobs and sometimes long commutes, which eat into time that could otherwise be spent exercising. Job-related time pressures make quick (and often calorie-dense) takeout meals more attractive than time-intensive home-cooked ones.
Then throw in marriage and kids for a whole different set of pressure on free time. Say you’ve got an hour free in the evening and you can spend it either by going to the gym or playing with your kids. Which one would you choose?
There is some good news: CDC’s data suggest that your weight probably will not increase indefinitely. The rate of increase starts to slow in the 30s and 40s, and plateaus in your 50s.
After that, the average weight falls. The kids are out of the house and your career is hopefully in order, freeing up more time to take care of yourself.
But there are other factors at work at this end of the weight-age spectrum. Being overweight also carries increased risk of potentially fatal conditions, like heart disease and stroke. So across the population, some of the average post-50s weight loss may be due to people with unhealthy extra weight dying.
And as people get older, particularly into their 60s and 70s, weight loss may be a symptom of any number of age-related conditions: depression, gastrointestinal problems, cancer, etc.
One important caveat to remember is that we’re talking about population-level averages here. Your individual likelihood of gaining or losing weight at any point in time is influenced by all of the things that make you a unique and special snowflake: your genetic makeup, your own workout regimen, your propensity for scarfing down Jalapeno Cheetos at lunch, etc.
Still, the average numbers give a sense of what a typical person can expect in their lifetime. So if you’re in your 20s, before you ditch that exercise resolution, do the following thought experiment: Take your current weight, and add two pounds for every year until you hit age 50.
Then imagine what pants size that is.
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Is it normal to get fatter with age? Or is that just an excuse?
But is it inevitable to put on a few kilos of fat on as you head into your 30s, 40s, 50s and onwards due to genetics and hormones? Or is it an accumulation of poor lifestyle habits and the fast paced, sugar filled and disposable world we live in now?
Statistics show that our body fat increases steadily after age 30 and for women this may increase by as much as 30 per cent by the time menopause starts.
The fat shifts from subcutaneous, under the skin, to visceral which is around the internal organs. Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Between the ages of 30 and 60 our reaction time slows down with a decrease in the speed at which our nerves conduct impulses by approximately 15 per cent.
Our maximum breathing capacity decreases approximately 40 per cent and there’s an average of 40 per cent to 50 per cent reduction in muscle mass during with a similar decline in bone mass.
When we look at the data from the National Nutrition Survey 1995 and National Health Survey 2007-08, we see the prevalence of overweight and obesity increases with age.
When you look at the national averages, it’s easy to see the weight pile on.Source:Supplied
In 2007-08, around 37 per cent of young adults aged 18-24 years were overweight or obese compared with 75 per cent of people aged 65-74 years.
There’s no denying that hormones change in different ways as we age especially through menopause which can effect weight gain. But there are so many other reasons our weight creeps up.
Here are 10 possible lifestyle causes of weight gain as you age so you can keep an eye out for them and, most importantly, do something about it:
1. Social factors and relationships — Once you are off the market some lose motivation to keep up the advertising budget (ie. keep in shape)
2. Life gets busy/kids — Priorities change to provide a living for family and get ahead financially
3. Once we shift from our developing years (0-20yrs thereabouts) our energy expenditure generally slows down as our resting metabolic rate (RMR) decreases
4. Our jobs generally become more sedentary as we get older
5. We stop playing sports
6. We generally stop being as active — We lose the drive to go play handball or soccer at lunch, or go skateboarding or bike riding with our friends after school
7. Old injuries add up and slow us down — even those with the best intentions can struggle with the accumulation of injuries and the rate at which they heal as you age
8. We value things other than being slim — Our food, cars, whisky, poker nights etc suddenly become more important
9. Higher levels of general lifestyle stress equals more cravings of all things that start with ‘C’ and end in ‘E’. Chocolate, coffee, cake, cookies, Coke … the list goes on
10. Christmas holiday breaks — they’re fun at the time, but studies show the average person stacks on weight each year over the holidays and then doesn’t manage to shed it all. The average gain each year is around 500 grams, which over 10 years can add up. That’s five kilos a decade!
So are we doomed and have to accept the ageing weight gain and the disease and complications that come with it? Or can we address some of the lifestyle habits above and achieve a better quality of life, a longer existence and less lifestyle disease?
I know what my thoughts are … I endeavour to provide you with the knowledge, education and tools to create better lifestyle habits, so that you have the best life possible!
And hey, if Jennifer Aniston can still look like this at 45, then maybe there’s hope for us yet!Source:News Corp Australia
Dr Tim Robards is a chiropractor and exercise scientist (B. Med. Sc, M. Chiro). Tim recently launched his exercise and diet program The Robards Method.
Weight Gain: 5 Hidden Reasons You’re Putting On Pounds
If the needle on your bathroom scale starts creeping upward, or refuses to head downward, you’ll probably suspect the cause of this random weight gain is too many doughnuts, not diseases or drugs. But while the usual culprits-too much food, too little exercise-do account for most excess poundage, there are some surprisingly common medical conditions and widely used prescriptions that can add anywhere from a little to a lot-a whole lot-of excess weight. Here’s a checklist of what to watch for if you inexplicably find weight either packing on or unwilling to pack up and go.
1. Hormonal Havoc
You’d think 40 or more extra pounds would be a clue that something’s amiss. Yet many of the 7-10 percent of premenopausal women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often go for years unaware that their weight gain is in part due to this underdiagnosed condition, in which the ovaries and sometimes the adrenal glands, for unknown reasons, pump out too much testosterone, according to Andrea Dunaif, M.D., chief of endocrinology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of metabolism and molecular medicine at Northwestern University Medical School. Because the pounds typically pile on gradually beginning around puberty, or sometimes don’t surface until post-pregnancy weight refuses to budge, it’s frequently not obvious to PCOS sufferers, or their doctors, that there’s a medical trigger. Possible tip-offs of PCOS include thinning hair, excess facial hair, severe acne, irregular periods, impaired fertility-all hallmarks of a hormal imbalance.
It’s not the extra testosterone that triggers the weight gain, though. So what does? Short answer: Nobody knows, Dunaif says. While there seems to be a genetic component to PCOS-it runs in families-and a genetic component to the associated weight gain, there’s little to explain why some of those diagnosed develop weight problems while others do not. It is clear that cultural and environmental factors play a part because Europeans, and Americans on the coasts, who may feel more social pressure to be skinny, gain much less weight on average than do their (sometimes literal) sisters in middle America. The encouraging side of this is that while many women with PCOS feel like their weight is an immovable number (and treatment for PCOS does not help with weight loss), studies show that almost any woman with PCOS, treated or not, can, if put on a supervised diet and exercise program, lose 10 percent or more of body weight, Dunaif notes. Dropping such a moderate amount of weight often will, in turn, push male hormone levels down, leading to a resumption of regular periods and improved chances of conception.
2. Thyroid Thickness
For the most part, blaming a sluggish thyroid for excess weight falls in the “you wish” category. “A lot of overweight people sort of hope they have hypothyroidism because it’s treatable,” comments Howard Eisensen, M.D., director of Duke University’s Diet and Fitness Center. “But it’s rare to find someone who’s significantly overweight because of an underactive thyroid. Even if there is decreased thyroid function, correcting it doesn’t do much to correct overweight because it doesn’t cause much gain to begin with.” If weight creep is on a small scale-in the 5- to 10-pound ballpark-it’s possible that hypothyroidism is behind it, though. If you have other telltale symptoms, such as brittle hair and nails, dry skin and a tendency to feel cold, definitely get checked out, or perform a thryroid self-exam. If your thyroid is to blame, treatment should shrink you a bit, but not because of much fat loss.
Another name for hypothyroidism is “myxedema,” which describes a kind of swelling from thick fluidlike tissue that is a hallmark of chronic low thyroid, explains George Bray, M.D., Boyd Professor at Louisiana State University. Most of thyroid-prompted weight gain, therefore, is actually due to excess fluid, not fat; correcting the thyroid problem banishes soggy tissue, along with its poundage, pretty effectively.
3. The Weight of Water
As Bray points out, extra pounds don’t always equal fat, but are sometimes due to fluid retention-familiar to most women from premenstrual symptoms. If puffiness isn’t related to the menstrual cycle, though, it shouldn’t be ignored. “If someone’s retaining a lot of water-enough to add more than a couple of pounds-they’d better get to their physician very quickly to make sure they don’t have heart or kidney failure, both of which can cause edema, or swelling,” cautions Robert Berkowitz, M.D., medical director of the University of Pennsylvania Weight and Eating Disorders Program, though he adds that such problems are much more likely to afflict older women. “If you push a fingertip into your skin and it leaves a real indentation rather than springing back, that’s a tip-off that it’s fluid, not fat.” Other symptoms include shortness of breath (congestive heart disease), decreased urine output and loss of appetite (kidney failure), and fatigue and increased abdominal girth even without weight gain, for both. Liver disease and certain cancers can cause abnormal fluid accumulation in the abdomen as well, so any big boost in your waist size, with or without weight gain, warrants a look by your doctor, Eisensen advises.
4. A Knot In Your Stomach
Unlikely, but worth mentioning: “If women have rapid, unexplained weight gain, it’s possible, though rare, that they have a tumor,” Eisensen reports. One example: ovarian tumors, some of which are benign, such as a dermoid tumor, a weird conglomeration of various body tissues (sometimes including teeth) that grow in the abdomen. “We’ve had patients gain over 100 pounds because of a huge ovarian tumor in their belly,” he adds. Again, don’t ignore any disproportionate expansion of your middle-check it with a physician.
5. An Rx That Rounds Your Weight Up
Do you take any medicines on a regular basis? Then there’s a chance that one of them may be nudging your figure toward the fuller side. “It may be medications, more than diseases, that tend to contribute to weight problems,” Eisensen says, “and it’s helpful for people to know that there may be alternatives.” Some medicines that commonly cause weight gain:
Anti-depressants: Of the widely prescribed SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), many researchers and clinicians believe that paroxetine tends to produce the most weight gain, though typically not more than several pounds. Other antidepressants, like fluoxetine, sertraline and venlafaxine also may lead to weight gain, especially if used long term. “Short-term use of most SSRIs and SNRIs is not associated with weight gain,” Eisensen says, “but if people are on them a year or longer, they can gain a few pounds or more.”
One of the most popular mood stabilizers is bupropion, which if anything, often helps patients drop a few pounds (but side effects may not make it a good choice for all overweight people with depression, Eisensen says). The point is that within each class of anti-depressants are some that tend to produce more weight gain, and some that tend to produce less, Bray explains.
Anti-diabetes drugs: Ironically, medications for Type II diabetes-the kind caused primarily by obesity-are often responsible for further weight gain, creating a vicious cycle. Although it’s not suitable for everyone, one effective anti-diabetes drug called Glucophage does not increase weight, says Berkowitz. And, he says, even some patients on other anti-diabetes drugs may be able to lose weight, under their doctor’s supervision, by scaling back on their dosage or adding a weight-loss drug such as orlistat, which partially blocks fat absorption.
Oral contraceptives: But the low-dose pills commonly prescribed now won’t add more than a few extra pounds, according to Berkowitz. Recent studies also back up that there is less of a connection between certain birth control and weight gain than previously thought.
Steroids: The most commonly prescribed are adrenocorticoids, used to control severe autoimmune problems, including asthma, arthritis, lupus and inflammatory bowel disease. Long-term use can increase appetite and hike weight by 20 pounds or more, Berkowitz says, but because the symptoms these steroids alleviate are potentially life-threatening, you don’t have much choice but to be on them when you need to be. However, doctors should be vigilant about cycling patients off medication when they don’t need it, which can help them lose some of the weight they have accumulated, he says.
“Many people who are on a medication and start to gain weight simply stop taking their medicine. Don’t do that!” Berkowitz cautions. “Keep taking it while you ask your doctor about switching to something else.” Whether a drug will cause you to gain weight is hard to predict, Eisensen says. “An anti-depressant that pushes one person’s weight up will push another’s down: Part of one person’s problem may be unrestrained eating, and as the depression comes under control, so does the emotional eating,” he says. “If a medication is a good choice for you, wait and see how it affects you, or look for another way to avoid the weight gain.”
- Most age-related weight gain has nothing to do with your metabolism.
- Most of us put on pounds later in life because we become less and less active.
- There are still plenty of ways to counteract age-related weight gain.
Stop blaming your metabolism.
If you’re over 30 and have gained weight recently, chances are it has little to do with the complex chemical reaction that’s responsible for turning food into energy in your body.
The real reason most people gain weight as they age is simple: they get less active over time.
While this might sound depressing, there’s actually a lot you can do to counteract the seemingly inevitable onslaught of poundage. But doing things like eating spicy food, drinking lots of coffee, or even signing up for a new gym membership won’t cut it. Here’s why.
Boosting your metabolism with special foods doesn’t work
When you eat, your body’s metabolism helps your organs turn food into energy. Even when you’re doing nothing, your metabolism is still churning. At any given moment, it’s helping to carry out chemical reactions that keep you alive — from repairing tissues to regenerating cells.
The speed at which this process happens can’t be altered much, no matter what you do. And that’s a good thing, since it’s designed for maximum efficiency, much like the computer processor constantly working to keep your applications running.
It’s possible to turn up the heat on this process a tiny bit by doing things like drinking stimulant beverages like coffee and eating large amounts of protein. But the effects of those dietary changes are so minor that most experts don’t recommend them.
“Eating foods like green tea, caffeine, or hot chili peppers will not help you shed excess pounds,” notes an entry in the ADAM Medical Encyclopedia, hosted by the National Institutes of Health.
A challenging new fitness class may not help, either
After age 30, most adults become less active every year. We rely more on cars, participate in fewer physical activities like competitive sports, and simply move around less throughout the day.
It’s important to find ways to add more physical activity to your day, since exercise burns calories — both during your workout and after. But don’t be afraid to start small, since large gestures like signing up for new fitness classes or a gym membership are often hard to commit to for more than a few weeks.
Instead, take the stairs instead of the elevator, join a neighborhood sports team, run with your dog instead of walking, and consider cycling to your friend’s place instead of driving.
Age also appears to effect our eating habits. Older people tend to be less perceptive about their body’s nutritional needs, which scientists believe may have to do with a dulling of the mechanism that tells us to stop eating when we’re full.
To address this problem, the first thing you can do is be aware of it. You can also eat smaller meals and refill your plate only when you’re still hungry, as opposed to sitting down with a large plate of food.
“By staying active and sticking with smaller portions of healthy foods, you can ward off weight gain as you age,” according to the NIH.
All of these shifts in your routine will help your metabolism run more efficiently, but shortcuts unfortunately won’t.