By Martin Ebner
How great would it be to be a kid again!? Scoffing your face with copious amounts of junk food without a care in the world. I can only presume if you’re taking the time to read this article, you are no longer in the so called “prime of your life”. Fear not, you’re not alone!
As a personal trainer, one thing my clients all have in common is the real life struggle to stay lean as they age past 30. Confused and frustrated that despite their best efforts to exercise regularly and eat right, losing weight and keeping trim is not as straightforward as in once was.
The sad truth is, as we age, our metabolism slows causing for most a slow but very frustrating increase in body fat and less capacity to lose it. Along with a decelerating metabolism, energy levels decrease and with that, the ability to exercise as frequently and intensely as we could in our teens and twenties. The less active we become the more likely we are to lose muscle mass. This directly affects our BMR (Basal metabolic rate) - the amount of energy (in the form of calories) that the body needs to function. Unfortunately, as muscle mass decreases as does the body’s natural calorie-burning ability. Weight management is based on calorie requirements and if you exercise less frequently and at a lower intensity, your calorie requirements should be relative to your current activity level, not that of your 18-year-old self.
Despite what seems like an inevitable plunge into plumpness, there are steps that can be taken to prevent or at the very least pump the breaks on a slowing metabolism and weight gain.
It’s essential as we age to remain active. While many people assume that man-boobs and bingo-wings are all but inevitable as we become older, they certainly don’t have to be. It’s imperative to not only your waist line to stay active but to your energy levels, well-being and longevity too.
One of the best things you can do to keep your metabolism revved up as you age is to weight train (at least a couple of times a week).
As we age, there is a natural decline in the body’s production of hormones (Estrogen, testosterone and human growth hormone) which can result in a decrease of muscle mass. Weight training can reverse these effects and even help build new muscle.
Muscle cells burn much more calories than fat cells do, therefore it pays dividends to your waistline to regularly incorporate weight training into your exercise plan.
Along with weight training, it’s vital to eat adequate amounts of protein. Protein is the building block for muscle and repair and without it, your body doesn’t stand a fighting chance of building or evening holding onto what muscle mass remains.
Remember the more muscle you have, the faster your Basal metabolic rate will be. This means your body’s ability to burn calories when resting is elevated. Not so fast man boobs and bingo wings!
Reduce your calories according to age and energy expenditure
If you continue to exercise regularly you shouldn’t have to adjust your calorie consumption too much. Your body’s ability to burn calories doesn’t slow overnight, despite it feeling that way. This means that as you age, with regular exercise, you shouldn’t have to reduce your daily calorie consumption by more than 200 calories for every decade.
An average 20-year-old man requires around 2500 calories per day to maintain body weight (500 calories less for women). This means that men in their 30s should aim to consume no more than 2300 and women, 1800 calories. For every decade, reduce this figure by 200 calories.
Weight gain and ageing don’t have to go hand in hand unless of course, you want them to! With a few conscious changes to your diet and exercise plan, you too can age healthy, happy and weigh-gain-free!