If you're doing what you've always done, eating well and exercising regularly, but the pounds keep creeping on, it’s not your imagination. When we reach our 30s, our bodies typically need less energy, which means we may not be able to eat as much as we did in our 20s.
Then, as you pass 40 and enter middle age, changes in muscle, hormones, and metabolism can cause you to expand around the middle. But there are strategies to staying fit at any age, and our team at Nova Physician Wellness Center can help.
We offer individualized weight management plans, nutrition counseling, and fitness plans. Our team consists of board-certified obesity medicine physicians and nurse practitioners that specialize in weight loss and weight maintenance.
If you’re struggling to keep the pounds off as you get older, we can design a program that works for your lifestyle. Let’s discuss some of the primary reasons losing weight gets more challenging with age.
Loss of muscle mass
As you age, you lose muscle mass, and this changes your body composition. Muscle requires more fuel than fat, so the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. When you lose muscle, your metabolism decreases, which is why you can start to see the scale creep up even if you haven’t changed your diet or lifestyle habits.
Having a higher muscle-to-fat ratio means you'll burn more energy even while sitting. To overcome a decline in muscle mass, you can work to preserve and build muscle. All exercise is beneficial, but strength training — such as lifting weights — is the key to building muscle.
Combining a healthy diet with strength training will help you lose more fat and retain more muscle, than just doing aerobic exercise.
If you’re having trouble shedding extra weight, try adding strength training to your routine.
Declining estrogen and testosterone levels prime the body to store fat precisely where it’s difficult to lose. A decrease in estrogen in women can cause a shift in fat depositing from the hips to the abdomen.
To add to that, abdominal fat increases the risk of insulin resistance, which contributes to weight gain and makes weight loss difficult. In men, decreased testosterone can cause muscle loss, and increased abdominal fat.
What’s more, hormones that regulate appetite and satiety can get out of whack as we age and cause us to have cravings, feel hungrier, and feel less full when we do try to reduce our calorie intake.
To combat a decline in hormones, cut back on added sugar and starches and eat more protein. Eating fewer fast-absorbing carbs and bumping up your protein intake can help balance out hunger hormones and preserve and build muscle.
Change in activity level
Whether it's due to stiff joints, low energy, or a lack of time, people tend to become less active with age. Sometimes life gets in the way, but it’s important to continue leading an active lifestyle as you get older. It’s particularly vital to stay active when you enter middle age. Not only does staying active help maintain a healthy weight as we get older, it also helps reduce the risk of chronic disease.
You don’t have to dive into an intense exercise regimen though. Small changes like parking further away from your destination so that you walk a bit, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and taking brief walking breaks during work can go a long way.
As you get used to moving more, consider activities you may enjoy like tennis, swimming, and dancing. Finding the time to move your body is part of staying healthy and well at any age.
If you aren’t sure how active you are throughout the day, try wearing an accelerometer to track your steps and intensity of daily activity. This will give you a good idea of your current activity level and how many calories you normally burn in a given day. Using that information, you can make some adjustments.
When it comes to losing weight as you age, you don’t have to go it alone. Trust our expert team to provide the guidance and support necessary to combat weight gain, stay healthy, and feel great.
To learn more about our weight-loss services and to get started, give us a call to schedule an in-person or telehealth consultation with one of our providers. Our offices are located in Fairfax, Ashburn, and Vienna, Virginia. Start your journey today.