As we age, we go through so many physical and mental changes it may feel like we are losing control over our bodies.
One of the most common changes people experience in their 40s is weight gain - this can be related to lifestyle, hormonal changes, genetics and many other factors.
Muscle mass typically diminishes from 3 to 8% per decade after the age of 30. When muscle mass declines, so does the rate at which your body burns calories, also known as metabolism. If your metabolic rate slows down, it becomes harder to lose weight.
Another significant change after the 40s is a dysregulation of the immune response, which can lead to chronic inflammatory states. Increased inflammation speeds ageing whilst further decreasing metabolism, creating leptin resistance, insulin resistance and increasing fat stores.
Peri-menopause and menopause also slow metabolic rates and lead to weight gain. During menopausal transitions, there's a decline in muscle mass combined with declining estrogen levels.
Estrogen regulates glucose and lipid metabolism, synthesising and breaking down lipids within cells to store fats and energy. When estrogen levels drop during the peri-menopause phase, the body's capacity to break down calories, burn fat, and produce energy is compromised. This leads to fat storage, usually in the lower abdominal area.
As you age, you do not need as many calories as you used to due to decreased muscle mass. If your goal is to maintain your weight, it's essential to reduce food intake as it becomes more difficult to burn calories as the years go by!
Most of us overeat throughout our lives; however, before our 40s, we were able to compensate for that due to higher metabolic rates and physical activity. As we age and our metabolism slows, practising portion control to test if smaller meals can be satisfying becomes essential to manage weight effectively.
Physical activity is always important, especially when weight becomes harder to control and maintain.
Unfortunately, one of the natural effects of ageing is the involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength and bone density. Weight and strength training helps to counteract muscle and bone mass loss. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will be able to burn; thus, strength training also positively affects your metabolism.
It is important to note that looking after your mental health and happiness is as important as managing your physical health - invariably, research proves happiness makes you healthier. Studies also show a consistent pattern in depression and unhappiness in midlife. Therefore, do more of what makes you happy.
Weight gain after 40 is natural. However, you can take action to adjust your habits and counteract the effects ageing has on your body.
The WellBeing test is a private finger-prick blood test that uses your blood biomarkers to provide personalised insights to help you achieve your weight management goals. The easy-to-use testing kit can be done from the comfort and privacy of your own home, giving you the ability to prioritise your health while also saving you time. Take the first step towards sustainable weight management.