When it comes to losing weight, age is not just a number. You might have realized that the pounds accumulate more quickly and disappear more slowly as the years go by. This is often due to changes in your hormones, metabolism, activity level, and how fat is stored in your body. While you may still feel young in your fifties, it’s undeniable that there are some physiological forces working in the background that can impact your ability to shed weight.
For example, your metabolism slows down at the rate of 1 to 2% every ten years due to an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass. While muscle is a calorie-burning tissue, fat is not metabolically active. That explains why you tend to gain weight little by little as you age despite not eating more food.
Many changes occur inside the body during the aging process that people don’t know of, and these changes can have a significant effect on our weight. We encourage people to lose the extra weight after 50 as it offers many benefits such as lowers risk of dementia and reduces joint pain.
Below are a few examples of how aging impacts our weight and some ways to tilt the scales in your favor to lose weight after 50.
Your Body No Longer Absorbs Protein As It Used To
The primary reason for weight gain after 50 is that your body no longer absorbs protein the same way.
According to researchers, our bodies’ sensitivity to protein tends to reduce as we age, which decreases its absorption. And considering that protein is essential to muscle health, it can be harder to retain your muscle mass and keep burning the same number of calories daily.
The absorption of amino acids (the protein’s building block) in the body also occurs more slowly with increasing age. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, researchers found that while amino acid levels increased within an hour of eating protein in adults between the ages of 20 and 25, it occurred after three hours in people aged 60 to 75.
Your Sleep Pattern Changes
Also, as we get older, our sleep patterns also tend to change. A lot of people realize that aging makes it more difficult for them to sleep. One may wake up frequently at night and earlier than usual in the morning.
Total sleep duration might remain the same or reduce slightly, but it might be more difficult for you to sleep, and the total amount of time you spend in bed may increase.
As one ages they tend to spend less time in deep, dreamless sleep. It is also typical as one ages to wake up about 3 to 4 times every night, and be more conscious of being awake.
One of the reasons why older people wake up more frequently is that they sleep less in deep sleep. Other possible reasons include anxiety, pain/discomfort due to long-term illnesses, or having to wake up and urinate at night (nocturia).
A lack of sleep is associated with weight gain due to many factors, such as night time eating or poor food choices the following day due to low energy levels. Additionally, the hormones that control satiety and appetite, like leptin and ghrelin, are effected buy lack of sleep causing one to feel less full and more hungry.
Your Hormone Levels Change
The decline in the levels of hormones like testosterone and estrogen also causes the body to accumulate fat in areas that are more difficult to get rid of. In women, the decrease in estrogen can result in storing more fat around the belly. This may lead to insulin resistance, which promotes weight and in addition makes losing weight more challenging.
For men, the reduction in testosterone can cause muscle loss, which lowers one’s metabolic rate.
All These Do Not Mean You Should Give Up Losing Weight After 50
1. Lift Weights
You don’t have to join a gym of bodybuilders to enjoy the numerous benefits of weightlifting. Weight training could be beneficial for middle aged people since they are most likely to lose muscle after 50. If you don’t exercise, that loss can be as high as 3-5% every ten years. A well-planned weight training program can improve your metabolism, as well as your muscle strength and function.
Strength Training After 50
It’s important for people older than 50 to perform some kind of resistance exercise regularly since the rate of muscle loss increases by approximately 100% after 50 years of life.
When done regularly, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise five days a week can raise your cardiovascular health, help regulate cholesterol and glucose, and lower body fat by burning calories.
2. Eat Enough Protein
Aside from a lack of strength training, muscle mass loss can also be due to inadequate protein consumption. One way to avoid this is by taking high-quality protein like low-fat meats and eggs, as well as high-quality nutritional supplements. According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking the same amounts of protein at every meal of the day increases muscle strength and body metabolism in people older than 50.
Consuming a higher-protein diet when trying to shed weight can help shed more fat and retain more muscle mass than a lower-protein diet. It is advised that older adults space out their protein intake during the day.
Eating 25-35 grams of protein per meal will provide the muscles with the protein they require, increase the number of calories burned every day, and help you lose weight.
3. Consume Plenty of Fluids
Studies have shown that water can assist with weight loss in many ways. Apart from lowering your appetite, it can also increase your metabolism and help you to exercise more easily and efficiently. All these could help bring down the number on the scale.
It is beneficial to increase your fluid intake during the day. A process known as thermogenesis occurs in the body whenever you drink water in order to bring the liquid to your body temperature. Because that process requires energy, drinking water helps you burn calories and boosts your metabolism. Besides, fluid intake is essential to the complex biochemical process of converting carbohydrates and protein into energy that’s used by the body.
Increasing your water intake can also increase the breakdown of fat in the body (lipolysis). Lipolysis is the process whereby the body converts fat in the adipose cells into energy. While scientists are unsure of the exact mechanism, mild hydration has been found to reduce lipolysis, probably due to changes in hormones. Some researchers also suggested that this could be due to the fact that water increases cell volume, which may impact fat metabolism.
4. Getting Adequate Sleep
A common theory regarding the connection between weight and sleep is the belief that sleep impacts appetite. Appetite is a complex process regulated by neurotransmitters, which are the body’s chemical messengers that enable nerve cells (neurons) to interact with one another.
Leptin and ghrelin are the two neurotransmitters that help control our appetite. While ghrelin promotes the feeling of hunger, leptin makes us feel full. The levels of these neurotransmitters vary in the body during the day, telling us that we need to take calories.
Inadequate sleep can affect the regulation of these neurotransmitters in the body.
A study found that men who slept for 4 hours had higher ghrelin and lower leptin levels than those who slept for 10 hours. This dis-regulation of leptin and ghrelin can increase appetite and reduce the feelings of fullness in those who don’t have enough sleep.
Moreover, a lot of studies have also suggested that inadequate sleep influences our food choices. People who are sleep-deprived tend to choose foods that contain a high amount of carbohydrates and calories.
Plus, when you don’t have enough sleep, you will have less energy for physical activity and exercise, which can affect your weight.
Weight management becomes a bit cumbersome as we get old. That is why we should be even more careful about our diet, nutrition and leading a healthy lifestyle in our late middle years. We hope the above discussion helps you in losing your weight after 50 and live a happy, healthy life.
If you have more questions regarding shedding those extra pounds, set up a Free 15 minute consultation with our amazing coaches.