Weight Loss: It Gets Harder as we Age
Most of us struggle with extra weight in some form or another. Even if we have wizened up and stopped super-sizing our meals, enjoying “all you can eat” buffets, and have put away the junk food, weight loss can still be difficult. In fact, we hear rumors that it can be harder to deal with that extra weight as we get older, and even harder to lose it, but most people question whether those are just another set of diet myths.
The reality is weight loss does get harder as we age. It is not a myth and knowing this is crucial to your health. It doesn’t matter if you are in just starting out on the track to get healthy, or if you have been on that course for some time, understanding why weight loss can be more difficult as we age and what we can do to combat it is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
We know healthy weight loss essentially requires us to burn more calories than we put in our bodies. If we fail to do that, all those extra calories have to find somewhere else to go (and usually end up in little pooches here and there). So, if it is that simple, why doesn’t it always work? And why does it seem to get harder as we get older?
No matter what, our metabolism slows as we age. In those younger days of healthy living, our bodies were able to metabolize and burn off calories at a much higher rate. Now, for every ten years we age after those prime years, our ability to burn calories decreases around 2 to 3 percent. In our twenties, we might burn, on average, 12 calories per pound on a daily basis with a moderately active lifestyle; by the age of 50, this number decreases on average by 200 calories a day. And the number continues to decrease as we age.
Fortunately, we can combat this by focusing on minor nutrition changes. Eating nutrient dense foods is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism. Proteins, particularly lean ones, like fish, white meat, legumes, and low fat dairy will work to increase your metabolism. You can also focus on your meal schedule, eating 5 to 6 smaller meals a day rather than 3 larger ones. These simple changes will make it easier for you to continue burning calories even as you age.
Even those of us who have been living healthy, active lifestyles will feel the stress of aging on our physique. A workout that used to burn hundreds of calories and leave us feeling completely refreshed when we were younger no longer seems to work as well. We try to be conscientious about it, working out more, for longer periods of time, but get frustrated with the lack of results and low energy levels. But we need to stop and think, because as we age, we should not necessarily be working out harder, just smarter.
A great workout includes a strong balance of stretching, strengthening, and cardio but it takes finding the right combination for your particular body. To begin with, muscle mass helps to burn fat. It does not matter what age you are, when you focus on strength training, or resistance training, to increase muscle mass, you are increasing metabolism and burning calories. When we add stretching into the mix, it increases the muscle’s ability to tone and strengthen. Additionally, aerobic keeps the heart healthy and helps to build large muscle groups. Combining these three groups together, will help you lose weight and stay healthy even as you age.
Weight loss can be difficult as we age but it does not have to be scary. Proper nutrition and a focus on healthy activities can help each of us to enjoy these years to the fullest extent possible.