It’s not you, it’s your biology.
Despite eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping your movement up, you may have noticed that losing weight is not as easy as it used to be. That’s because changes in our biology make losing weight more difficult as we get older.
Below, we look deeper into the reasons why weight gain occurs as we age, and how we can rewind our metabolisms to better manage our health.
- Your metabolism slows down
Your metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) your body uses to maintain its functions day to day. The average person’s metabolic rate is reported to decline by 30% by the age of 50. When your metabolic rate slows down you burn fewer calories throughout the day, which means that more calories are stored as fat in the body.
As the metabolism slows down, you won’t need to consume as many calories to sustain your energy expenditure. But if you have been used to eating certain foods and portion sizes for most of your life, it can be difficult to adjust for this reduced calorie need and many people continue eating the way they always have. This can result in weight gain over time.
- You lose muscle mass
We naturally lose muscle mass as we age through a process called sarcopenia. Studies show that we lose approximately 3–8% of our muscle mass per decade after the age of 30, and this rate of decline is accelerated after the age of 60.
Many people become less active with age, which also leads to a loss of muscle mass. With less muscle mass comes fewer calories required to fuel our day to day lives. If we don’t adjust our eating habits and reduce our calorie intake, weight gain is likely to occur.
- Your hormone levels change
Both men and women will experience changing hormone levels with age. Women’s estrogen levels decline during menopause, which typically occurs between ages 45-55.
During this time women gain an average of half a kilo of weight per year. Hormonal changes of menopause result in a change in body composition where muscle mass decreases and fat percentage increases. It is also responsible for the redistribution of fat into visceral fat positioned within the abdomen. Similarly, men will experience a natural decline in testosterone levels as they age, which also results in reduced muscle mass and an increase in visceral fat.
Visceral fat is more toxic than fat on the hips, thighs or buttocks, and is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For women, this redistribution begins during the perimenopausal period, which can be up to ten years prior to transitioning to menopause.
- Your body fights against you
When you live a more sedentary lifestyle, which is increasingly common as we age, weight can start to creep on gradually. But the longer your weight is higher, the harder it is to get back to a healthy weight range.
This is because your body adapts to the new weight and becomes less effective at processing calories and storing fat and sugars. Essentially, as you make changes to your lifestyle and begin to lose weight, your body will fight to get you back to your higher weight. This is called your ‘set point’.
An Australian study has shown that as we lose weight, counter-regulatory hormones responsible for appetite and hunger signals are produced to encourage weight gain, meaning that a significant proportion of people who lose weight will regain it if they do not maintain lifestyle interventions.
A medical approach to weight loss
All these changes to our bodies make losing weight and keeping it off harder as we age. And unfortunately, sometimes diet and exercise are simply not enough to sustain weight loss long-term. When this is the case, modern medical treatments can offer an effective way to achieve lasting weight loss.
Australian telehealth company Juniper takes a medical approach to weight loss with an industry leading, evidence-based weight management program backed by endocrinologists, dietitians and Australian medical doctors.
Juniper’s Weight Reset Program addresses weight gain at a biological level, providing a medical reset to your metabolic health for lasting weight loss. Using clinically-proven medication that mimics a naturally-produced hormone in the body, it signals the brain to suppress appetite and overhaul ‘hunger hormones’, and works with the stomach to slow down the rate at which it empties. This helps you feel fuller for longer and stops unnecessary cravings.
Along with breakthrough medication, the Weight Reset Program combines dietitian-led health coaching, 1:1 health tracking and ongoing support from an Australian GP to keep you motivated on your weight loss journey and to help you create sustainable lifestyle habits that stick, so you can keep the weight off for good.
The holistic program of doctor-prescribed medication and tools for behavioural change is considered the safest and most effective for long-term weight loss, and can help patients lose up to 15% of their body weight in one year.
If you think the Juniper Weight Reset Program could be a good fit for you, you can start a free consult with a Juniper doctor and check out more on the program here.
This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Juniper.