Are We Supposed to Gain Weight as We Age?
The battle of the bulge sure seems to get a little tougher as we get older. As we reach middle-age, we find they that we can’t lose weight as easily as we did in our younger years. In order to lose weight effectively, it seems like we have to take extreme measures
Perhaps we aren’t supposed to lose weight as we age? It certainly isn’t uncommon for people in their 40s and 50s to put on some extra weight, even if their eating habits haven’t changed. A recent study showed a correlation between BMI and Alzheimer’s as well as surgical survival rates that suggests being overweight later in life may not be such a bad thing.
In this study, researchers found that people, even during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, generally had lower BMI’s. They also found that people who underwent surgery with low BMI’s had a lower survival rate than their heavier counterparts in the study.
What is BMI?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.
There are, however, some flaws in this data. Whereas this is a relatively new discovery, there are countless evidence-based studies that show a direct correlation between obesity and cardiovascular disease, which in turn causes vascular problems associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. We used to diagnose most age-related cognitive issues with the blanket term “dementia,” thought to be caused large in part by occluded blood vessels and thus, lowered cognitive function of the brain. Now, most cases of dementia are being attributed to Alzheimer’s.
What does this mean? Although slender patients with Alzheimer’s may have a more rapid decline, there is a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s if you are overweight obese prior to entering your golden years. In terms of the surgical survival rates, there’s reason to believe that the study results are slightly skewed given the frailty of the patients due to age. A slender person who is younger does not have an increased risk of post surgical death.
Ultimately, a healthy weight with a BMI under 25, yet above 18, is ideal for optimal health. That being said, let’s talk about some of the ways you can reduce your chances of gaining weight due to age.
Reasons for Age-Related Weight Gain and How to Counteract Them
Decline in physical ability
Beginning in our 30’s, we start to lose some physical ability, which in turn makes it more and more difficult to exercise as we get older. Obviously, if you aren’t as active, yet you continue with the same diet, you will likely gain weight.
The key here is to remain as active as possible for as long as possible and make sure you incorporate strength-training into your regime. Cardio is often used as a way to lose fat, but increasing lean body mass (muscle) through strength-training can make your body a fat-burning machine.
Our metabolism controls the rate at which we burn fuel; hence, a high metabolism allows you to burn more of what you consume and a low metabolism means you will store more fuel as fat. Our metabolism naturally lowers as we age.
Avoid starvation diets or very low calorie diets, both of which can reduce metabolism by up to 45%. When you go without food for awhile, your body goes into a survival mode and lowers your metabolism to preserve (store as fat) what you do consume. By doing this sort of yo-yo dieting earlier in life, you are setting yourself up for an even lower metabolism later.
Hormonal Imbalances and Changes
Menopause and hypothyroidism can both alter your hormonal balance and shift your ability to burn fat or lose weight effectively. Many women find they simply can’t lose weight after menopause. Hypothyroidism can also make it difficult to lose weight effectively.
Since nutrients are the building blocks of hormones, proper intake is essential for hormonal balance.
It may be difficult to achieve the right amount of nutrients in your daily diet to counteract hormonal changes. A good, natural extract-based supplement may be just the trick to counteract some of these age-related contributors to weight gain.
Alzheimer disease biomarkers are associated with body mass index Neurology November 22, 2011 77:1913-1920