The Difficulty Older People Have Maintaining A Health Weight

It is possible to lose weight at any age. However, there are several factors that make it harder to lose weight as we get older.

Health researchers believe that people who remain active lose muscle mass every decade starting in their 30s, replacing it with fat. Muscles use up more calories than fat, so less muscle results in a slower metabolism and the need for fewer calories, notes Dr. Medha Munshi, a geriatrician and endocrinologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Declining levels of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, which usually start around the early 50s for women, with the onset of menopause, and a bit for men, compound the effect, states Dr. Munshi, director of the Joslin Diabetes Center’s Geriatric Diabetes Program.

The Truth About Diet & Exercise For People Over 40

People may also pay in late-middle age for weight they gained and lost in earlier years, states Dr. Leslie Cho, an Interventional Cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center. Weight gain changes metabolism, she said. A 60 -year-old who now weighs 200 pounds but once weighed 300, for example, will require far fewer calories per day than someone of the same age and size who was never so overweight. Reducing those fat cells, she believes, tricks the body into thinking it is starving and needs to hold on more tightly to calories consumed. “You do have to eat less to maintain that weight if you’ve been heavier,” says Dr. Cho.

Older people, too, tend to have more aches and pains and are more sedentary, participating in fewer physical activities.

Instead of obsessing about a number on a scale, Dr. Cho believes that older should people focus on general fitness. “It’s not about losing weight,” she says.”It’s about maintaining weight loss, and about healthy eating and lifestyle.”

How To Overcome The Diet & Exercise Cycle Of Failure

Adding muscle through weight training can also assist in speeding up your metabolism, or at least offset somewhat for its decline, Dr. Munshi reports. She tells her older patients that “you need it now more than you needed it at 25.” Eating more protein – but not more calories – may also help build or maintain muscle, she states. And, she also points out that many of her oldest patients end up underweight because they’ve lost their appetite along with their sense of smell, so food doesn’t seem appealing anymore.

 

Ed ForteauEd Forteau is a former marketing liaison and medical researcher for Janssen Pharmaceutica (a division of Johnson & Johnson). He is also the host of Power Up Your Health, a nationally syndicated radio show which aired on the CBS Sports Radio Network.

 

 

Original article from the New York Times:
https://www.nytimes.com

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