As we age it becomes easier and easier to gain weight, and harder and harder to keep it off. This weight gain may seem inevitable, but many factors will cause this and there are many factors that can prevent this.
As we age our activity levels decline. Our activity levels are usually highest when we are teenagers and in our early twenties. Once we get into our careers and patterns of life, it becomes harder to fit physical activity or exercise into our schedules.
It is easier to fit exercise in or fit in a fun hike or bike ride with a friend when you don’t have kids or a family, or a demanding career with a tough boss. It is easier to prepare healthy foods when you have time to do it. It gets much harder to prepare healthy foods when you are working full time and have kids, etc.
As we age, the amount of food that we need on a daily basis decreases. So if you eat the same way when you are 50 as you did when you were 20, you will gain weight. As we age our resting metabolic rate decreases. The resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories you burn just sitting there,doing nothing, just existing.
Calorie consumption is a delicate balance. If you consume too little calories you will lose weight which could be a good or bad thing depending on what your body type is like. Consume too many, and you will gain weight. The average adult consumes approximately 1 million calories per year. If this balance is altered by just 1 percent, it will cause weight gain of 3 pounds annually. This 1 percent is just 25 calories per day, or 10,000 calories per year. 25 calories per day is the equivalent of half an Oreo cookie or 2.5 French fries. So just eating that much extra each day (a seemingly insignificant amount) will cause weight gain of 3 pounds per year.
Between the ages of 25 and 35, daily basal energy requirements may decrease by 50 calories. The daily basal energy requirement is the amount of energy you need to subsist and survive on a daily basis, without taking into account energy burned from exercise or other activities. Energy requirements may fall by 150 calories per day between the ages of 25 and 50. 150 calories per day may not seem like much, but consuming an extra 150 calories per day will add up to 12 pounds per year. 150 calories is: 1 small bag of white cheddar cheese pop corn, 3 Oreo cookies, or a Star Bucks petite vanilla bean scone with a grande iced café Americano with no added sugar.
It becomes more important to pay attention to serving size and calories as we age. Especially when the American Dietetic Association indicates that the average American underestimates how many calories they consume on a daily basis, often by as much as 25 percent. This 25 percent can add up to a lot of extra calories throughout the year and extra pounds by the end of the year, and more pounds each and every year. The average person gains 1 to 2 pounds per year as they age. This weight gain can add up to 20 to 40 extra pounds by age 40. This can be a spare tire around your waist, or more.
This is why it becomes more important to pay attention to serving sizes. A bag of chips may list that it has 100 calories per serving. But a bag may consist of 2 to 3 servings. If you don’t read the caloric information, it is easy to eat a 300 calorie snack while you were thinking you were eating a 100 calorie snack.
Physicians at the Cleveland Clinic Department of Nutritional Therapy suggests that we compare food to similar sized objects to be able to visualize a single serving size. The following are the equivalent of a single serving size: vegetables or fruit the size of your fist, amount of pasta that will fit into an ice cream scoop, meat fish chicken that is the size of a deck of playing cards or the size of your palm without the fingers, pretzels and chips the size of a cupped handful, an apple the size of a baseball, a bagel the size of a hockey puck, a pancake or waffle the size of a compact disc.
The other main factor that will affect weight gain and metabolism is exercise. Exercise will burn calories, and will speed up metabolism.
Weight lifting will replace fat with muscle, and muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This means that muscle will burn more energy or calories than fat does, therefore increasing your resting metabolic rate. The amount that it increases your resting metabolic rate isn’t much, but any difference helps.
Cardio-vascular (cardio) exercise is the best way to burn calories. I prefer low impact cardio, which can be: walking, swimming, elliptical machine, stationary/spin/ outdoor biking, rowing machine, stair master, etc. During the first 20 minutes of cardio is when the most changes and health benefits will occur. The first 20 minutes of cardio will decrease your chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and so on. After the first 20 minutes, the main benefit from cardio is burning calories. Cardio is the best way to burn calories and to lose weight. If you do not do cardio-vascular exercise, you will not lose weight.
Weight lifting is good, but cardio-vascular exercise will benefit your health more and will burn more calories. Weight lifting will strengthen up your body and provide stability to your body. It can help to stabilize an arthritic knee and allow you to use that knee more. Weight lifting will decrease your chances or the above mentioned conditions, but not as much as what cardio exercise will.
Cardio-vascular exercise will burn calories and provide a myriad of health benefits; much more so than weight lifting. I feel that it is essential to perform both types of exercise because they will compliment each other.
The key with any type of exercise is consistency. If you exercise on and off, exercising intensely for a few weeks then taking a few weeks to a few months off, you will not get any benefit from exercising. But if you can exercise consistently, you will see and feel a difference. You will benefit more from walking 3 times a week for 20 minutes for the rest of your life than you would from exercising hard for a few weeks and then taking a few weeks off. You have to be consistent with exercise.
There are many ways to prevent weight gain as you age. If you sit around and do nothing, then you will gain weight and gain all of the health issues associated with it. If you can exercise and move around consistently, then you will gain all of the health benefits of exercise such as feeling better, moving easier, less chances for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. It is never too late to start exercising, 90 year olds will benefit from exercising. Feeling better through nutrition and exercise is the Pain Free way.