Old age brings with it a series of physiological changes. Dealing with all of them can be quite the uphill battle. Of these, weight gain is perhaps the most frustrating. Earlier, “stubborn-fat” was just something you could lose with a challenging workout. Now, the term seems to hint at something permanent, no matter how hard you try. But, is losing weight once you’re over 50 really that difficult to manage?
The Relation Between Old Age And Weight Gain
Several factors are responsible for weight gain in your latter years. After 30, one begins to lose the lean tissue, particularly muscle mass. The process through which this happens is called atrophy.1 There is also a 1–2 percent decrease in basal metabolic rate – also known as resting metabolic rate – per decade. This is the rate at which your body burns calories when it’s at rest.2
Decreased muscle mass and metabolic rate, in turn, lead to weight gain.3 However, there are some simple ways to kick-start your weight-loss journey and lose that stubborn fat, even after you’ve turned 50.
Tips To Control Age-Related Weight Gain
1. Try Weight Training
Weight training isn’t just for youngsters aiming for six-pack abs. Considering the fact that we lose muscle mass after 30, weight training is required to build lean muscle. Besides, muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.
An increase in the amount of muscle also increases the resting metabolic rate.4 Weight training has also been linked to reduced risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes. It is also linked to improvement in sleep.5 Find a workout routine that works for you and stick to it.
2. Eat Clean
Fast-food chains need to be a thing of the past when you’re trying to lose weight. This means that your diet should include fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Eating food that is rich in nutrients will help you lose and maintain weight.6 Most adults are eating less than half the recommended amount fiber when eating foods rich in fiber is linked to weight loss.7
In this case, what you definitely need to avoid is added sugar and artificial sweeteners, even those that claim to be “low calorie.” These increase appetite and the desire to eat, consequently leading to over eating.8
3. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
It might seem like you’d burn more calories when you’re active than when you’re not, but sleep deprivation is linked to obesity. This is because it increases levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone known as ghrelin and decreases the levels of satiety-inducing hormone known as leptin. Lack of sleep is also linked to stress and insulin sensitivity that, in turn, cause obesity.9 It also leads to less energy during workouts.10 So whenever you can, sneak in some much-needed sleep.
4. Get Some Tests Done
At the most basic level, weight gain can be maintained with exercise and the right diet. However, there might be underlying issues for your stubborn fat that need to be addressed by professionals. Studies link resistance to thyroid, insulin, and leptin as well as a decline in serum testosterone to obesity.11 Growth hormone deficiency also leads to an increase in fat storage.12
So, before setting weight-loss goals for yourself, visit a medical professional and get some tests done. Identifying the root cause of your weight gain will make a huge difference in your weight-loss journey.
5. Lead A Stress-Free Lifestyle
Stress is bad for not just your psychological health but also your physiological health. The source of this is in the adrenal glands, which are present in your kidneys. When you are stressed, the adrenal glands secrete excess cortisol, which then binds itself to fat cells.
Stress also releases an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. This enzyme is responsible for converting triglycerides – a type of fat in our blood – into free fatty acids, or FFA. The more FFA you have, the less likely it is for insulin to break down fat, thus causing weight gain.13 Stress also causes emotional eating because as cortisol increases, so does your appetite.14 So, indulge in stress-alleviating activities as a part of your weight-loss routine.
6. Be Kind To Your Joints
If there’s one thing that we become acutely aware of as we grow older, it is the fact that our joints are more tired and stiff. Indulging in activities that are too intense or rigorous can harm your joints and halt your progress. Indulge in joint-friendly exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga. Visit a physiotherapist regularly to help with any pain that you suffer from and to better understand how to exercise without hurting your joints.
No matter how “stubborn” weight gain might seem after 50, it is possible to lose weight with changes in your lifestyle. Once you have lost weight, keep up with your exercise routine as well as your diet to maintain your weight.
|↑1||Aging changes in body shape. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑2||Is it true that metabolism decreases with age?. American Council On Exercise.|
|↑3||St-Onge, Marie-Pierre, and Dympna Gallagher. “Body composition changes with aging: the cause or the result of alterations in metabolic rate and macronutrient oxidation?.” Nutrition 26, no. 2 (2010): 152-155.|
|↑4||Trimming Off the Fat. American Council On Exercise.|
|↑5||Seguin, Rebecca, and Miriam E. Nelson. “The benefits of strength training for older adults.” American journal of preventive medicine 25, no. 3 (2003): 141-149.|
|↑6||Health Tips for Older Adults. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑7||Slavin, Joanne L. “Dietary fiber and body weight.” Nutrition 21, no. 3 (2005): 411-418.|
|↑8||Aller, Erik EJG, Itziar Abete, Arne Astrup, J. Alfredo Martinez, and Marleen A. van Baak. “Starches, sugars and obesity.” Nutrients 3, no. 3 (2011): 341-369.|
|↑9||Beccuti, Guglielmo, and Silvana Pannain. “Sleep and obesity.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 14, no. 4 (2011): 402.|
|↑10||Obesity Prevention Source. Harvard TH Chan.|
|↑11||Obesity in Older Adults. American Nurses Association.|
|↑12||Rasmussen, Michael Højby. “Obesity, growth hormone and weight loss.” Molecular and cellular endocrinology 316, no. 2 (2010): 147-153.|
|↑13||Daubenmier, Jennifer, Jean Kristeller, Frederick M. Hecht, Nicole Maninger, Margaret Kuwata, Kinnari Jhaveri, Robert H. Lustig, Margaret Kemeny, Lori Karan, and Elissa Epel. “Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study.” Journal of obesity 2011 (2011).|
|↑14||Epel, Elissa, Rachel Lapidus, Bruce McEwen, and Kelly Brownell. “Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 26, no. 1 (2001): 37-49.|