Why Is It Harder To Lose Weight As We Get Older?
By Catherine Morgan on July 30, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
Why is it that losing weight seems to be so much harder the older we get? I don’t really consider myself a dieter, but I do try to incorporate healthy eating into my lifestyle. In doing so I hoped to lose a little weight and get back to a healthy BMI. It’s just ten more pounds, but I’ve been finding it difficult to even lose one. Why is that? Does it have something to do with getting older? Is there a way to get past it? I decided to take a closer look at how age affects our weight.
I can’t help but think that my age has something to do with my inability to get rid of those last ten pounds. At 42, I’ve been observing some strange happenings to my body. Oddly, my weight has stayed relatively the same, but how the weight is distributed on my body has been changing dramatically (I seem to be plumping up around my waist and belly, while at the same time shrinking in areas I would prefer to keep).
It turns out there is an explanation for my weighty symptoms, and although age plays a role, there’s much more to it than that. It’s actually a three-part problem (metabolism, hormones, and sugar), and thankfully there are ways to conquer it.
First. As we get older our metabolism begins to slow down a bit, and often we become more sedentary. When this happens, if we don’t compensate by eating less or exercising more, our slower metabolism will contribute to weight gain.
Things we can do to help boost our metabolism ...
Never skip breakfast, this is why ... When we are sleeping, our metabolism is also sleeping. We may wake up with an alarm, but our metabolism will only wake up with food or water. The best way to turn your metabolism on in the morning is to have a glass of water (lemon water is especially helpful) and shortly after eat a healthy breakfast. Exercise is very important, too. Do some sort of strength training; this will increase your muscle mass, and lean muscle burns more calories while increasing your metabolism. Avoid being sedentary for too long, try to do something active for at least 20 minutes a day (anything from walking to an aerobics class can be helpful). Avoid alcohol. Alcohol not only decreases your metabolism, but it also stimulates your appetite. Snack between meals on healthy complex carbohydrates. Snacking can actually help you eat less by not letting you get to a point where you are so hungry you’ll eat anything.
Second. As we get older our hormones begin to wreak havoc on us, causing not just weight gain but also an unusual distribution of our weight. You may find that (like me) your body seems to be storing extra weight in the belly area. Although this isn’t the most flattering area to store extra fat, the real problem is that carrying extra weight in this area can actually increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes -- this is known as metabolic syndrome.
People with metabolic syndrome struggle with excessive abdominal fat; low levels of HDL -— good -— cholesterol; and insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, in which the body doesn’t properly use insulin or blood sugar. Metabolic syndrome raises the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, according to the American Heart Association.
We can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome by eating a healthy diet. Here are some ideas ...
Eat a low glycemic diet. Foods which have a low glycemic index score create smaller variances in blood sugar and insulin. These are triggers for responsible weight loss, but are also 100% tied to other benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes management, and energy levels. Try the Mediterranean Diet. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. I recently started reading a book called “The Hormone Diet,” and it not only explains how we can use food to get our hormones back in balance, it also shows us ways to determine whether or not hormones are the cause of our weight and other health issues.
Third. Avoid eating foods high in sugar. It won’t be easy, recent studies show that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine, but with hard work you can conquer it. Sugar can also reduce your body’s ability to know when it’s full, in turn you eat more and gain weight. From The Wall Street Journal ...
Studies have found that a diet of sweet, high-fat foods can indeed blunt the body’s built-in fullness signals. Most of them emanate from the digestive tract, which releases chemical messengers including cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide and peptide YY when the stomach and intestines are full. Those signals travel up to the brain stem and then the hypothalamus, telling the body to stop eating.
Here are some ideas for reducing sugar in your diet ...
Say no to soda and other sugary drinks, instead drink water or fruit-infused water. Stop eating sugary treats like cookies, cake, ice-cream and candy. When you crave something sweet, reach for your favorite fruit instead. Make yourself a fruit smoothie. For a yummy sweet treat, keep frozen blueberries, grapes and cherries in your freezer.
Are you finding it harder and harder to lose weight as you get older? Are you gaining weight in places you never did before? Tell us about it in comments.
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com