Why is it that as you get older, you notice that it is harder to lose weight (or easier to gain weight)? It seems that the older you are, the more your diet affects your weight. This normal process, which affects millions of people, has at least one explanation.
In today’s article we will explain why your food affects your weight more as you get older.
Several years = more kilos?
Your body develops and changes all the time, throughout your life. Your muscles, bones and metabolism are constantly changing.
The body of a 10-year-old child does not work in the same way as for the same person when they are 25, 40 or 65 years old. In adulthood, you will have more or less muscle mass, depending on whether you are younger or older.
Therefore, it is normal to see changes in body weight and notice that fat is deposited in different areas where it might have been easier to get rid of it before.
The baseline of your energy expenditure also changes through each step of your life. When you are younger, you use more energy, which decreases over time. This is because your body becomes more efficient at using energy.
Energy consumption is reduced by two main factors:
1. Your body composition varies
As you get older, you lose muscle and gain fat.
The body fat percentage in a man between 20 and 30 years varies between 18 and 21%. Between 41 and 50 years it reaches 25%, and over 60 years it is higher than 26%.
For women, the same thing happens: they have between 22 and 24% body fat when they are between 20 and 30 years old, reach 27 to 30% between 41 and 50 years old, and will eventually be over 31% after they turn 60 years old.
Fat builds up naturally, while muscle mass is reduced – this is because the muscles use more energy.
2. Your hormones change
This applies not only to women going through menopause, but also to adult men.
Your hormonal patterns have a lot to do with your weight, they affect for example whether you eat or sleep more.
As you get older, hormones work to save energy because you do not have the same abilities you had when you were younger. This means that you are more likely to build up more fat (especially around the waist).
This is how the body prepares for less physical activity.
It is easier to gain weight after the age of 30
This does not mean that you have free rein to eat what you want before your 30s. It’s just a reminder that the changes in your body do not just occur at an advanced age.
As you get older, you will notice that the middle part of your body increases, your stomach may bulge out, and your clothes will not fit as they used to.
The relationship between having more candles on the cake and gaining weight may seem inevitable if you maintain the same eating habits as before.
The fight against obesity and overweight becomes more difficult as the years go by.
Poor diet, stress, genetic factors and leading a sedentary lifestyle can affect how many pounds you put on. This can also happen with the use of certain medications and hormonal imbalances.
The latter is one of the main reasons for the buildup of fat.
After the age of 30, the hormones estrogen, progesterone and androgens do not work in the same way as they used to. Because these are essential for maintaining body mass, it is normal to see some shifts in the hips, abdomen or thighs.
The energy sources that seemed tireless when you were between 15 and 20 years old disappear. You are also beginning to lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
Adding work and more relaxing activities (eating out, going on a cruise, going to the movies) will result in your weight gain as you get older. It’s a very simple equation.
Your weight is not the only change as you get older
What if you lead a healthy lifestyle, get exercise and eat well? You need to consider the number of calories you need.
- A 31-year-old woman who weighs 57 kg, for example, must consume 2,000 daily calories to maintain her weight.
- The same woman at the age of 45 will only need 1850 calories.
If you instead continue to eat 2000 calories a day, you will have a surplus of 150 which results in approx. 4.5 kg in six months.
You need to not only think about the extra pounds that “appear” as you get older, but also about diseases or conditions that begin to affect you as an adult.
This is the case of osteoporosis (osteoporosis) due to loss of bone density, or osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) due to problems with the joints.
To avoid gaining weight over the years, it is important to adapt habits you already have to this new reality. For example:
- Practice effective exercises (yoga, pilates, swimming, etc.) even more
- Reduce your intake of fat, salt and flour
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol
- Get lots of sleep
Finally, you have to accept that at 50 you will not have the same body as you had as 25. In addition to the fact that more than two decades have passed, your habits are different and your body has changed accordingly.