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Why do we start putting on weight when we get to 40 and how to avoid it.

For most of us 40 is a turning point where our body’s caloric balance changes and we start getting fat. However, this can be avoided and I will explain to you what you need to do to dodge getting fat as you get older.

Putting on weight unwillingly is a significant problem which is very common. We have all experienced times when we felt we could be slimmer. For more and more of us it has become a constant reality despite the fact that we’re all well aware that eating a balanced diet and exercising is paramount if we want to lose fat and keep it off. Most of the time the reason is not a metabolic disorder but a simple matter of burning less calories than we consume. On average, most people in the developed world consume about 30% daily calories more than they ought to. So putting on extra pounds it to be expected.

To be clear, if you consume only 100 excess calories per day (one spoon of olive oil or a small banana or a few almonds and of course the extra daily latte), it adds up to 3-5kg additional weight by the end of the year. Scary, no? Without constant care it is impossible to maintain the desired weight. What better evidence is required when you consider the huge increase in bariatric surgeries?

Putting on weight is not just a matter of mass, it’s also a matter of composition. A negative change in composition (i.e., increase in body fat and decrease in muscle mass) is what makes us fatter. Therefore it is not enough just to watch our weight but we need to keep our fat percentage in check and if necessary reduce it. This is an important point because many people manage to maintain the same weight whilst increasing their fat percentage.

A very common feature in many diets is a ‘creative’ calculation of caloric consumption without taking into account body composition. In such cases it’s easy to observe those who lost weight but look worse off because they’ve put on fat whilst losing muscle mass.

Once we reach 40’ish, our potential to accumulate fat increases greatly and we can see it all around us. The reason for it is a decrease in our metabolism as well as a decrease in physical activity (compared with our past activity).

The potential of getting fatter around the age of 40 is on the increase and as we get older we can clearly observe how fat is accumulating around our waist and other areas of our body which weren’t fat previously. We see more cellulite, varicose veins, reduced vitality, and reduced stability and reduced sex drive. We are all painfully aware that if we don’t make a radical and sustainable change things will only get worse.

There is no mistake in thinking that if we make these radical changes and get back to balanced nutrition and better fitness our health will improve and some of the damage will be reversed or even eliminated. However, there are systems in our body which after years of abuse cannot be repaired and therefore the overall rehabilitation will be slow and gradual.

So is getting fatter as we age a given? It probably is. For most people it is quite difficult to retain a healthy (and desirable) body composition without strong willpower to adopt a correct wholistic way of life which will help them retain their desired body composition and their preferred aesthetic appearance.

So here’s how you can make it happen:

  • Get professional guidance – First of all it’s important to get advice about viable compromises which are likely to be maintained. A professional would aim at a sustainable and user friendly programme that is customised for you. There is no one solution fit for all here. It mustn’t be radical and it should be gradual and readjusted where necessary.In addition you must understand that radical diets are directly linked to fat gain and negative change in body composition.The temptation is huge to try and lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time.However, less than 5% will be able to keep it off over time. There is also the issue of substantial changes in consumption habits, reorganisation and related financial and emotional cost.

  • Physical activity and adequate nutrition – There’s no doubt that increased physical activity if a major component. Regular activity, including aerobic, strength and resistance training are crucial for retaining correct body composition. Care needs to be taken that the food that is consumed can help retain existing muscle mass whilst reducing fat. You’re not going to get that from a radical or excessive diet. So starvation is the wrong way to go about it.

So until there’s a new magical scientific discovery that will enable us to lose fat without losing muscle mass and retain our desirable physical appearance there’s only one way to get results. Balanced diet and adequate physical activity guided and supervised by an experienced professional which can help you achieve what you desire and keep it over time. Without that, getting fat is not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’.

I should also mention that there are other reason for weight gain. The most common ones are hyperthyroidism and an imbalance of the hormone cortisol (which can create fat accumulation especially around the midriff) which is caused by stress. You can read more about stress and ab-flab here

As always, I’m here to help you achieve your health objectives so don’t hesitate to ask for my assistance.

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