Maintaining a healthy weight as you get older, for many, can seem like a never-ending battle. Although there are a few added challenges to counteracting midlife weight gain, the basic formula to healthy living actually remains the same. That is, eat healthy and move more.
But hang on…hang on!!!!
If maintaining weight is such a simple formula, why is it that research shows adults, on average, gain around half a kilogram per year across their ‘mid-life’ years?
Let’s look at what science says about the two major midlife weight gain factors: Ageing and Hormones
Hormones in both men and women start to change from the age of around thirty. These changing hormones are often the leading culprit in our weight gain, as they not only affect the distribution of our body fat (from our upper and lower body to our middle) but they also affect our body’s ability to retain and build muscle (muscle being an important factor in maintaining our metabolism).
Ageing has also been proven to be to blamed for midlife weight gain due to its effect on our lifestyle choices. Specifically, lifestyle choices involving our physical activity and food choices. As we reach our wiser years, many of us slow down when it comes to physical activity. Higher energy-burning or muscle-building sports and exercise drop away (generally due to ongoing injuries) and our jobs become far less ‘incidentally active’ (as we move up the career ladder into managerial, sedentary positions).
Food choices and habits can also change due to longer working hours, more stress at work or home and increased reliance on convenient, comfort foods and drink.
SO, whilst we can’t necessarily turn back the clock, we can optimise our healthy habits by:
Eating healthfully and mindfully
Choose whole foods with as little processing as possible. There’s simply no substitute for a balanced diet full of a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, dairy, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. Each food group is vital in providing the essential nutrients our bodies need to repair and perform.
Moderate intensity movement for 30-60 minutes per day, 4-5 days per week is optimal. But, anything is better than nothing, so just start small and build gently. Find activities you enjoy and mix it up to prevent boredom and injury. Weight training has many benefits and adding it into your routine a couple of times a week will result in body composition changes, improvements to your metabolism and will assist with good bone density.