I can’t be alone in my belief that you wake up one morning after the age of 40 and suddenly you are 10 or 15 pounds heavier!!
It may feel like it happened overnight, but this weight has been creeping on in a natural, gradual process. You’ll also, like me, be devastated to see that it is all sitting on your belly! The same belly you have been struggling for years to keep ‘wash-board’ flat. And to make matters worse, you now seem incapable of dieting effectively!
When we were young, we barely spent any time thinking about preparing your body for the future. In our teens and twenties, we were in peak condition and up for a bit of exercising. Fast forward a decade or two and if you hadn’t started exercising, you probably wish you had. Weight gain in our 40’s is something everyone should be aware of.
So, What Happens as We Get Older?
Our bodies undergo so many changes during our later years: hormonal changes, metabolism slows down and if we're not exercising then our muscles start to decrease too.
If your scales are kind to you and you don’t physically gain weight, you may still gain inches around the waist. This weight gain can be so frustrating, it's easy to become obsessed with losing it, and start the process of starving yourself. Never a great idea!
So, is there anything we can do to prevent us gaining weight after 40? Well actually yes, there is! Learn a little more about your body! The more we know what's going on, the easier it is to find some acceptance for what's happening.
Why We Gain Weight After 40
The contributing factors to weight gain are:
Hormones: This process starts around the mid-30s and carries on into our 40s.
This change in hormones, less oestrogen for women and less testosterone for men, cause the fat in our bodies fat to shift to the middle of the body while abandoning other areas of the body you could care less about. That's one reason you may get a little fluffier around the middle while other parts of you actually get smaller.
Genetics! This is something we can't change and, if you look at your parents and relatives, you'll see those areas where your family may tend to store excess fat.
Lower Metabolism: There are a couple of things that happen to your metabolism after the age of 40. First, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) decreases and, second, you expend less total energy (TEE) during exercise. Some experts suggest metabolism can decrease by about 5% for every decade after 40, which means you need about 60-100 fewer calories every 10 years.
If you sit more, eat more, exercise less and deal with more stress throughout that decade, you'll probably need even fewer calories than that. Add that to the fact that you burn fewer calories during exercise and you've got yourself an equation for weight gain.
Loss of Muscle: Like our metabolisms, we also start to lose muscle when we hit our 40s, experiencing a steady decline each decade. Part of this, scientists believe, is that the motor units that make up our muscles decline as we age and that those motor units don't always fire with the same regularity.
However, the important takeaway here is this: The biggest factor in losing muscle is the lack of physical activity, which makes exercise a crucial component when it comes to preventing muscle loss.