Weight gain may seem to be an inevitable part of aging, but it’s not. While there are several reasons an individual’s weight might increase as they get older, there are also ways to deal with it. Causes of age-related weight gain after weight loss surgery, include slowing metabolism. A slower metabolism results in fewer calories burned even when the level of activity remains the same. Muscle mass also decreases with age; seniors lose 1-2 percent of their muscle each year after age 50. The remaining muscle can lose strength at an even faster rate, and some people lose muscle strength at a rate of 5 percent per year.
Weight Gain After Menopause
The hormonal changes brought on by menopause are among the reasons for the loss of muscle mass and why aging comes with a tendency to pack on the pounds. The loss of muscle is called sarcopenia. Menopause not only triggers a loss of muscle, but it also causes an increase in fat. While an older woman’s body weight may not change, she may see a change in her body’s shape.
For an older adult, the key to fighting weight gain is to adjust their diet and activity level to compensate for the changes. These lifestyle adjustments are essential. Obesity in older adults leads to a variety of problems ranging from health issues like heart disease and diabetes to a decline in mobility and a decreased quality of life.
Researchers have found that while diet and exercise each provide significant benefits when used separately, the combination was the most effective of all for weight loss. Diet and exercise together reduced weight and improved mobility.
Bodyweight exercises, along with weight training, have been shown to benefit seniors by reducing their body fat and boosting their metabolism. The faster an individual’s metabolism is, the more calories they will burn throughout the day, even when in a resting state.
After weight loss surgery, senior weight loss is no different from weight loss at any age in that it depends on taking in fewer calories than are burned through activity. The more active an individual is, the more calories they burn. To facilitate calorie-burning, seniors should spend less time sitting and more moving. Seniors with jobs that require long periods of sitting must make a conscious effort to stand and walk around from time to time.
Eat Fewer Calories at Night
One of the reasons for weight gain is eating food late in the day. Taking in a larger number of calories at dinner time as opposed to during breakfast and lunch is a major cause of obesity. The weight gain is the product of a condition called metabolic syndrome, which also comes with elevated blood pressure. Much of the weight gain brought about by metabolic syndrome will be in the abdominal area.
The high-protein diet should be a key element of any senior’s attempt to lose weight. It helps with the loss of fat while maintaining muscle mass. At the same time, it can preserve bone density. People who eat high-protein, low-calorie meals lose more weight than people who don’t. They also lose much of that weight in the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. People who eat this kind of diet may also see a reduction in biomarkers that predict mortality.
Cut Down on Sugar
In the modern era, sugar is responsible for a larger proportion of a senior’s daily caloric intake than it did earlier in history. Much of the sugar comes from beverages like sweetened coffee and sodas. Along with weight gain and type 2 diabetes, excessive sugar consumption can raise the risk of certain cancers and dementia as well.
The Downsides of Weight Loss in Seniors
Weight loss is not always positive in the elderly. One drawback of weight loss among seniors is that some studies show a connection with mortality. While these studies fail to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary weight loss, the connection should still be factored into any diet and exercise plan. Also important is the fact that seniors who lose fat also tend to lose muscle as well as bone density.
Older adults with certain conditions may increase their risk of complications by choosing the wrong diet or exercise plan. For example, a senior with high cholesterol should not follow a diet that focuses on the consumption of animal products. Similarly, someone who suffers from constipation should avoid any diet that forbids them to consume whole grains and other fiber-rich carbohydrates. In all cases, seniors should consult their physicians before starting any diet or exercise plan.