Fri, 28 Jul, 2017Melody Teh

The real reason you gain weight as you get older

The real reason you gain weight as you get older

Many of us have experienced first-hand how easily the kilos pile on as the years fly – but there’s a reason why we tend to gain weight as we age. And it has nothing to do with your eating habits.

Dr. Caroline Apovian, the Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and the vice-president of The Obesity Society told Good Housekeeping there are a variety of reasons behind weight gain in older age.

The reasons range from a change in hormones, a more sedentary lifestyle, increase in stress and decrease in sleep.

"But a major reason for middle aged weight gain is the natural muscle loss we all experience," Dr. Apovian, says.

"The amount of lean muscle mass we have is the primary determinant of metabolic rate. In other words, the more muscle mass we have, the more calories we will burn. Our muscle mass naturally begins to decline around age 30, and that process, called sarcopenia, accelerates around age 40. Unless something is done to actively protect and build up that lean muscle mass, our bodies will require fewer calories, our metabolisms will slow, and the lost muscle will be replaced by fat."

Here’s what you can do to prevent sarcopenia.

  1. "Exercise with weights at least twice per week, building up in both weight and intensity as you progress," Dr. Apovian says. Try these weight training exercises you can do at home.
  2. "Get plenty of sleep - amongst other health benefits, this gives the body time to repair and rebuild the muscles." If you’re a poor sleeper, these expert tips will help you sleep better tonight.
  3. "Eat a diet rich in lean protein sources." For ideas, read a doctor’s tips for eating healthy as you age.