Why is it Harder to Manage Our Weight As We Age?

Managing weight as we age

Getting older comes with its own set of challenges, but did you know that weight management can be one of them?

Dr. Robert Kushner, Director of the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medicine Center in Chicago and author of “Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You,” recently covered this topic in an article on Today.com. Dr. Kushner is also a volunteer and medical expert for the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.

According to Dr. Kushner, the total amount of calories we burn every day decreases with age. Our metabolisms also slow down as we get older, in part because aging contributes to reduced muscle mass. Plus, many people are less physically active as they get older, which isn’t helped by the fact that muscles, tendons and joints tend to lose some of their flexibility over time.

All of these factors can make it increasingly difficult to lose weight as we age, especially after 40. “If these biological changes are not met with a corresponding reduction in dietary calories, we will experience a slow and steady increase in our body weight,” says Dr. Kushner.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to lose weight or reach your health goals once you’ve peeked over the ’40’ mark. Here are some tips to help you stay in control.

Make Adjustments to Your Diet

Instead of limiting or cutting out certain kinds of foods (cookies, high-fat meats, fried foods, etc.), eat more nutritious foods that will help you stay full and satisfied. These include vegetables, fruits, and lower-fat protein sources like lean meats and Greek yogurt. Also, be cautious of your starch intake and portion sizes. If you struggle to keep track of your diet, try journaling your food choices and intake. You may start to see patterns emerge that you want to change, and a food journal can help you figure out where to make adjustments.

Find New Ways to Stay Moving

Try to reduce the amount of time you spend doing sedentary activities such as watching TV or scrolling through social media. Instead, use that extra time to find new ways to stay moving. Even active daily activities are a good place to start – i.e. walking, house cleaning and yard work. It’s also important to incorporate resistance-based movements and workouts into your routine to boost your metabolism and maintain muscle mass which tends to dwindle with age.

Find Healthy Outlets for Stress

Prolonged stress can wreak havoc on the body, including your production of cortisol and the way your body stores fat. Rather than deal with stress by looking to food, alcohol or other unhealthy coping mechanisms, try mediation, deep breathing and setting aside more time for rest. Click here for additional ways to tame stress and relax more.

Focus on Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep deprivation can increase food cravings, ramp up your appetite and leave you feeling fatigued. The basic tenants of good sleep hygiene include a consistent bedtime and wake time, avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bed, limiting your screen time at night, and doing rest-promoting activities before bed such as reading a book or meditating.

See a Healthcare Provider

A healthcare provider can help you navigate options for weight management and provide personalized tips based on your unique needs. They will also check for any health issues that could be affecting your weight, such as hormone or thyroid disorders. For help finding a trusted healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about weight management, click here to check out the Obesity Action Coalition’s provider locator.

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