Simple Methods to Prevent Age-Related Weight Gain
© 2019 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
Sometime between the ages of 40 and 50, both men and women tend to have increased difficulty staying slim. For women, weight gain usually coincides with menopause or the years leading up to menopause. Changing hormone levels during this time may result in weight gain of about a pound a year. Meanwhile, these changes can encourage fat to accumulate around your abdomen, instead of your hips and things.
Many women gain about a pound a year during and after menopause.
At the same time, as people age their bodies promote the replacement of muscle with fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat does, this change means that your metabolism slows down. Further, physical activity tends to slow down as well. The resulting middle-age spread can quickly add up to 10, 20 or more pounds over a decade, impacting not only your physical appearance but also your health.
Of particular concern is visceral fat, which is located in the abdomen and surrounding vital organs. It can infiltrate your liver and other organs, streak through your muscles and even strangle your heart; and you can have it even if you appear to be thin or have just a small belly.
Visceral fat is linked to everything from bad cholesterol and hypertension to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And those who are shaped like apples (who carry weight around their abdomen), something that tends to occur with age-related weight gain, are at a higher risk than pear shapes (who carry fat around their hips, thighs and bottom).
The good news is that age-related weight gain is not written in stone. That is, it’s perfectly possible to stay slim and trim no matter what your age, and there are plenty of people who do just that.
The tips that follow are some of the most effective and straightforward ways to maintain your ideal weight. And don’t wait until you gain weight to get started. These tips work best when they become a part of your overall lifestyle.
- Get walking. After following close to 5,000 people for 15 years, researchers found that just 30 minutes of walking a day reduced women’s usual yearly weight gain by one pound. Walking and other aerobic exercise can help you boost your metabolism and burn fat.
- Lift weights. By performing strenth-training exercises twice a week for one hour, women were able to control abdominal weight gain, slow the accumulation of visceral fat and decrease body fat, regardless of their diets. Strength training helps to increase muscle mass, boost your metabolism and strengthen your bones as well.
Taking time to do things you love helps you stay active and keeps stress levels down … both essential for maintaining a healthy weight.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Researchers from Northwestern University and others used to data from the Nurses’ Health Study to track the health and habits of 121,700 nurses. They found that the more they boosted their fruit and veggie intake over a 12-year period, the less likely they were to become obese.
- Eat fewer refined carbs. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that middle-aged people who ate the most white bread andother refined foods increased their waistlines three times more than people who ate the same number of calories from less processed, whole foods.
- Eat less in general. Cutting out an extra serving of potatoes or a dessert here and there will help you stay slim. Experts say you generally need about 200 fewer calories a day in order to maintain your weight once you reach your mid-40s.
- Make sure you’re getting enough calcium. A seven-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that calcium helped women to avoid weight gain, particularly if they weren't getting enough to begin with. Women in this group were 11 percent less likely to gain weight, and more likely to lose weight or remain weight-stable, than women who took placebo pills, researchers said. However, the weight benefit was only moderate at just over one-quarter of a pound on average, and less than half a pound for women with low calcium intake.
- Keep stress under control. Being stressed out can cause you to gain weight, according to the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. The study involved more than 2,000 women from their 40s through menopause, and the researchers asked them about unhappy events in their life over the past year. Even after taking into account other factors that could affect weight gain (exercise habits, diet, smoking, etc.) it was found that the more bad things the women reported, the more weight they gained.
Not only does stress cause people to conserve more fat, but it can make you turn to unhealthy methods of stress-relief, such as indulging in junk foods or watching TV instead of working out. It's imperative to take some time to relax, because without adequate down time, it will be near impossible to soothe your stress woes away and keep up with your new healthier habits.
Your body and mind know how to relax -- we just need to give them "permission" to do so.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89: 19-26.
Daily Mail Online
U.S. News & World Report
MayoClinic.org Weight Gain After Menopause