I had the rare opportunity this past weekend to watch a Pro-Fitness competition that was held here in Austin. The IFBB & PRO Adela Garcia Classic 2023. My daughter has entered her first bikini competition that is coming up in July and we decided to check out what the hype was all about. I come from a family of competitors and Adela was definitely one of my idols growing up. As the big day approaches, my daughter’s nerves are getting the best of her. So her coach sent us to a show to get familiar with the process and calm her anxiety. We had a blast! Men and women of all ages competing in every fitness category of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities.
I couldn’t help but notice the distinct difference with the women as the age categories went up. The pool of contenders dramatically reducing in size. By the time they got to my age bracket, there were 3 competitors. So they all walked away with a trophy! It was interesting to see the physical changes with age as bodies became less full, less muscular, and no matter how much plastic surgery or aesthetic injectables that were evident, skin laxity is simply inevitable. There was a significant difference as the age brackets grew with these amazing women. It was evident that muscle retention, visceral fat, and the undeniable forces of gravity were visible with each quarter turn, with the decades of life and possible babies under their belt. What a great and honorable moment for these brave women.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what is the primary cause of this as we age? Is age the primary reason for weight gain? Are we fighting an uphill battle with every trip around the sun?
Unpopular Truth: Weight gain is not primarily caused by aging.
You may have heard your elders claim that weight gain is due to a slower metabolism as we age. However, a recent study has revealed that human metabolism remains relatively stable between the ages of 20 and 60. Researchers from Duke University examined the average calorie expenditure of over 6,600 individuals across 29 countries, ranging from one week old to 95 years old. They discovered that the decline in metabolism around the age of 60 is only about 0.7% per year. Therefore, a lackluster metabolism is not the main reason for weight gain.
While hormonal changes, such as those during menopause, can make weight loss or muscle gain slightly more challenging and affect where we tend to accumulate fat, these changes alone do not significantly impact our body composition when compared to other factors. The primary factor contributing to weight gain during midlife appears to be the changes in our lifestyles and priorities as we age. We tend to become more sedentary, engage in less physical activity, and may allow once-healthy dietary habits to decline and become more relaxed. Additionally, the loss of lean muscle, which is one of the most metabolically demanding tissues in our bodies, has a substantial impact on metabolism.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to combat midlife weight gain. By maintaining an adequate protein intake, cooking at home more frequently, continuing with resistance training, and staying physically active, we can better resist the effects of weight gain during this stage of life.
Read the study here:
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