Battling The 40s Bulge
Most of the time people use metabolism as a convenient excuse for the weight gain or the inability to lose weight.
There is some truth to this actually, if you are really over 40, but only some.
Believe it or not, even when you are doing nothing except reading this article at the moment, you are still burning calories. This is known as your resting metabolic rate. Every decade of life after 40, the metabolic rate decreases by 5%.
The natural aging process will require all of us to eat 100% calories less at the age of 40 to actually lose or even just maintain our current weight. In this, only the resting metabolic rate is involved. Metabolism, as mentioned, however, is really a minor determinant in this case.
Life becomes more complex with age regardless of the reasons. As such there is little or no time for exercise and for making healthy eating and healthy lifestyle choices. Since food is always available to us 24/7 we tend to over-indulge and forget about physical activities.
If we have to insist that metabolism is the prime factor in weight problems among individuals age 40 and up, then there are only a few reasons why metabolism should be pinned the blame.
Metabolism is based on three factors:
- thyroid function
- muscle mass
With genetics, the area is still grey and so we move on to thyroid function.
The activation of thyroid tissues in women during the 40s decreases their metabolic rate. Women have more thyroid tissues than men and so their metabolic rate, relative to the amount of thyroid tissues that they have, decreases considerably when compared to that of men.
Muscle mass is the final element that affects metabolism. Muscle mass decreases in individuals aged 40 and up because of decreased activity. Women will lose double the amount of muscle mass that men lose at this age making losing weight gender specific at this point of life. When an individual loses muscle, he/she also loses vital structures that are far more active in metabolism than fat. Lean people can burn fat easier than those who have a high percentage of fat in their bodies.
Going to the gym and working out a particular muscle allows that structure to burn from 35-50 more extra calories per day, while the same amount of fat would only burn from 5-10 calories per day.
Therefore, we have to understand that to preserve a good metabolic rate, we should try to keep our muscles in good condition and not lose them to melting. An average male’s muscles can melt away from the age of 30-50 making him lose from 5-10 pounds of precious muscle mass. Women on the other hand, can lose the same amount because of repeated dieting and increased physical inactivity.
Old wives’ Tales?
Upon reaching the age of 70-80, the weight gain that was accumulated may begin to slough off.
Gaining weight happens steadily for most people, so is fat acquisition, and the tendency to lose lean mass to about the age of 65. After the 65th year, most people start to lose weight as is the trend in most people from 70-80 years old and beyond.
This weight loss may be because of various hormonal changes, metabolic changes, or the anorexia that usually accompanies old age. The loss of appetite can be due to certain emotional factors like losing a family member, financial issues, or many other matters.
However, we don’t have to succumb to what age can bring. Even with the automatic physical and physiological changes that come with age, not everyone will pack on pounds as they grow old – this is a myth. Although there is a possibility that we would all gain from 30 – 40 pounds in our middle ages, there are things that we can do to offset the change in metabolic rate.
Consuming an extra 100 calories per day over our usual consumption can cause us to gain ten pounds in a year. This basically shows that even small amounts of calories can cause unnoticeable weight increases.
Physical activity can actually get metabolism working for us. Those who are in their 40s should increase usual physical activity than that which they are used to. This would help metabolism significantly. Try walking over some hills instead of on the street, try resistance training and more demanding physical activities.