Last updated: June 25, 2021
Richard Honaker M.D.
Primary Care Physician
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You may be noticing a little middle-aged weight gain these days. You could blame it on the winter season. But chances are, your weight gain is just a natural part of aging for women. Your jeans may be a bit tighter. Your shirts a little snug. But don’t worry, there are 7 weight loss tips to keep middle-aged weight gain to a minimum.
How Can I Reduce Weight Gain?
- Eat a Healthier Diet
- Get More Fiber in Your Life
- Reduce Stress
- Sleep More
- Exercise 60 Minutes a Day
- Get Your Pump On
- Increase Your Cardio Workouts
As you age, your body begins to store fat in the most horrible of places, like around your abs. This is not fun for women. This can create stress, confidence issues, and also be a call to action to up your health and wellness game.
Did you know that the average American experiences 30 pounds of weight gain from middle-aged to 50 years old? This creates that undesirable apple shape women want to avoid.
The issues are not simply aesthetic either. Middle-aged weight gain in the abdomen area has also been found to increase the risk for disease. If your middle-aged weight gain is becoming noticeable, it’s time to fight back.
Let’s take a closer look at what causes it in women and how you can prevent and reduce your weight for a healthier, happier you.
What Causes Middle-Aged Weight Gain?
Middle-aged weight gain in women is just an unavoidable pain once you hit 30 and move past 40 years of age. There are a few key aspects behind middle-aged weight gain that you should definitely know of and understand.
Hormone Changes in Women
Hormone changes will occur as you age. This is certainly common, ad more so prior to, and during menopause. As your hormones change, weight gain is common around the abs. But the most important thing to remember is that this is happening in all women.
Women’s progesterone levels will begin to decrease when you hit the mid-30s. This decline will also progress when you get closer to menopause too. Estrogen levels will also decrease.
Your hormone changes are closely linked to your body fat. Research published in Climacteric (2012) found that “The hormonal changes across the perimenopause substantially contribute to increased abdominal obesity which leads to additional physical and psychological morbidity.”
What does this mean? Well, as you reach menopause your body will begin storing fat around the abdomen rather than other parts of your body like in your thighs. This shift is fat storage can put you at serious risk for health issues like diabetes.
Other middle-aged weight gain hormone changes include:
- Fat storage proteins and enzymes will become more active.
- Your body will increase fat storage process and be more resistant to burning it off.
Your body will undoubtedly begin to change as you age. This can create a cycle of hormone change-induced cravings and fatigue as well. Causing more fat storage that could be dangerous for your health.
Changes in Your Metabolism
As you age, your metabolism will begin to slow down. This is common unless you take action to speed up your metabolism. Since your metabolism is the rate at which your cells burn energy, you want those cells burning fat.
At around 40 year of age your metabolism will begin to slow. Researchers are even not sure why this happens. It is just part of the natural aging process, especially in women.
Research only serves up indirect evidence. One study published in Nutrition (2010) explained, “There is indirect evidence suggesting that the metabolic rate of individual organs is lower in older compared with younger individuals.”
This makes a slow metabolism a catalyst for middle-aged weight gain. Your body simply can’t burn off those calories as fast as it had when you were younger.
Aging and Muscle Loss
Your metabolism is not the only body process in decline as you age. Muscle loss is another cause of middle-aged weight gain. This is common and can make weight loss challenging if you don’t feel strong enough to get moving.
Did you know that your muscles account for nearly 40 percent of your total body mass? But aging can reduce that number significantly. The muscle loss can be attributed to hormone changes, not staying active as you age, and other health issues.
Women Not Active as Before
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind after work, kids, family, and your favorite Netflix series. It’s normal. We all slow down as we age, and exercise routines often become non-existent.
Another issue is that it takes middle-aged women more time to reach the calorie fat burn needed. The 20-minute workouts you did when you were 20 simply won’t do anymore.
Researchers from Harvard found that “Among middle-aged and older women consuming a usual diet with no calorie restriction, moderate-intensity physical activity for 60 minutes a day is needed to maintain normal BMI and prevent weight gain over time.”
Stress Causes Middle-Aged Weight Gain in Women
If you exercise and eat healthily, but can’t seem to shed your middle-aged weight gain, stress may be the cause. Chronic stress has been associated with weight gain in women in multiple studies.
A rise in cortisol levels in your blood caused by stress can trigger weight gain specifically around the abdomen. This of course can lead to a number of health and wellness issues like obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, etc.
Research on cortisol and stress published in Psychosomatic Medicine (2000) found that “Central fat distribution is related to greater psychological vulnerability to stress and cortisol reactivity. This may be especially true among lean women, who did not habituate to repeated stress.”
Stress can also lead to poor eating habits, like fast food and other unhealthy foods. Stress is a big issue when it comes to women’s health and wellness. But the good news is that there are 7 weight loss tips you can integrate into your life to fight middle-aged weight gain.
Just for You . . .
7 Weight Loss Tips to Fight Middle-Aged Weight Gain
The above middle-aged weight gain issues are all common for women, and really everyone in a sense. But how do you fight back and make weight loss a priority? The battle is certainly an uphill battle, but making a few lifestyle changes can do wonders for women looking to shed a few pounds off their waistline.
1. Get Your Pump On for Weight Loss
Lifting weights is not just for men. Women can make weight loss happen by simply lifting weights just twice a week. Get your pump on and you may see some results in fat loss.
How does lifting weights help burn fat? Well, weight training can speed up your metabolism, which in turn burns fat. Having more muscle on your frame will also increase weight loss since muscle burns more calories.
Lifting weights also decreases stress, improves bone strength, and also promotes heart health. You certainly don’t need to be a gym rat, but adding a few weight lifting exercises into your fitness twice a week can do wonders.
2. Make Cardio Fitness a Must
As you age, cardio can be comparable to going to the dentist or that monthly woman checkup. However, you should make cardio exercise part of your life again. Running is the obvious choice of course, but you should think about cardio exercises that will cause less stress on your joints.
Great cardio workouts that can help you fight middle-aged weight gain and promote weight loss are swimming, biking (spinning class), Zumba, and even yoga. These workout routines can boost your cardio, burn that waistline fat, and decrease your risk for health issues like heart disease.
3. Exercise Daily for 60 Minutes
Ok, so getting an hour all to yourself may be a bit challenging. But as research suggests, middle-aged women need more time exercising to burn the same calories and fat as their younger selves.
This makes getting 60 minutes of exercise a day important. This doesn’t imply you need to be in the gym going all out for 60 minutes either. You just need to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.
Maybe walk 15 minutes in the morning. Enjoy a 30-minute spin class at lunch. And then do a quick 15-minute yoga session at home for 15 minutes after work. You can do it all at once, or spread it out. The main aim is to be active for optimal weight loss.
4. Reduce Your Daily Stress
Stress can do a number on your physical and mental health, especially for middle-aged women. Having too much stress in your life can put you at greater risk for serious diseases, including cancer. It also leads to depression and anxiety.
According to The American Institute of Stress (AIS), “There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections . . .”
By eliminating your daily stress, you can live happier and healthier, as well as increase weight loss around your midsection. But how do you get rid of stress? Well, for starters, start practicing mindfulness meditation.
“Through mindfulness meditation practice our minds can become more capable, more focused and clear, enabling us to better handle stressful and demanding situations,” Dr. Maria Camara of Mindworks explained. “This is how meditation for stress reduction enables us to experience a calmer life.”
You don’t need to become a monk or go on a yearlong Himalayan retreat to practice meditation. All you need to do is take 15 minutes a morning, or during lunch to sit quietly and meditate.
5. Sleep More to Increase Weight Loss
Sleep is more important as you reach those middle-aged years. If you are not getting enough sleep, you have a higher risk of weight gain, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2006).
The women-focused study on sleep and weight found that “These data suggest that short sleep duration is associated with a modest increase in future weight gain and incident obesity.”
The recommended amount of sleep is between 7 to 8 hours per night. It is also worth noting that sleeping pills are not the best option. But there are natural ways to help you sleep, like essential oils.
Other ways to improve bedtime habits are to keep TV time and mobile devices out of your bedroom. It is also important to spend one hour before bedtime doing something relaxing, like reading.
6. Eat Healthier Foods
This one should not be a shocker to anyone. If you eat processed high-calorie unhealthy foods, you will increase your risk for middle-aged weight gain. These foods could be fast-food burgers and fries, ice cream, potato chips, and soda.
But this is an easy lifestyle choice to remedy. All you need to do is begin eating healthier, cleaner foods like vegetables and good fatty meats and fish. For example, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Kale is a superfood that serves up a number of health benefits.
According to HealthWithFood.org, “Thanks to its broad nutritional profile, kale is thought to help fight cardiovascular disease, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis; to prevent several types of cancer and premature aging of the skin; and to promote the health of the urinary tract.”
This dietary change happens first with planning. By planning your weekly menu, you can shop for the week and prepare your foods early too. This will also save you time during your day, stress of not knowing what to do for dinner, and keep your weight loss goals on track.
7. Get More Fiber in Your Life
Fiber is a big part of fighting middle-aged weight gain. Beans, vegetables, whole grains are foods rich in fiber and can increase weight loss, especially as you get older.
In fact, fiber-minded research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2015) suggested that eating 30 grams of fiber per day could help you lose weight. The study also found that getting more fiber could lower blood pressure and benefit your blood sugar response.
Want to improve weight loss as you age? Fiber could be one of the easiest solutions to implement. There are also plenty of delicious foods high in fiber you can enjoy as much as that fast food.
Wrapping Up . . .
If you want to fight middle-aged weight gain and live a healthier and happier life, the above may be very useful. From reducing stress to getting a few days of weight lifting per week, weight loss can be easy as you age.
Remember that you should always ask a doctor before trying anything new and strenuous. You should make sure you are healthy enough to try a few new things to decrease that waistline.
The good news is that we have doctors ready to answer your questions 24/7 online for free. Simply click below to start chatting with a doctor about how you can be your healthiest, regardless of age.
Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker: http://www.independentmedicalexaminer.com/IME-Directory/Virginia/Dr-Richard-A-Honaker-MD.asp
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.
About Richard Honaker M.D.
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