If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ll know just how challenging it is. Not necessarily to lose some initial weight, but it’s keeping that weight off which is the most difficult aspect.
Well, you might be interested to know that weight loss only becomes more difficult as you get older.
Exactly why is this?
Well, the body likes to slow things down as it ages and with a naturally occurring decrease in muscle, it makes weight loss more difficult. Here’s some insight into exactly what happens to your body as you age and how you can guard against it.
Your body’s natural hormone balance changes as you age and depends on your gender.
As a male, testosterone keeps you slim. It not only fuels muscle growth, but it also helps you maintain a high metabolism, and maintains insulin sensitivity, which is essential to preventing excess fat storage. When testosterone levels drop, the body stores more fat, which causes most men to gain fat, especially around their mid-section, as they age.
For women, weight gain is due to a decrease in both estrogen and progesterone. However, progesterone levels decrease more quickly than estrogen levels, which causes fat tissue to form more quickly, and sometimes more uncontrollably, than it did before.
As you get older your metabolism slows down for a range of reasons. Muscle mass maintains your metabolic rate, so if you stop putting time and effort into lifting weights at the gym, you’ll lose muscle and your metabolism will slow as a result. Weight training two to three times a week will help you with this, along with a diet high in protein.
As Jason has previously discussed, yo-yo dieting causes a change in your body composition. When you go on a strict diet, you’re more likely to lose muscle, rather than fat. As soon as you come off the diet, you’re likely to regain the weight, but the weight will come back in the form of fat, not necessarily muscle.
So, in the end, you end up weighing the same, and sometimes more, but with a higher percentage of fat. Fat is much harder to lose than muscle or water weight. The next time you try to lose weight, it will be harder than before. Doing this for 20-plus years can have a negative impact on your body.
The reason you end up weighing more after coming off your diet and going back to your regular diet is because of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a neural control centre at the base of the brain, concerned with hunger, thirst, satiety, and other autonomic functions.
It sees a weight loss attempt as taking your body to an unsafe level of fat storage and therefore fires up to add more fat to your frame in the hope of avoiding that unsafe level of fat storage again. This is pretty scary if your goal in the first instance is to rid yourself of the excess fat.
Your stress levels tend to increase every year of your life as the number of responsibilities you have grows. The pressures of work, family, finances and running a household can easily build up.
When your body is under stress, it releases cortisol, a hormone meant to help improve your reaction time and keep you safe. Since most of the stress you experience in life is not the “life-or-death” kind, your body doesn’t use the cortisol. The hormone is then stored as fat. If you find a way to manage stress, you might find you can control the numbers on the scales.
There’s no better time than now
It’s pretty clear from the detail above that there’s no better time than now to lose weight. By incorporating a sustainable healthy diet and lifestyle into your daily routine, it gives you the best chance of keeping excess weight off.
The key point here is that your lifestyle is sustainable. There’s little point in starting something that is too challenging and unrealistic for example like going to the gym five times a week for 90 minutes a session.
While that might be doable at certain stages of the year, keep your goal to a more manageable three to four sessions of 45 minutes duration with a clear plan mapped out of what you’re doing each session in the hope of achieving a specific goal.
It’s helpful to add variety in too. For example, we’re having a great summer here in the UK and Ireland so try and get outside more when the weather permits by including a mountain walk or run, a park run, various different sports like football, frisbee, tennis or cycling in your weekly routine and it will mean that the thought of that 6.30am gym session isn’t such a drag.
Perhaps that goal is squatting 100 kgs over your shoulders for 10 reps, six chin ups, improve your downward dog, rowing for 3000 meters, or increasing your level on the beep fitness test, have something in mind that motivates you and keeps you coming back for more.
Here’s where Modius can help…
Our users are providing us with feedback on the types of things that Modius is helping them with. The list includes:
- Weight loss
- Improved sleep
- Curbing of the appetite
- Curbing of cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods
- More energy and increased desire to move or exercise
- Decreased levels of anxiety
Instead of sticking to your tried and true heart-healthy cardio exercises all the time, mix it up by taking a 30-60 minute circuit or boot camp class at your local gym. You could also spend some time with one of the trainers and ask them to write you a weekly program based on a one-to-one assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
You don’t necessarily need to use weights. In fact, why not try a bodyweight class like this one below?
Adding more protein to your diet
Chicken breast, lean beef, turkey breast, fish, eggs, oats, almonds, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, quinoa, milk, Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese (if you can tolerate it) are great options to get more protein into your diet.
One of my favourites is an eight-egg salmon and broccoli frittata. It’s really simple to put together.
Simply crack open your eggs and mix them (adding a little milk if you like; I prefer not to) in an oven-proof dish.
Then, just add your pre-cooked sliced salmon and broccoli to the dish, put them into the oven which has been pre-heated to 200 degrees Celsius and let it cook for 20-30 mins.
Let it cool for up to an hour and eat when you’re ready.
Eat during an 8-12 hour window
There is increasing research suggesting the 8-12 hour eating window helps your body when it comes to metabolizing your food. Have a listen to this amazing Podcast where Professor Satchin Panda talks about how our body’s circadian rhythm needs to be understood in order to be best utilised.
In numerous studies Panda conducted with two groups of mice who were fed exactly the same amount and type of food, high in fat and sugar content, the group who ate within an 8-hour window did not develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol that the group who ate their food over a longer period of the day did.
“If you align your eating time with your circadian rhythm, when your liver and gut is primed to digest your food, then you’ll have a huge health benefit,” says Professor Satchin Panda.
What it means is that, if you eat breakfast at 8am, you need to have finished your dinner, or your last meal of the day by 4-8pm in order to maximise your body’s natural circadian rhythm and prevent some chronic disease.
What’s also interesting with this is that it puts to the test the idea that you should always eat or refuel before a strenuous workout. If you work out early in the morning, do you always have a nutritious breakfast beforehand? One thing is for sure, you will definitely need one afterwards.
Eating breakfast at around 6am in the morning means that you need to have had your final meal of the day between 2pm and 6pm which is somewhat unrealistic in today’s society. However, if it works for you, then by all means, go ahead and continue.
Maintain your calorie intake
Cutting back on calories doesn’t necessarily cause weight loss. In fact, you may put on weight if you cut calories too dramatically. Or, worse, your body will begin to break down muscle for energy, which also slows down your metabolism.
Similarly, it’s important to eat regular meals. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to eat too little at the beginning of the day, and too much at night. This can also complicate your weight loss as you age.
By eating more at the start of the day, when you’re finally breaking your 12-16 hour fast, you’re giving your body the best chance of utilising the nutrients within your healthy meal for the rest of the day, as well as allowing your body time to digest the majority of your food during daylight hours. This has proven to have an impact on your all-round health.
Sleep is always important
As already mentioned above, the impact sleep can have on your daily rhythm is immense. Sleep deprivation can influence hormones that regulate hunger, meaning that even if you aren’t actually hungry, you’ll eat more.
If you sleep for less than five hours each night, ghrelin and leptin levels will rise, causing you to eat more. If you sleep for between six and eight hours, this effect is negated, and your body is better able to regulate your hormones.
Hydration is important, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. When you’re hydrated, you burn more calories. And if you drink a lot of water, you’ll feel full, helping you eat less.
The most direct way water helps increase weight loss is the way your body absorbs water. The body needs to warm or cool fluid that enters the body to 37°C before it can be utilised.
This process requires energy to either create heat (if drinking something below body temperature) or remove heat (when drinking something above body temperature). The calories required to do this are not substantial, but over time it can make a big difference.
The following example is specific to cold fluids, but the effect of hot fluids is the same though the numbers are slightly different.
You burn roughly one calorie for every ounce of water you drink, but this only counts if the water is extremely cold. If you drink a litre of ice cold water, that’s an extra 32 calories burned without doing any extra physical activity.
While it might not sound like much, if you drink only one litre of ice-cold water every day, that equates to 224 calories per week, 896 calories per month and 10,752 per year – that is equal to three pounds of fat that you will have lost (or at least not gained) by simply drinking cold water.
Although we each have varying hydration needs, it is likely that you need a lot more than just one litre of water per day (particularly if you are physically active), so these numbers could be far more impressive if you just increased your water intake alone.
There’s no silver bullet to weight loss as you age, just some solutions to help make it easier.
While it may seem difficult to lose weight, it doesn’t have to be. With some of the tips and tools we’ve mentioned above complementing your Modius use, you’re in good hands.