Weight Gain and Aging. How to Avoid Problems

Weight Gain and Aging. How to Avoid Problems

What should focus on as we age to maintain ideal weight and health?

According to the latest government statistics, Americans are getting heavier by the generation, weighing around 10 pounds more than people their age did a decade earlier, and the gap is widening. An average woman in her 50s weighs 170 pounds, whereas in the 60s, this woman would have weighed 145 pounds. Take a look at images of elderly people in the middle of the 20th century and you might be shocked at just how much heavier we are today. 

The problem is that this extra weight is causing a whole host of health issues at a time when we can ill afford it. As we age, our metabolism slows, we lose muscle mass, our testosterone levels drop, we require fewer calories, and our bodies handle less physical exertion.

For women, this situation is even more significant. Women will usually gain an average of 15 pounds during their menopausal years, often developing an insulin resistance that prompts their bodies to store fat and changes how their bodies process foods. The ratio of calories burned versus calories stored shifts considerably, making diet and exercise even more important.

It is simply much easier to gain weight and harder to lose weight as you get older.

According to the NIH, a person who does the minimum amount of regular exercise will lose 7% of their body mass (mostly muscle) each decade after the age of 20. This means that by the time you are middle aged, you can lose 25% of your total mass. This is obviously significant given that as metabolism slows and we age, we not only need less calories, but we tend to put on weight easier and accumulate fat faster.

So combine the loss of muscle mass and mobility with an increase in fat stores and we have a recipe for illness. On the flip side, a person who is active (aerobic and anaerobic exercise) on a regular basis only loses 2% of their mass per decade, so less than 10% by middle age. This is great news, because the application of a proper diet and an exercise regimen translates into optimal health and longevity.

So exercise is absolutely critical. The key is to learn to love movement. Humans are designed for motion; we are an animal meant to be active physically. The worst thing you can do for your health is to be sedentary. Atrophy is the first consequence, and then the problems rapidly accumulate from there. Fortunately, you do not need to subject yourself to crazy workouts. The best approach is to do a brisk 30 minute walk each day and then in your normal everyday activities, embrace movement. One excellent approach is non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT.

Most critically, as you age, you have fewer calories in your discretionary fund. You simply must be judicious about what you eat. Food choices may have been an afterthought in your youth, but they are critical as you age. Extra pounds mean you are more likely to be susceptible to the common diseases that become prevalent in middle age like arthritis, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Statistics are already showing that we are collectively heading in the wrong direction.

It comes down to making wise choices, and it seems we are failing at that. Food manufacturers know that adding sugar, salt, and fats to foods make them more addictive, and these products are ubiquitous and well marketed. The wrong choices for our diet are at the heart of our societal epidemic of avoidable illnesses. What we need is a discipline toward only fresh and whole foods, staying clear of processed, sugary, and the wrong kind of fatty foods.

To sum it all up:

Plenty of activity + Smaller portions of better foods = Optimal health.

So what should people eat in order to stay healthy and remain slim?

We've talked plenty about the ideal diet. To boil it down, we want fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins (especially fatty fish). Keep away from simple carbs and high-glycemic foods, and stick to complex carbs, and plenty of soluble fiber-rich foods. And of course, drink lots of water.

How much should we eat to remain at our healthiest weight?

According to the University of Washington, men need about 18 calories per pound of body weight per day when they are in their 20s, and 13 calories per pound per day at 50. Obviously the more active you are, the more calories you need, but an active 50 year old man should consume 1950 calories a day. Don't be obsessive about calories, they are only a guide (we have a post on how misleading they can sometimes be.)

Eating the right food is more important than how much you eat, especially if you are consistently active. Split your meals into smaller portions more frequently consumed during the part of your day when you are most physically active. Eating only between 9am and 6pm means that you give your body plenty of time to burn off all glucose stores from that day.

Another useful choice is a carefully-formulated appetite suppressant and thermogenic supplement to help keep your hunger under control and maximize the amount of fat burning your body does each day. Avoid common diet pills, they are often extreme and harmful. What you want is a precision formula that prevents hunger when you are first trying to make a change, and also gets your body utilizing more calories from the activity you are doing. What you do not want is an excessive stimulant that gets you twitchy and nervous. You can also pick foods that increase thermogenesis as well.

In the end, it's a pretty simple equation, but incredibly important nonetheless. If you want to grow old with optimal health, your mind staying sharp and your body staying stronger longer, embrace these choices.

Related Posts:
Cooking Up Healthy Weight Loss with Fat Burning Foods
Calorie Restriction is a Gulp from the Fountain of Youth
Easier Weight Loss - Tips for Losing Weight Without Struggling

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The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.


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