The Science Behind Age-Related Weight Gain

Bodies go through substantial changes as we age. We lose muscle, bone density and the collagen under our skin. We get slower and very often, shorter. While all of this is happening there is also one thing that continues to increase: fat. After the age of 30, the amount of fat on the body steadily increases. Without intervention, most people are likely to continue putting on weight until they reach the age of 55 for men and 65 for women.

It may seem like a terrible twist of fate, but in fact, there’s a real scientific reason why we gain this weight. However scientific, most of us don't want or need this extra padding. Fortunately, we don’t have to accept age-related weight gain. There are things we can do to lose weight and maintain our progress regardless of age. We’ve done a little digging to find out exactly what those things are to set us all up for successful aging.

Age and Weight: How They’re Linked

It’s estimated that adults gain 0.6 to 1.7 pounds each year after the age of 30, as reported by LIVESTRONG. All in all, women gain about 7 pounds and men gain about 15 pounds. While there are many reasons why this is so, mostly it has to do with our fat cells and something called lipid turnover. It helps to know that it happens to almost everybody. Weight just becomes more complicated as we get older.

To add insult to injury, it becomes more difficult to lose weight because of these same processes. The things that worked when we were younger may no longer be effective. We also may have to work harder to see the same results. This is due to the above as well as other things like hormonal changes.

The Science Behind Age-Related Weight Gain

Age-related weight gain is somewhat disconnected from diet and/or exercise habits to the extent that many people may gain weight while continuing healthy habits that kept them trim and fit before. Muscle mass and metabolism decrease with age which may make it more difficult to burn off calories and fat — so the exercises that worked well before may need an overhaul to help keep that muscle loss from interfering. Many people must also face hormonal fluctuations and may experience increased stress as life shifts and changes around them, says Woman’s Day — both of which can lead to weight gain.

Really though, our ability to turnover (store and remove) lipids in our fat decreases, resulting in weight gain and there's nothing much to change that. But by knowing about it we can try to offset or balance this change with action. And aha! Therein lies our power. To offset this body change, we must eat less or look for ways to increase our lipid turnover rate. Let's look at what that means.

How To Battle Age-Related Weight Gain

Granted, many of the things that cause age-related weight gain are out of our control. It's just plain stressful to face life changes and hormone fluctuations aren't very fun. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it. We can increase our muscle mass through strength-training exercises. Building muscle during this time is critical. This will increase the number of calories our bodies naturally burn, even at rest.

Exercise also helps increase that all-important lipid turnover rate. In addition, we can eat smaller amounts of even healthy foods. Not to mention the always great sage advice: drink lots of water and learn to keep that stress level to a minimum. Remember how grandma ate like a bird? Yeah, she was onto something.

Age-related weight gain is caused by things we can now start to understand. This alone may move it from inevitable to avoidable. There are dietary and lifestyle changes we can make that will help fight the bulge. And let's be honest, everything is changing anyway so what's a little more? At least these are in our control! Increasing activity can help but strength training is where the best rewards are at. The key is to begin the efforts as early as possible. Now is the second-best time to get started. The best time was yesterday. So let's get on it and make sure the future is something we chose, not something we suffer.

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3/11/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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