When it comes to aging and weight loss you have probably heard that it gets harder and harder to lose weight. Friends or family will tell you “Just wait till your 30” or “You think losing weight is tough now, just wait till your 40…50…60” and it goes on (sigh).
Most of us will come to experience that with age comes many changes ranging from slight to severe, and weight loss is no exception.
It can become quite frustrating when our bodies stop working like they used to. However, while age related changes can negatively effect health its not the end of the world.
In this article we will discuss how people age, why it gets harder to lose weight as we age, and how we can fight back against age-related issues.
Why do we age
As our bodies age so do the trillions of cells our bodies are made of. There are many theories as to why this happens but here is a quick overview.
There are two main reasons people age. The first is intrinsic aging which is the genetic process of aging that occurs naturally over time. The second reason people age is extrinsic aging. This is the result of outside stimulus ranging from stress to where you live, to your habits and lifestyle.
Most aging theories involve a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
Here are just a few theories as to why we age:
Error theory: The error theory focuses on extrinsic aging. It’s the hypothesis that aging is caused by random and unplanned cellular changes. This can include a build-up of damage over time, a build-up of oxidative stress caused by free radicals, or the bodies inability to repair DNA damage over time.
Programmed theory: The programmed theory focuses on intrinsic aging. This is the hypothesis that aging is caused by natural processes in the body. From our genes turning off over time, to natural changes in hormones, to our immune systems being designed to decline as we age.
Evolutionary theory: Evolutionary theories are all based on the theory of natural selection. These theories say that humans begin aging once they have passed their peak reproductive ability.
Genetic theory: The genetic theory assumes that aging relies almost entirely on genetics. This means our life expectancy is generally determined by our parents.
A lot of research has gone into why people age, but none of these theories have been proven. Its also just as possible that a combination of these aging theories might be the truth.
What happens as we age
Our bodies change as we age due to changes in our cells and organs.
As our cells age they begin to function poorly. Old cells will eventually die so our bodies can replace them with new ones, but this process slows down as we age.
This long-term decline in cell function will eventually effect the rest of our bodies as the human body is made entirely out of cells.
This decline in cell function eventually leads to aging organs that wont function at full capacity, decreases in bone density, diminishing senses, and a decrease in muscle mass.
This decline in organ function generally causes people to slow down as they age. It also makes it easier to get injured as a decline in bone density and muscle leaves our bodies vulnerable to breaks and strains.
How does aging effect weight loss
Aging affects many aspects of our lives and weight loss is no exception. As we age our metabolisms start to slow down making it harder to lose weight.
Here are the 4 biggest factors that slow our metabolism over time
Decline in Muscle Mass: Muscles require far more energy to function than fat, so a body with a high percentage of muscle has to burn more calories from day to day. As we age its natural to lose muscle mass meaning people burn fewer and fewer calories the older they get.
Hormonal Changes: Aging men and women both experience changes in hormone levels that can lead to putting on a few pounds. For women, menopause generally leads to a significant drop in estrogen. This decrease in estrogen leads to a natural shift in fat settling around the belly. This means that even if women don’t gain any weight they can still appear to. For men a drop in testosterone will lead to issues with fat and muscle distribution. This makes it harder for an older person to burn calories.
Sedentary Life Style: As people age and their bodies stop performing as well they tend to become less active. A sedentary life style will make it harder to burn calories but it also leads to a decline in muscle mass. This decrease in muscle mass will only exacerbate any weight related issues.
Increase in Responsibilities: As many people age they begin to take on far more responsibilities. This can be anything from starting a family to getting that new promotion. The more responsibilities you have the less free time you have. This can lead to less time spent exercising or less concern for what you are putting in your body.
How to Fight Age-Related Weight Gain.
It’s important to know that while aging cannot be avoided – you can support your body and incorporate anti-aging practices to improve health down to a cellular level.
One simplest way to avoid age-related weight gain is to stay active. As you age and take on more responsibilities it may not be possible to spend an hour in the gym every day. However, if you can take a short walk or simply elevate your heart rate three or four times a week you can fight weight loss before it becomes an issue.
Another way to fight unintentional weight gain is to incorporate more protein into your diet. Protein will help your body build and repair muscle as you age as well as curb your hunger. Additionally, when protein is digested it has an increased thermogenic effect on the body meaning your body is using up more energy to breakdown and use the protein as fuel. Studies show that it not only increases thermogenesis but also increases satiety resulting in fewer calories consumed each day. It’s best to focusing on lean proteins like egg whites, seafood, tofu, and lentils which don’t have as much added fat.
It’s also possible to avoid many of the negative effects of aging through a healthier diet. Making and effort to include fresh, whole-foods will provide much needed minerals and nutrients for your aging cells. This will help to keep them running as optimally as possible and keeping the body as balanced as possible.
Trying to lower your stress levels is also useful anti aging strategy. If you are struggling to lower your stress levels on your own you may want to consider getting a life coach. Another option is doing some personal research and keeping a diary so you know what is working best for you.
If you feel like you’re the only one getting punished by age or cursing your genetics – know that all of us age and will experience age-related issues to some level. You’re not alone.
You can’t beat it completely, but you can make valiant strides towards holding on to youth and more importantly your health. Staying active and eating well are essential to aging well, but working to control stress and finding time for yourself are also very important.
It’s also important to remember that getting older isn’t all bad. From starting a family to building your career life is full opportunities. If you live well and focus on your health you will find that age is just an opportunity to experience new things and go new places that you could never go as a young adult.
WLD can help you fight unintentional weight gain starting with nutrition! We help you form a customized food and supplement roadmap identifying which foods are ideal to get your body back into balance and losing weight like you used to back in the day!