We tend to think that gaining weight is something that happens with ageing, but this isn’t the case. It is, however, really important to monitor your body composition as you get older, to avoid putting yourself at risk of things like diabetes and other types of metabolic conditions. Here are four things you can do to avoid gaining weight into your 40s.
Monitor your energy balance (calories in versus calories burned from exercise). If you have less energy being expended, then you need to monitor and reduce the amount of energy that’s going into the body. Take a look at your food consumption and ensure that you’re not eating the diet that you were still eating when you were much more active. Also, try to include the following:
- More daily life movement – This could include taking the stairs not the escalator or walking 10,000 steps a day.
- Moderate exercise – Combine more daily movement with moderate exercise three to five times a week e.g. a light jog or lots of brisk walking.
- High intensity exercise – Ideally a couple of times a week; you want to get your heart rate up, get yourself out of breath where conversation would be tricky to have whilst you’re doing it.
Your metabolism slows down as you get older, so it’s important, to review your diet. Specifically, eating fewer refined carbohydrates and processed foods, and increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables. Also monitor portion control, putting slightly less on your plate for less active days.
Typically we tend to feel more stress as we get older, perhaps because we have mortgages, kids, more senior or stressful jobs, less leisure time, and we possibly have ageing parents and more dependants. An increase in stress produces more of the hormone cortisol, and can result in two things. It can cause us to overeat, and increased cortisol levels in the body can instruct the liver to release glucose. This in turn puts us in the state where we’ve got lots of glucose in the blood and that’s not a healthy thing.
Therefore, managing stress is important. You can do this through meditation and mindfulness, making sure you get the right amount of sleep and exercise (the appropriate type and intensity). Also, prioritise ways of recovering after exercise and incorporating some relaxation; meditation is one example, along with reading.
Finally, particularly for women who are reading this, as women hit their 40s, they can potentially start to move into the perimenopausal stage. At this stage our oestrogen levels drop, which means that the body has a propensity towards storing fat, which could result in weight gain. Progesterone levels also dip, and that can cause bloating and water retention. Also, our insulin sensitivity increases which is why it’s so important to monitor diet as you could be in a state where you have high levels of insulin, which can cause weight gain.
This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of SE22 magazine.