Ageing is a slow process, and losing weight as you grow older is even more slower !
Gone are the days when you could eat what you wanted and still managed to stay slim. A younger body has a higher metabolic rate, which makes it easier to burn fat with the right diet and a little bit of exercise. However, once you cross the 35 years mark, shedding weight becomes an uphill task.
How does ageing affect our body?
The human body comprises of water, bones, muscles, organs and fat. Muscles and organs, are collectively called as lean tissues. As you grow older, you experience ‘Atrophy’ – a process of losing the lean tissues in your body, by the way of cell degeneration.
The growth hormone levels are reduced, which further deteriorates the muscle strength and the muscle mass, and along with the decrease in the bone density (also called as ‘Osteoporosis’), they cause stiffness to the joints, thereby, reducing the overall mobility. Water retention by the body also drops drastically.
The situation worsens with every passing year. Since the metabolism is low, accumulation of fat increases and leads to several health conditions like Coronary heart disease, High blood pressure, Diabetes-2, Osteoarthritis, Obesity hypo-ventilation syndrome, Gallstones etc.
What are the causes of weight gain ?
Weight gain happens due to several reasons:
- Lack of physical activity – Ageing makes it difficult to take any physical strain. While some may be inactive due to health limitations, most people simply assume that they are old and avoid doing any activity at all.
- Calorie intake – Like we said earlier, ageing lowers the metabolism and restricts the physical activities. If you don’t keep a check on your calorie count, not only you gain weight, but you are also making it difficult to lose it in future.
- Stress – More responsibilities as you age means more stress. When you are in stress, a hormone called Cortisol is released by the body, to level you out in case of extreme conditions.
Now since the severity of stress in our daily lives is low most of the time, this hormone doesn’t get used and ends up being stored as fat !
- Hormonal Changes – Known to alter the mood of a person, hormonal changes also shift the fat storage to the abdomen, leading to poor diet and inactivity.
- Genetics – Blame it on the genes. If the tough fat runs in your family, excess weight is likely to stick to you.
- Certain Medical Conditions – Hypothyroid, Fungal overgrowth, Insulin resistance, just to name a few, are all associated to weight gain.
How do you shed weight ?
Losing weight is a challenging task for everyone irrespective of their age and gender. But if you step into a routine and follow it religiously, nothing really is impossible. It is important to make the necessary changes to your current lifestyle, if it’s no longer keeping you in shape – as you age.
Having said that, there is no best way to lose weight. What works for you may not work for the other. So you need to make a plan according to your body type, need, and lifestyle. There are many programs available on Internet. But, make sure to find the best one. You can always approach a professional for guidance. While they may suggest some variations in your regime, the basic thumb rule of losing as well as maintaining weight, remains the same.
Keep a tab of your calorie count
Counting the calories and cutting wherever needed is a practical approach to weight loss.
Whatever you eat, should be well balanced and nutritional and just enough to get you through the day. Anything extra is capable of turning into fat deposit. Check your required calorie intake with your dietician.
Food can be categorized as high, low or empty calorie food, based on the amount of energy they generate, relative to their portion size.
Oils, butter, fried foods, sugary sweets are all high calorie food that are considered unhealthy and should be consumed in smaller quantities, while olive oils, whole grains, avocados, dry fruits are the healthier options of high calorie food. Fruits and vegetables are low on calories, while empty calorie food have little or no nutrient value at all, like -processed meat, junk food, candies etc.
It is a simple fact – ‘eat less calories than you burn’.If you are eating more calories than necessary, you will need to change your behavior.
Choose the right food at the right time
As you grow older, always aim to eat healthy and at the proper times.
A calorie light diet can improve your metabolism, so you need to incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables. In fact, you should replace 2/3rd of your meals with assorted fruits and vegetables and take up to 4-6 servings per day. They are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but they are also high on fiber needed for good digestion.
Include more high-protein foods like beans, lentils, egg whites, soy, nuts and seeds products, non-fat dairy foods, fish and lean meat into your meals. This will help in retaining and strengthening your ‘aging muscles’.
Some foods are also called as super-foods that can directly help you burn calories. While most of them are rich in fat burning agents, some are loaded with antioxidants for immunity building, and some foods have high satiety index, which means you tend to stay full for a longer time (making you eat less).
Never skip a meal, as it will only make you hungrier. Small but healthy snacking between the meals can drastically reduce your meal’s portion size. Opt for vegetable soup, fruits, nuts, low fat cheese, instead of chips, cookies, fries etc.
Eating more during the morning hours is better since you prepare your body for the day and need energy. One should opt for a moderate lunch followed by a very light dinner, as the metabolic rate decreases during the nights, leading to inevitable weight gain.
Drink plenty of water and natural fruit juices for proper hydration and a great digestive system. Avoid alcohol, sodas or energy drinks, as they are nothing but empty calories.
Be physically active and take ample rest
An hour of brisk walking, jogging or yoga can burn those unused calories and keep a check on body cholesterol and the blood sugar levels. It also helps in making your body flexible, agile and builds up stamina, thereby making you stay lean and fit.
Many women tend to gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. Nine months of carrying a baby in their wombs and nourishing it, takes a toll on their own health. Trying to get back in shape post delivery with a baby in their arms can get challenging.
And the longer you wait, the more stubborn the fat becomes, making it more difficult to get rid of. So it becomes imperative to start the work-out sessions as soon as you can. Do whatever is possible – climb the stairs, go for long walks, play a sport etc. Just be physically active and keep moving around!
Going out in the sun may look a little tedious but it is important to retain that vitamin D and sunshine. Moreover, it helps you to stay agile and active, keeping your weight under check. If you are concerned of sun burn or ocular diseases, then it’s always good to have protection with sun glasses. Always make sure to keep the glasses clean to avoid any optical issues.
Putting your mind at rest and getting 7-8 hours of sleep is equally important as it reduces the midnight snack cravings, increases the metabolic rate and boosts fat loss. It also makes your mind to stay more focused and calm.
Right diet and exercise habits play a significant role in a person’s weight changes during their lifetime. As you grow older, the immunity level drops and you become more weak and susceptible to all kind of diseases and ailments. Losing weight and maintaining an active lifestyle goes a long way in keeping you healthy and happy during those vulnerable years.
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(Last Updated On: 19th March 2019)