Fighting Middle Age Weight Gain

With the season of Easter gatherings, bridal showers, Mother’s Day brunches and graduation parties just around the corner, it’s probably time to take stock of the closet and figure out what still fits after a long winter of comfort foods and camouflaging layers.

Starting somewhere north of 40, middle aged and older adults often find that their regular diet and exercise regime is not giving the results it once did.  With hormonal changes, a sluggish metabolism and a tendency to be less active in older age, extra weight can become increasingly difficult to lose, especially around the middle.

As adults age, they can lose muscle mass and if one keeps eating the way they always have, the pounds can add up quickly.  Genetics, activity level and adequate sleep also play a role in weight gain which can cause health problems including a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

According to the Mayo Clinic, to maintain your weight over the age of 50, you may need to consume approximately 200 calories less each day than you ate in your 30s or 40s.  By eating more vegetables and fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins such as fish, nuts or legumes, you can feel full with fewer calories.  Watch what you drink as well;  sugar added to beverages can quickly ramp up your caloric intake.  Curbing sugar and alcohol are also important to keep empty calories at a minimum.

And of course, the second component of winning the battle against the mid-life spread, is to stay active.  Experts recommend adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking.  Strength training, at least twice a week, is also good idea for older adults to help maintain muscle mass and improve balance and physical function.   Because muscle burns more calories than fat, it’s important to include strength training exercises in your regular exercise program.

For detailed examples of strength exercises seniors can try at home, visit the National Institute of Health website by following this link.