As we get older we gain weight & weight loss becomes more difficult.
Generally this effects women more than men but it is all us.
If we don’t change our habits, starting in our 40’s and especially when we get over 50, we all start getting a little rounder.
But fear not, you won’t have to starve yourself or work out until the wee hours.
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How come we gain weight as we get older?
You may have noticed that if you eat the same things when you’re 50 as you did when you were 20, you start to gain weight.
You might be less active, but you really can’t blame it on that.
And if you started being just as active as you were at 20, it would hurt…a lot.
I can tell you this from personal experience.
So what gives here???
What changes as we pass the four and five decade marks?
I don’t want to over simplify this, but it’s the hormones.
Stress, lack of sleep, less exercise and yes good ol’ fashioned aging change the balance of our hormones, and that changes what our bodies do with the food we eat.
Our metabolisms don’t slow down as much they change focus.
Calories are directed into storage – as fat – and less calories are going to energy, structural maintenance and muscle building.
Yup, this getting older is not for the faint of heart – but fear not – you can get back in balance if you help your body a little.
Why Most Diets Don’t Work for Weight loss
Want to know why diets don’t work?
Part of the reason is that most “diets” just suck. They are torture from hunger and bad, low fat food.
Most diets work like this:
Starve yourself until you get to eat some low calorie, low fat thing that has all the taste of the box it came in. Then 20 minutes later, you’re even hungrier.
And you tolerate this until you can’t stand it any more.
Then you get on the scale and see that you lost 1 pound. It sucks!
That’s not sustainable – it never has been.
Most of the diets that you’ve seen since the 1960’s have two huge flaws:
First, They think the calories-in-calories-out model works. This sort of works…but not the way that you think. Low fat, low calories is not sustainable.
And second, They don’t address hormones – especially insulin. Hormones determine what is burned – fat or sugar, and hormones control weather you’re hungry or not.
There are two ways that you can burn fat to fuel your body, but only one that will burn significant body fat.
The word actually means “make new sugar.”
Your body needs to maintain a small amount of blood sugar because there are some brain functions that can only be fueled with glucose (blood sugar). So if you don’t eat any carbs/sugar, your body will make it’s own by breaking down protein, or fat molecules and changing them into sugar.
There’s a lot of science-y stuff and you can read all about it clicking on the link above, but the bottom line here is the only time your body makes glucose out of fat is when your blood sugar and insulin are very low.
Low (fasting) levels of blood sugar and insulin will also trigger ketosis.
This is the main pathway for fat burning.
When your blood sugar (glucose) and insulin are at fasting levels, fat cells start releasing triglycerides into your blood, and those are picked up by your liver and broken down into Ketones which are then circulated so all of your cells can use them for energy.
Most people’s blood sugar and insulin get this low while they are sleeping, depending on how much glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver. You may be burning fat for an hour or two before you eat breakfast.
This is what our bodies are evolved to do.
When food is plentiful we store energy as fat. Then when there is no food we don’t eat – i.e. fast.
And while fasting, blood sugar and insulin drops, stored glycogen is burnt off, and you get into ketosis and start burning the fat you stored for the occasion.
Problem is that in modern America – for the vast majority of people – there is never a time when there is no food available.
But we can still achieve ketosis with….
Insulin and blood sugar spike after we eat carbohydrates, and to a lesser extent when we eat protein.
So if you stop eating carbs, moderate protein, and get most of your calories from fat you can “trick” your body into what is called nutritional ketosis.
Even though you’re consuming calories, your hormones are telling your body to stay in Ketosis because the available energy (calories) are in the form of fat.
Quick note on protein: If you want weight loss, you want to eat just enough protein for your body to maintain muscles, bones and other body structures. If you eat more protein than that, your body turns it into sugar and if you don’t burn it as sugar turns it into fat.
Ad, if you are interested in bone health check out this post. It includes a little known fact about how you can increase your bone health besides diet and weight bearing exercise….
If you’re talking about your metabolism, insulin is the mother of all hormones.
It tells your cells that there is sugar in the blood and they need to open up and take it in.
Muscle cell open up and take in as much glucose as they can and turn it into glycogen.
Insulin tells fat cells to take in the rest of the glucose and store it as as fat.
Insulin tells your cells to burn or store carbohydrates.
But more importantly, Insulin tells your cells not to burn fat.
So if you are looking for a “diet” that will make you lose weight in the form of body fat that diet has to control insulin.
Known as the hunger hormone, it stimulates the brain which leads to increased appetite.
Ghrelin also blocks the burning of body fat for energy and increases fat storage.
The satisfaction hormone, it regulates the rate of fat breakdown. As leptin levels rise so does fat burning.
If you don’t eat for a day or two, you might be hungry for the first few hours but then when you switch to burning fat for energy you won’t be hungry anymore. Leptin is the reason for this.
Stimulates your body to start the gluconeogenesis process that makes blood sugar out of fat/triglycerides. Glucagon is stimulated under the same conditions as Ketosis (low levels of blood sugar and insulin)
This is the fight or flight hormone. It increases heart rate, blood pressure and redistributes blood to the skeletal muscles.
Adrenalin is a evolutionary throwback to a time when fighting or fleeing was a matter of survival, now – Adrenalin junkies notwithstanding – it is not really that good for you.
It is triggered by threat, excitement, noise, bright light, even sudden change in temperature.
Modern life has many adrenaline triggers that don’t involve physical threat.
And while adrenaline may not directly case weight gain it does cause many of the stresses that result in over production of cortisol.
Known as the stress hormone because it is released in times of stress, cortisol stimulates your body to produce fast energy.
But over the long term, cortisol suppresses the immune system, stops bone growth and maintenance, and tells your body to store fat.
This is especially a problem for people suffering from chronic stress.
If you are having trouble losing weight and you have low energy – like being cold all the time – you should have your thyroid checked.
Thyroid hormones help your body burn fat and they increase your BMR (base metabolic rate) that means you will burn more energy even while you are sitting on the couch.
how your body metabolizes carbohydrates is also affected by thyroid hormones.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
HGH is stimulated by exercise.
It’s main function it to help the absorption and use of protein to build and maintain muscle.
To some Extent, HGH also counteract insulin and frees fat for your body to burn as fuel.
If you’re looking to get thinner and more muscular, exercise, protein and HGH are a great combo.
You probably won’t see the result on the scale because while you may get thinner you will be putting on muscle mass.
Everybody knows that muscle is denser and heavier than fat.
As we age our bodies produce less HGH and as a result we take longer to to heal and build muscle. That’s why the 50 year old me take a lot longer to recover from a hard workout than the 20 year old me did.
Everybody that this is the Male sex hormone, but woman need testosterone too.
It plays a big roll in building muscles – that’s why men tend to be more muscular.
Testosterone also plays a role in fat metabolism – it promotes fat burning.
As we age both men and woman produce less testosterone.
Just like HGH, this is one of the reasons we all (both men and women) have a harder time maintain our strength and endurance.
The female hormone – I’m sure everybody knows that too.
But everyone needs a balance of estrogen & testosterone – it is different for men and woman but we all need both.
Estrogen promotes fat storage which is why woman tend to struggle more with weight issues than men.
Estrogen directly affects bone density and the flexibility of muscle tendons and ligaments.
Woman produce less estrogen as they age and especially during and after menopause.
Men actually produce more estrogen with age.
The Secret to Weight Loss
Facts of Life
Some of the change in hormones is simply a fact of getting older – I mean I don’t want to burst your bubble but if you’re over 50 no lifestyle change will get you in the world cup.
HGH, Estrogen and testosterone are going to do what they do – you can definitely slow the decline. The right food will help, but the best thing is regular exercise.
You absolutely can and should control stress.
Meditation, exercise, and even therapy if there is something you can’t get past.
If you reduce stress in you life, you can lower adrenaline and cortisol, and that will make it easier to lose weight. And it will make you feel better.
This is the part of life where you have the most control. Your a grown up and have been for years.
What, how much and how often you eat is completely in your control
to lose weight comfortably you’ll need to control all of those things.
If all you do is eat less calories you are probably feel the hunger.
But if you also eat less carbs and less often you can get your insulin, ghrelin, leptin and glucagon back where it ought to be.
Our weight loss diet post outlines 8 specific principles you can use to balance your hormones and control your weight.
If you want to know more about the benefits of the Keto Diet, check out our sister site, Castleinthemountains.com…
There are tons of Keto Diet tips.
And, if you think a few extra pounds aren’t a big deal, have a look at the complications of obesity. These are some real effects that aren’t always discussed in polite company. There are also some simple solutions included that you can start using before you drop the pounds.
Cheers for now everyone!