Nutritionist Ilene, I just turned 34 and over the last year, I’ve gained 7 pounds even though I’m eating and working out the same as before. Is this normal?
Although weight gain is common it is not inevitable. To avoid it, get serious about nutrition
and exercise and redesign your lifestyle to stress less and sleep better.
Unfortunately, weight gain as we age is very common. After age 30, there are several factors that contribute to weight gain; Good news? It is not inevitable.
Loss of hormones: Hormones, which control how we feel, change as we age. If you’re experiencing ravenous hunger, insatiable cravings or energy swings, chances are you’re not in balance.
Loss of nutrients: When you’re lacking nutrients, you tend to keep craving and eating foods until you obtain them.
Lack of sleep: 24-hour shifts, second jobs, having children and constant multitasking can hinder a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep triggers cravings for high sugar, high fat foods for instant energy. Chronic lack of sleep coupled with poor workout ability leads to weight gain.
Impaired glucose tolerance: The aging process can be associated with alterations in glucose (blood sugar) metabolism, including both relative insulin resistance and islet cell dysfunction. When cells do not get glucose, appetite can be stimulated. Weight gain and lack of exercise exacerbate this condition.
Over-consumption of concentrated fructose: Fructose, found in high sugary drinks and foods does not stimulate an insulin response, therefore does not control your appetite as effectively as glucose does. This can lead to overeating.
Metabolic in-efficiency: Muscle loss occurs with age and since muscle burns more calories than fat, you end up burning fewer calories. In addition, people tend to slow down and move less as they age.
Excess stress: In our 24-7 connected world of incessant multitasking, we end up over-stressed and when we’re stressed we produce more cortisol. Too much cortisol contributes to weight gain and when coupled with an abundance of readily accessible processed foods high in refined grains, trans-fats, and liquid calories leads to weight gain.
Bad gut bugs: Recent research has shown that gut bugs (bacteria) play a vital role in energy extraction, storage and expenditure and contribute to diet-related obesity. A high fat, high sugar Western diet triggers an overgrowth of a group of bugs which are better equipped at harvesting refined sugars and converting them to fat. A Western diet also yields a loss of healthy gut bugs which work to combat weight gain.
Want to avoid age related weight gain?
- Get serious about nutrition and exercise and redesign your lifestyle to stress less and sleep better.
- Super-size your fitness routine. In addition to keeping weight in check, partaking in cardiovascular and strength exercises at least 5 days a week addresses many issues; it builds muscle and bone mass, releases endorphins to combat mood swings, and promotes quality sleep.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and lean protein like fish, as they will help you feel fuller longer. Reduce the consumption of desserts, sugary drinks and foods, fried foods, meat and cheese and dine at restaurants less often.
While we can’t fix our genes, we can shape our environment to help us achieve and maintain our optimal health and shape. If you continue to gain weight, despite the above recommendations, consider exploring other causes with your PCP.
Next week: Weight loss plateau? Don’t be discouraged!
Have a nutrition related question? Contact Ilene Yalen, MSRD at email@example.com
For more information, see the Firefighter Maintenance Manual on WellAmerica’s website, www.WellAmerica.net, or like our Facebook page “Fit to Fight Fire” at https://www.facebook.com/FitToFightFire/ created by Ronnie Mullins, MSRD, Ilene Yalen, MSRD and Wayne Peate, MD, MPH.
About Ilene Yalen…
Ilene Yalen is the Registered Dietitian working with WellAmerica to help promote the health and wellbeing of others by assessing individual nutritional needs, providing educational posts and handouts, creating healthy recipes and by giving nutritional presentations.
About Dr. Wayne Peate…
A native Tucsonan, Dr. Peate studied nutrition at Harvard where he ate Boston baked beans in tortillas. He is the physician for 24 firefighter agencies.