December 16th, 2021
Why is it harder to lose weight as you age?
As the body ages, cellular recovery decreases, primarily due to lower growth hormone levels in the body. As a result, your body retains less muscle and becomes programmed to store more fat.
In terms of hierarchy and survival, this makes sense; our bodies are designed to store fat so they can survive winters and long periods of not eating. While this was probably helpful hundreds of years ago, it is an inconvenient truth in our modern world.
So, how can you lessen the gap between fat loss and aging and support an aging metabolism? We’re so glad you asked.
1. Train for Your Age
First and foremost, get a proper fitness assessment that can form the basis of a customized plan, specific to you, your health, and your goals.
A balanced plan for an aging body should focus on both cardiovascular health and muscle development. Improved cardiovascular health will stimulate the production of endorphins and lower cortisol, which is a fat-storing hormone.
More muscle = a higher BMR (basal metabolic rate) and resting metabolism, which means you burn fat when you sleep and require more calories.
Working out for your health and body also activates your longevity genes. Your body realizes you are active and not an invalid, which is all the more reason to maintain a high BMR and increased muscle mass.
2. Eat for a Healthy & Lean Body
Regularly consuming poor quality food, such as high amounts of sugar and trans fats, will cause your body to feel and function poorly.
On the flip side, eating a diet rich in a variety of nutrients can help you feel and look great as you age, while minimizing fat gain. The Nielsen Fitness team always recommends consuming a diet with EPA fats, which are great for cognitive health and optimizing insulin sensitivity.
Additionally, it’s important to eat enough protein. While a younger body and metabolism can get away with quite a lot, an aging metabolism requires more effort to maintain. Low protein consumption can actually suppress the immune system and lower your metabolic rate. Meanwhile, eating a diet high in protein promotes a strong metabolism since tons of energy is required to digest and use this macronutrient.
We typically recommend a minimum of 80 grams of protein per day for males and 55 grams of protein per day for females, especially if you’re active. Generally, the best way to calculate how many grams of protein you need is by multiplying your body weight in kilograms by 0.8.
Consulting with a registered dietician can be a great way to get personalized guidance and a customized plan suited to you and your dietary needs.
3. Focus on Consistency
The key to a lean, fit, and agile body (at any age really) is deliberate and consistent action – but those actions can be small!
Little steps in the right direction compound over time and WILL get you to where you want to be. The important thing is to keep moving.
If you stop using certain muscles, your body quickly assumes you don’t need them. This often leads to muscle atrophy and fat gain – which is the opposite of what we want.
Remaining active and in motion tells your body to maintain optimal muscle mass and reduce or limit fat mass.