Is Your Weight Increasing With Age?

There are many positive benefits to aging. Adults gain more experience, earn higher incomes, and have more time for socializing. However, there are some downsides, such as aching joints and the occasional wrinkles. With every passing year, maintaining one’s weight seems more difficult. For women, the pounds seem to pack on even more. Statistics show that 36% of American adults struggle with obesity, with women impacted more than men. Weight management with age can be a struggle, but there are ways for women to keep this under control.


Why you can’t shake those pounds

Weight gain seems to creep up every year, leading to women being overweight or suffering from obesity. There are several factors contributing to poor weight management. From age 30 and beyond, a woman’s metabolism naturally slows down. Metabolism is vital to maintaining muscle mass and burning calories. Weight gain can occur if the calorie burn rate slows despite eating the same number of calories daily. As women age, activity levels also often decline. As a result, there is less muscle mass and exercise, leading to weight gain. Muscle loss, in particular, is an issue as larger muscles contribute to more active calorie burn.

Menopause and declining estrogen levels

Women also have the added issue of changing hormone levels at older stages in life. Menopause significantly reduces the production of estrogen. This hormone plays a critical role in reproductive health but can also lead to muscle loss and excess deposits of fat. Even women who are active will experience some muscle loss and weight gain over a 10-year stretch. Before menopause, women can have hormonal challenges that impact estrogen production. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism are typical examples of conditions that disrupt hormones and promote weight gain. Managing weight with age is possible with a few changes. The first step is understanding that weight gain is a natural part of aging.

Diet and exercise: The foundation of weight management

Even active individuals will experience some weight gain over time. The right mindset is critical to adopting effective lifestyle habits like diet and exercise. Reviewing one’s diet is vital in managing weight with age. On most occasions, women should strive to eat a balanced, whole-food diet with enough protein. Processed foods, sugars, and certain foods can add additional calories to an already slower metabolism. Avoid these as much as possible. A dietician can advise on the best meal combinations based on age, weight, and health challenges. Exercise combines with diet to keep the metabolism going. Weight training, in particular, builds muscle mass, balances hormones, and increases calorie burn. Consider incorporating resistance training to build a long-term foundation of health and wellness.

Sleep more, stress less

Poor sleeping habits are becoming more common among adults. Studies show that individuals with a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to have poor sleep patterns and shorter sleep duration. Sleep deprivation impacts estrogen production and increases cortisol levels. Sleep-deprived individuals are also more likely to consume high-calorie processed foods and alcohol. Sleeping at least 7 hours can help with long-term weight management. More sleep should be coupled with less stress. Stress increases cortisol levels, which triggers the body to hold onto fat for emergencies. A constant state of stress contributes to obesity. Consider strategies like self-care, journaling, meditation, supplements, and talk therapy to reduce stress levels.

Addressing your hormones

Diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction are vital but can take some time to reap benefits. This is often the case because other underlying factors contribute to weight gain. Menopause and other hormonal challenges will still impact metabolism. Speak with a doctor or hormone specialist for additional support. For instance, some women consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to boost estrogen levels around menopause. Addressing any underlying issues can flip the metabolic switch, improving weight management. Consider an annual wellness visit (AWV) to a family doctor to identify and address any diseases leading to weight gain.

A holistic approach to weight management

For men and women, managing weight becomes complicated with age. However, women are more at risk of obesity with age due to many additional factors. Metabolism slows, along with the loss of muscle mass, which contributes to obesity. Sedentary behaviors can also create conditions for weight gain. Weight management is an ongoing strategy that requires changing lifestyle habits and addressing underlying challenges. Collaboration with doctors and subject matter experts also helps. Adopting a simple, sustainable approach can help women address obesity, stay healthy, and age gracefully.