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Why people gain weight as they age?

Introduction

How would you like to be greeted at a party, a family gathering or a school reunion?

Scenario #1: “Man you got fat!” or “Dear, did you put on some weight?”
 
Scenario #2: “Someone’s working out, eh?” or “How can you still fit into that dress!?”
 
Number 2, I assume? Yes, me too!
 
We all wish to stay fit and energetic as time passes by. The problem? As you get older it’s almost inevitable to gain weight, they say. People just accept that as a fact and stop worrying so much about it.
 
I think that, to some degree, it’s totally fine to stop stressing out so much, but certainly if you reach unhealthy levels of “slothfulness” it’s time to make a change.
 
Putting together a meal plan and do some sort of regular physical activity will go a long way, before needing to change your lifestyle completely.
 
If you’re still young be prepared: The body will change and to stay fit and in shape becomes harder.
 
For those already in that time of your life: I got good news – you can still get in shape.
 
There are things you can do to prevent weight gain and of course things you can do to get rid of the extra you’re carrying around.
 
Let’s start with a little bit of “How much weight gain per year as you get older” and “why you get heavier as you get older”.
 
At the end, I have “14 ways to stop, prevent and revers” weight gain as you get older, wiser and better.
So you can avoid and manage to gain weight as you age.
 

Statistics of people getting fatter as they get older

fat-vs-muscle
Copyright to www.thentext28days.com
1 to 2 lb per year (0.5kg to 1kg) is the average of what people seem to put on –  without trying.
 
This might not be an issue in your 20s, but if you begin to put on 1 to 2lbs per year beginning at age 30 that’s 20lb to 40lb (10kg to 20kg) as you hit age 50. Doh!
 
That’s a lot of weight. And that’s what you see happen too so many people! 
 
So, how do people gain weight as they get older? Before we get there I like to give you a little perspective on the 0.5kg to 1kg per year.
 
How much would that be per day?
 
 
So, over a year you put on 3.500 to 7.000kcals extra worth of fat.
 
Per day that’s 9.5 to 19kcals.
Ain’t that bad, right? Just a little surplus. How much is that, say, like an apple?
 
Let’s go with 20kcals daily surplus. A normal-sized apple has around 65kcals, so a third of an apple too much each day – if not taken care of – can result in 20kg fat as you hit 50.
 
This won’t be linear gain rather be a bumpy line. You can best compare that with interest in stocks that you have or saving in general. Putting away just a little bit every day or month will result in a lot as the years go by.
 
In this case, though, it’s an undesired effect of getting fat.

Overweight and health issues

You now that being “fat” is unhealthy. Here are a few reasons to at least trim down a little:
 

Causes of weight gain

old couple LPM
The cause for weight gain mostly has a behavioral (what you do in your life) and the physiological side (how the body does its thing).
 
Both change as you age, so let’s have look at what’s happening. I am making a rather general assumption here on how life goes.
 
You might not find yourself in this example, that’s cool. Take it as a “big picture” for illustration.
 

Behavioral

The 20s:

Being in your prime age getting fat won’t be of any real concern to you now. You’re active, hitting the gym, traveling, partying, out with friends all day, on road trips, plenty of sex and with a happily humming metabolism that burns pretty much everything you throw at it to a crisp.
 

The 30s:

As you reach your 30s things start to change. Many people become parents and begin to shift their priorities towards the family. Although still very young, people go out less and the day to day life becomes more structured and less wild (hopefully you took good care of the “wild” in your 20s!).
 
Together with a work-life, that occupies a big chunk of your day getting enough physical activities like workouts and other sports become hard to fit in. Luckily, your body still got it’s power so your good on that end.
 
Still, that’s when many will notice they became a “little soft” here and there.
 

The 40s:

Family and job have taken you to their fullest. The days are packed and crammed with getting the kids to school, going to work and family time at the end of the day. Most sports and activities fall onto the weekends. You take more care that your kids are active than you do for yourself.
 

The 50s:

Kids are grown-ups now and will begin their journey of life. For the parents, there is now a lot more free time. Hobbies, a professional career, and other obligations take up a big place now.
 
Those who get active again do themself a huge favor. But we now hit the stage where some already have gained the 10 to 20kg. Moving around feels like a struggle
 

The 60s, 70s and beyond: 

If you haven’t got rid of the extra weight during your 50s, it’s not very likely you will change that as you get older. In addition to a lot of bodily changes, many settle with the idea of being “rounder”.
 
Physio LPM

Physiological

 
As you age burning fat will become harder and harder for your body.
 
The so-called “lipid turnover rate” is decreasing. That’s how good your body is at burning fat.
 
There are a few major factors involved that slow down metabolism and make it harder to burn fat as you age. They are all are somewhat connected and one feature may bring another with it.
 
Most simply, these are some of  the things that happen:
 

Hormonal changes:

Both sexes undergo hormonal changes as life progresses. Women go through menopause at age 45-50, which takes 1-3 years. The ovaries stop producing eggs and estrogen.
 
For men, the decay is more gradual as testosterone levels decline somewhere between the age of 35-40 at ~1% per year. At age 70 most men have lost 30% of their testosterone.
 
The effects stay somewhat the same: These big players regulate metabolism, the immune system and how much muscle you can build and therefore keep.
 

Muscle loss:

Muscle is a highly metabolic tissue that burns plenty of calories. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. But it only stays if you need it.
 
With a rather inactive lifestyle – especially when you workout less  – the body won’t see the need to keep it.
 
Over time you lose your biggest asset. Coupled with the hormonal decline the result is this, a …
 

Slower metabolism:

Partly stemmed in the loss of muscle mass your body’s metabolism will get slower. That means you need less food. Many forget about that and keep eating like there used to. Eating out becomes a real challenge because the served portions are so large. 
 

Bad joints:

Aching knees and back can be very unpleasant if not painful.
As we get older our tendons get stiffer and shorter, connectivity tissue clogs together, repetitive motions, hunching in front of a computer all do one thing: They hurt our joints and reduce their range of motion.
 
To stay active you need to be able to move in some manner. To do so, you need functioning joints.
 

You are more sedentary:

Sitting most of the day burns very little calories. Walking to the coffee machine a couple of times a day doesn’t exactly count as a workout. By being very inactive most of the day – remember your also sleeping around 8h – it’s just another brick in the wall.
 

Stress:

It’s shown very clearly that stress raises hormones that are related to the “fight and flight” response to a present threat. Cortisol is the main stress hormone which in the short term helps to prepare you for a fight. Releasing certain other hormones, it sets you up to have energy available if the unavoidable is going to happen.
 
To quote from this article: “…  cortisol levels can remain persistently elevated in the body when a person is subjected to chronic stress.”
 
One of the side-effects of cortisol is raised hunger.
 
So, if it’s always on, you will always be hungry or at least a little bit more hungry than you should be.
 
Another effect is how body fat is distributed over the body when cortisol is constantly elevated.
 
Couple that with the urge to relieve stress with “comfort foods” – which are usually salty, sugary and fat – you have a great recipe for fat gain and bad habits.

14 Ways to stop, prevent and reverse weight gain

karate LPM
Enough of the black painted walls! What can we do to stay fit and healthy and don’t gain a ton of fat?
 
If you look at all the things that will get you fat, it’s a decent start to inverse them.
 
Whether you’re still young or you reached the age here are the 14 Tips on fighting weight gain as you get older:
 

#1 Be aware of the change:

“Knowing” is the first step in taking action. If you know that you will gain weight over time, find your peace with it and do something about it. 
 

#2: Don’t accept the change:

Make the mental shift that you actually can work against the weight gain. This decision and finding your “why” will be the motivation to do what’s needed. For example …
 

#3: Don’t wait until you’ve got overweight.

Start early, because when you’re young it’s not that much work. And your future self with thank you BIG TIME.
 
Imagine you have to lose 20kg in a year! That’s a year of hard work and to be honest: You might still have those bad habits and are likely to return to them.
 
But if you begin at a young age you can build those good habits.
 

#4 Asses regularly:

Notice that you change. The mirror and older pictures say a lot of honest things. But sometimes, that’s too late.
 
Quarterly weigh-ins provide an “often enough” check on how things are. No need to make it a science, though.
 
Just get on the scale a few times a year and decide for yourself: Do you like the number you see?
 

#5 Do periodic dieting:

Trimming down for a few weeks where you put in all your energy can have a huge impact. After 2-4 weeks return to normal, healthy eating. A couple of weeks of focus can get you very far.
 
If the occasional sprint is not your thing and you would like to make eating healthy a real habit I recommend you craft a meal plan with some wiggle room.
 
Watching what and how you eat most of the time will prevent a lot of unwanted fat gain.
 

#7 Meal Size:

In addition to #4 make sure you’re not eating so much. If you were very active during college and as a young adult chances are, you are not working out 6 days a week anymore, now.
 
Still, you eat like the champion they were. That’s not gonna work, sorry!
 

#8 Stay active:

Make it part of your lifestyle and involve the kids. Do activities together. Lead an active life. The kids want to play anyways! You’re putting in so much to raise them. See their desire for activities as a help to keep you in shape.
 
 

#9 Iron:

Is – especially for men – your biggest weapon against the drop in testosterone. You might not be able to build as much muscle, but keeping it becomes the goal now.
 
A basic full-body weightlifting plan will maintain muscle mass and increase/ keep up testosterone levels
 
This holds also true for women: You might not have the potential to build as much muscle as men, but it’s still important to build and keep muscle and for the same reason. Keep the muscle to keep your metabolism up and humming.
 
The added benefit of a healthy amount of muscle mass is that it helps to stabilize your posture and reduce the wear of joints.
 

#10 Mobility:

Less fancy but so, so important. 
It’s of equal importance as building/ keeping muscle to do your mobility drills.
 
Just 10- 20 minutes of stretching, twisting, and flexing during the day is all you need.
Add more specific movements around your workouts (before or after the weights).
 
Join a Yoga or TaiChi class – both work a lot on mobility, posture, and stabilization.
 
You will not be as flexible as you were as a six-year-old, but you can do pretty good. 
 

#11 Injuries:

They occur even to younger folks. But if you already have a nagging shoulder, knee pain, limited range of motion: Work with it. Find ways to still do a workout.
 
Ask your practitioner and physio about a training plan or specific movements you could do. Well trained coaches and personal trainers, too, know how to train “around” an injury.
 

#12 Avoid the obvious junk.

Watch what you’re eating. A strict diet plan won’t be necessary for your 20s, but stick to healthy foods most of the time. The occasional “cheat” is all fine in moderation. Just make sure that your 
 

#13 Restrict alcohol:

Alcohol has plenty of calories that pretty much have no nutritional value for your body. Still, we like a glass of wine or beer from time to time.
Just don’t get hammered all the time whenever you decide to have a drink. I
 

#14 Avoid/ Reduce stress:

Regular walks in the forest also known as “forest bathing” provide a healthy drop of cortisol. Even the anticipation of the walk seems to have this effect.
 
Find ways to relax. I know that work, family, the pressure to be more socially active or wanting to stay fit, read more, travel more and so on. They all pile up a huge mountain of “stress” as obligations in the back of our heads.
 
Make it a conscious decision to relax and take the time of all for your self. It’s not always possible, but you’re the one suffering. Not the others you’re trying to please.

What to do when you already have some overweight?

scale LPM

This can also work if you just hit the age and discovered you’re unhappy with how you look, feel, perform or how your health stats are. Before you make any big changes, please visit your doctor, talk to him about what you want to do, get the approval and ask for additional things you can do.

The following are 9 steps to put you into the right direction of your weigh-loss journey:

  1. Get into serious-mode: If you want to change make the decision to do so and put in the work.
  2. Get on a diet: Remove the obvious junk, don’t drink anything that contains calories.
  3. Daily walks: Around the block, through the forest or a park.
  4. Remind yourself often about the decision you made.
  5. Eat healthily. If you’re starting, don’t bother with any strict and super detailed meal plan.
  6. Join a gym: Weight training to preserve and build muscle which burns calories even while you’re sleeping.
  7. Tell others about your goals: Create social pressure to stay on course.
  8. Reward good habits: Treat your self for even the smallest step in the right direction.
  9. Give this process and yourself time to work its magic.
 
The first thing with any change we wish to accomplish is making the decision and visualizing how you’re doing it. Implant that thought and get rid of old beliefs. Over time the actions, like the steps above, will feel easy and natural.
 
As you progress you can add the more advanced stuff. You’ll hit a natural limit of what’s possible without a lot of planning.  At that stage, though, you will look and feel very different for sure. Additionally, you’ve to build habits and confidence to advance – if you like to!

Conclusion

As we age the body changes. We can not do much about that. But we have control over the decisions we make and the actions that follow.
  • Be aware the body will undergo certain changes.
  • Make a conscious decision to take action.
  • Eat well, create a meal plan, limit junk and alcohol.
  • Stay active, you can use the energy of your kids as a driver for yourself.
  • Build and keep muscle – a basic training routine that covers your whole body.
  • Work on your mobility.
  • Do this: 2 sessions of Yoga and Weighttraining per week, repeat forever.
  • All the above pints help reduce stress. Go hiking or just for a stroll through the forest when life gets chaotic.
 
This pretty much looks like general health advice, right? Do you know what? That shows to me how easy and general we can go about that, in order to stay fit and healthy.
If you’d ask me about the most important factors to work on I’d say watch your diet and get into some regular activities. Do some lifting and spend as much time as possible playing games with the kids. Lead as an example.
 
What do you see as hurdles to stay fit as you age? Do you have a plan? Are you already working on the habits to be fit forever? Please share in the comments.
 

Some of the topics of this article have been covered here on LPM already. To learn more about each topic check this list I put to together to safe you time:

Meal Planning:
http://letsprepmeals.com/complete-meal-prep-guide-part-1/

Choosing the right diet:
http://letsprepmeals.com/how-to-choose-the-perfect-diet/

Create you own diet:
http://letsprepmeals.com/complete-meal-prep-guide-part-4/

Shrink prepping time by merging all recipes into one big recipe:
http://letsprepmeals.com/complete-meal-prep-guide-part-3/

Make awesome salads:
http://letsprepmeals.com/how-to-make-the-greatest-salad-ever/

Get and stay motivated:
http://letsprepmeals.com/21-tips-for-better-motivation/

Learn how to better stick to your diet:
http://letsprepmeals.com/the-90-10-rule-for-easier-dieting/

 

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