Middle-age weight gain may seem unavoidable. Many Americans pile on extra pounds because of lifestyle changes that occur in midlife. But you can escape the weight gain that so many of us encounter in our 40s and 50s.
People gain weight in middle age for several reasons, including:
- Changes in metabolism. After age 25, metabolism (the number of calories your body burns through the day) slows by about 5 percent a decade. If you eat as much in your 40s as you did in your 20s, you’re going to add extra pounds.
- Changes in activity level. Most middle-aged people are not as active as they were in their teens and 20s.
- Changes in body composition. As you age, muscle mass diminishes and fat increases. Since a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat, your body burns fewer calories when you’re working, playing, and even sleeping.
You can avoid midlife weight gain by making these changes:
- Adjust your portions. Many of us eat more than we should. Slowing down and enjoying your food can help you eat less. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’ve had enough.
- Modify your diet. Make simple, permanent changes to what and how much you eat. By cutting 100 calories a day, you can lose a pound a month. Eat more lean protein, fruits, and vegetables and less bread and potatoes.
- Boost your activity level. Adding physical activity to your routine can burn calories and improve muscle tone. Walk more, drive less, take the stairs, and do your own yard work.
- Rethink your workout. Walking, running, and biking are important, but strength training can counteract the loss of lean muscle that occurs as we age.
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