Why do we gain weight as we get older? By Tony DeFrancisco

Remember those good old days when we were teenagers, could go out put down a huge burger or two or three, fries and a malt and never gain a pound? Wasn’t that wonderful? But now we merely smell a french fry and we gain 3 pounds! OMG. What happened?

Let’s take a look at why this happens. First off, when we are younger, we are more active. We are young and having fun. We engage in sports, football, basketball, wrestling, track & field or baseball. Then we swim and go to dances. We’re moving a lot more.

Also, at this young age our hormones are producing at the maximum which induces burning calories. Life is good. Everything is wonderful. We are free, having fun and looking good. At least many of us anyway.

For me, I had to fight obesity all my life. Even when I only weighed 100 lbs I was flabby. Small and flabby. Some people do have an issue with overweight even in their younger years. Most do not.

Moving along, we go to college. Life is more serious now. We are getting close to moving out into the working world. So now there are frat parties and weekend flings. And this is when most of us start to gain weight.

Welcome to your freshman year

The scale creep for this decade actually begins in your late teens. For the millions of new students heading off to college in the U.S., the dining hall is one of the first sources of significant weight gain. Many students do not have any understanding of food, nutrition, and cooking, and yet they have an array of wonderful foods to choose from at a college dining hall, So many choices and many times, the wrong choices.

And then in addition to cafeterias, many campuses have separate on-site eateries, vending machines, and snack bars (not to mention the alcohol) that “help” you gain the infamous freshman (or sophomore/junior/senior) 15.

And then we hit the fast food places after school. Easy and convenient. ALSO fattening, high calorie, high fat and low nutrition.

This continues to graduation. Now it’s on to the real world and your first job.

You move less

For many young people, this decade ushers in their very first nine-to-five job. While not all jobs require sitting at a desk all day, most do. In fact, the number of sedentary jobs has increased 83 percent since the 1950s, and work weeks often last longer than the typical 40 hours, as technology continues to blur the line between work and non-work hours.

In your teens, as mentioned above, you probably spent your free time playing sports or doing some kind of physical activity. But with 40+ hours per week parked at a desk, there’s probably a major drop in your daily activity level — even if you do manage to get a workout or two in during the week. You probably say, “Hey, I am an adult now. I have responsibilites. I don’t have time to workout.”

Life is good. You are enjoying your new life. Your 9-5 job. You have a sedentary desk job. Probaly take the elevator and park as close to your office as possible. The pounds are starting to pile on, but you hardly notice. And you probably say, “No problem, I can always lose it on my own.” (Yeah right!)

Life happens

Adulting is hard. Living on your own, paying bills, and other responsibilities that you’ve never had to deal with before are now part of your daily routine. Newfound independence can trigger major stress, another notable culprit when to comes to gaining weight.

“In your 20s, the main culprit to weight gain is stress, which causes high cortisol, one of your body’s key fat-storage hormones,” says Dr. Sara Gottfried, bestselling author of “The Hormone Cure” and “The Hormone Reset Diet.”

Cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, can wreak havoc on our bodies, she adds. Help reset your cortisol levels by weaning yourself off alcohol for three days, which can help your sleep and stress levels, Gottfried suggests.

Lack of sleep

Speaking of, everyone needs more sleep, period. But this is when the lack of it begins to have a serious impact on your life and health as a whole.

Sleep goes hand in hand with weight maintenance for a number of reasons. First off, plenty of quality sleep can help you power through tough workouts. Lack of sleep can decrease your endurance, which can make it harder to give it your all.

Not racking up enough zzs can mess with your hunger hormones, which can lead to weight gain — even if you eat clean and work out regularly. Your stomach produces ghrelin, a hormone that tells the brain we’re hungry, and production of ghrelin can ramp up when we’re continually not getting enough sleep. In addition, your body may ramp up cortisol production if you don’t get enough sleep.

If you’re having trouble getting quality sleep, try some natural remedies before you reach for the quick-fix over-the-counter stuff.

TIP: We have all heard of drink a warm glass of milk before bedtime. Our mothers taught us this. That or a hot cup of cocoa helps. I have found that drinking a protein shake before bedtime relaxes me and also provides me with nutrition which nourishes my body all night long and I sleep like a baby. Try it. Much better than OTC stuff that is harmful to your health.

Bad diet

Feeding yourself is also part of your new adulting role. But at this point in your life, you may not have a ton of healthy recipes or proper nutrition information under your belt. And with an endless array of food-delivery services at your fingertips, it’s easy for your eating habits to run amok.

Tips to maintain your weight in your 20s:

  • Try to make cheesy fries, chips, and pizza the occasional treat, not on the reg.
  • Ditch coffee after 12 p.m. or if you’re legally drinking alcohol, ahem, then try taking a break for a few days.
  • Stick to a regular bedtime and skip screen time in the bedroom.
  • Learn how to cook and prep balanced meals in proper portions and pack your own lunch to bring to work to stay on track.
  • Eat more high protein foods like lean meats, fish and fowl. Also add a protein shake. To keep weight under control, replace one or two meals per day with a quality meal replacement, high protein, nutritional shake.

Why You Gain Weight In Your 30s

You start to lose muscle and gain fat

In your 30s, you start to lose lean tissue. While muscle decline may not be noticeable at first, the average person loses around five pounds of muscle every decade after 30, according to Gottfried. At the same time, body fat creeps up steadily after you hit the big 3-0.

Your hormones start to change

In terms of hormonal changes, women face “estrogen dominance” during this decade, which means they have more estrogen than progesterone.

“One reason estrogen dominance is connected to fat-loss resistance is because of the cross-talk between two important hormones of metabolism: insulin and estrogen,” Gottfried says. This increase in estrogen may cause you to gain more total body fat and abdominal fat.

You have kids

“As young parents raise their children in sometimes chaotic homes with many activities and needs, regular mealtimes and home-cooked meals may be in short supply,” Roy says. Even the most well-intentioned families can default to fast food between soccer practice, play dates, homework, and piano lessons.

But convenience meals — fast food, take-out, pre-packaged meals — are usually highly processed and filled with fat, sodium, and/or sugar.

If you are cooking at home, then you may be fighting a losing battle against a small (literally) army of picky eaters or a partner who isn’t that concerned about weight loss.

Tips to maintain your weight in your 30s:

  • Planning healthy recipes ahead of time and get your meal prep on point.
  • Plan active family outings like post-dinner walks, weekend hikes, and bike rides.
  • Kill two birds with one stone by doing fitness + nutrition programs that help you build muscle, burn fat and get your diet and nutrition in order
  • Include resistance (weight) training to build and increase lean tissue
  • Lean tissue burns calories even at rest. When you lose lean tissue, fat storage increases
  • If you don’t have time to join a gym, freehand exercises are a great alternative
  • Consider setting up an inexpensive home gym with basics, barbells, dumbells, weight bench, pulley, leg machine and chinning bar. This can be acquired very inexpensively.
  • Cut down or totally eliminate eating at fast food places.
  • Consider meal replacement shakes and supplements.

Why You Gain Weight In Your 40s

Women may enter menopause

For women, this decade may include a major life change: menopause. While everyone is different, women experience menopause between 40 and 58 years old (though some women can experience it as early as their 30s or as late as their 60s).

Hormonal changes brought on by menopause can add extra weight around the midsection. In addition, irritability, hot flashes, and other symptoms of menopause may have you feeling a whole lot less motivated to work out.

Testosterone declines

While men and women both produce testosterone, a decline in this hormone is a factor in age-related weight-gain for men. This decline occurs gradually from ages 40 to 65, according to Gottfried. Lower testosterone can increase fat levels, reduce strength, and negatively affect sleep.

Tips to maintain your weight in your 40s:

  • Plan ahead by laying out your workout clothes the night before. Or stash them in your car so you can workout after work, or wake up a little earlier to squeeze in a home workout.
  • Prioritize sleep to help keep cortisol in check.
  • Increase resistance training to help bump up testosterone levels, recommends Gottfried.
  • Try to workout with weights at least 3-4 times per week
  • Follow a split routine, working half your body one day, the other half the next.
  • Keep your body nourished with hi protein foods, shakes and supplements.

Resistance training enables you to build more lean tissue and stimulate the natural hormones within your body even when in your 40s, 50s and beyond.

Why You Gain Weight In Your 50s and Beyond

Insulin resistance can go down the drain

“Once you hit 50, low testosterone, plus rising blood sugar and insulin levels cause weight gain,” Gottfried says. If you have insulin resistance, that means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose the body generates from the food you eat. Consequently, the liver converts that glucose into fat, which can lead to weight gain.

Your body may not work like it used to

Physical limitations — from osteoporosis and arthritis to hip, knee, and other joint problems— can limit movement, Roy says. While some age-related conditions won’t make it impossible to get in a good workout, achy joints can make it harder to run, jump, or lift like you used to.

Weight gain can turn into weight loss

Men often gain weight until they’re around 55 and then start to lose weight as they age further. Women, on the other hand, tend to gain weight until they turn 65. This shift from weight gain to loss usually happens because fat replaces lean muscle tissue, and muscle weighs more than fat by volume.

This being said, don’t just follow your scale. While some men may find their weight normalizing, check the mirror and you may see something else happening. Handlebars on the sides of the waist and around the lower back. Sagging pectorals, flab around the arms and other areas.

Same happens with women.

Tips to maintain your weight in your 50s and beyond:

  • If you’re unable to be as active as you were in your 30s and 40s, adjust your meal portions to avoid overeating.
  • Continue to do resistance training to help keep your bones strong, and eat plenty of high-quality protein.
  • Continue to manage stress — yoga, meditate, practice breathing exercises, take long baths — whatever helps you relax.
  • Feeling creaky? Focus on low-impact workouts and other types of exercise that are easier on your joints.
  • Great cardio at this point in your life is walking or running on the treadmill, cycling on the lifecyle, using the stairstepper, swimming or even just brisk walking for at least 20 minutes non stop.
  • Continue the weight training. Should be lower intensity, higher reps.Work the large body parts especially, legs, hips, chest/bust, stomach as well as the whole body.
  • While you can’t spot reduce, specializing on certain trouble areas when combined with dieting, cardio and working the whole body will tone up those problem areas.

The Good News

Gaining weight as you get older isn’t inevitable; everyone’s body is different and you may not experience all of the factors mentioned above. While your activity levels, hormones, and body composition do change with age, a consistently healthy lifestyle — balanced diet and regular exercise — can help keep your weight under control. “Aging can be beautiful, healthy, and strong,” says Gottfried.

A misconception is that when we get older, we should stop exercising. This is when we need it more than ever.

Other factors

Some other issues are that as we age, we accumulate more and more undigested foods, especially meat in our colons. It has been estimated that a 40 year old has anywhere from 7 to 25 lbs of undigested foods lodged in their colons and digestive tracts. That pot belly is very often foods we ate a very long time ago that never left us. Imagine keeping food in your refridgerator for 25 years or more. What would that be like?

Aside from the obvious, undigested foods blocks your body from assimilating nutritients from the foods we eat. Therefore the body sends out a signal that says, “I’m still hungry.” So we eat more.

We also accumulate candida albacans in our systems. These little rascals force us to crave sweets. It gets worse as we age.

Most of our protein comes from high calorie, high fat meats. Too many calories. Too much fat.

Tips:

Include more soluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber has more of a cleansing affect than ordinary fiber foods. Use a good herbal supplement that cleanses the colon and entire digestive tract. This will eliminate stored meats, particles of other foods and canadida albacans.

To get more quality protein, eat lean meats, and fish and use a good protein shake derived from whey that contains the essential amino acids in the right balance. PLUS vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, herbs, and digestants.

Tony DeFrancisco is a wellness coach with First Fitness Nutrition. He has been in the health & fitness field since 1964 when he started lifting weights, taking nutritional supplements and eating right to build himself up. In the 1970s, he competed in powerlfting competitions, entering 100 competitions and winning 80 first places, 30 best lifter awards.

In 1976, he began his career as a weight control consultant/wellness coach and since has counseled with and helped over 3,000 clients.

In the late 1970s, he owned two health clubs in Central Pa. and was a consultant for the then Jack LaLanne/European Health Spas in Reading, Pa.

Tony also promoted numerous bodybuilding, powerlifting and fitness competitions. Bring famous celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenneggar and Lou Ferrigno ao appear.

Over the years, Tony has written numerous articles for local newspapers and national magazines like Iron Man and Muscle Digest.

Tony is currently 66 years old and still works out regularly. He can be reached at tonydefrancisco14@gmail.com (407) 761-3055 Website is http://www.superfitness.firstfitness.com

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