You: Thirty is the new twenty!
Your body: I beg to differ.
While it is true that losing weight becomes more challenging as you age, there are ways to fight against the natural course of time. Here are 10 things that make it harder to lose weight after 30:
Lack of sleep
With the stress of jobs, school or a family, getting the recommended amount of sleep every night seems like an unreachable goal. There are great reasons not to give up on the dream, however. When we are sleep-deprived, our bodies start to produce more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes us want to eat more and produces less of the hormone leptin, which tells us when to stop eating. In addition to our confused hormones, sleep deprivation is a slippery slope to bad habits. When you’re tired, you may be tempted to fill yourself with caffeine or to eat sugary, carb-heavy foods for a quick energy fix. But these quick fixes will need to be replenished, so reaching for unhealthy snacks/meals can easily become a regular cycle.
Metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories. Less physical activity equals less muscle mass, which equals more weight gain. Unless you have a job that requires you to be active every day, you’ve likely lost a lot of the muscle mass that you had when you were younger. You may have heard that muscle allows you to burn more calories than fat. And that’s true! Try incorporating exercise into your life if you don’t already. Even small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the escalator, will slowly help you replenish muscle.
Less muscle mass
Research has shown that we gradually lose muscle mass and replace it with fat as we age. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Less muscle means a slower-moving metabolism.
Less physical activity
Adult work pressures can commonly make us live much more sedentary lifestyles than those of our youth. And no one can blame you if you’re not eager to hit the gym after a long day of work. They key here is to find little ways to make big changes. If you have enough time, take a walk during your lunch break. Not only will it re-energize you, but it will burn a couple more calories than you would had you stayed seated.
Age brings wisdom … and altered hormones. The good news here is that most women don’t experience a significant hormone flip until after 40. But even still, changes in hormones can literally make you feel hungrier.
Past fad diets
If you’ve ever had a yo-yo dieting phase (or maybe still do), it’s time to kick the habit. Strict diets may help you lose weight in the short term, but they are by no means a healthy, long-term solution. When you restrict yourself more than usual, your body goes into starvation mode, which causes it to start feeding off of excess fat storage. Great, right? Well not exactly, because most fad diets do not provide us with all the nutrients we need in a day. And to add more fuel to the fire, restrictive diets mess with metabolism. Curating a healthier lifestyle, instead of a restrictive one, should be the ultimate goal. Talk to a trusted doctor or nutritionist* about a plan that will best suit your lifestyle.
No one can fault you for using antibiotics from time to time, but exposure to them can really mess with your stomach and foster an imbalanced gut microbiome. This means that your stomach won’t be as adept at breaking down food. Incorporating probiotics into your life, whether through a supplement or through foods like yogurt, can help you nourish your gut bacteria.
Much like the previous point, medication is definitely necessary sometimes, but certain meds can cause side effects like weight gain. If you have a chronic condition that requires medication, talk to your doctor about the best ways you can combat the gain, or ask if you can try a similar medication that may not carry this side effect.
It always leads back to stress, doesn’t it? And increased stress might mean reaching for comfort foods, compulsive snacking and less sleep, which are all the perfect ingredients for weight gain. Stress will always be present to some degree in your life, but there are thousands (or maybe even millions) of ways to manage it. Stress doesn’t have to take over your body, or your life!
Not cooking your own meals
As discussed prior, life can get busy. But opting for takeout or frozen meals makes you a passenger in your pursuit of health instead of the driver. Cooking your own meals gives you more control of what exactly you are putting in your body, and it will help you make more informed choices. If you’re really crunched for time though (believe me, I get it!) take steps to make cooking easier by incorporating meal prepping into your life. Another great option, if you have roommates or a family, is to delegate cooking tasks to each of you. It will make cooking less overwhelming, and you’ll all get the benefit! Even if you can only spare time to make one to two meals a week, it will be a great start to promoting a better lifestyle for yourself.
*Nutritionists are really easy to find if you know where to look! Check out your local chain supermarket, or your workplace and/or university cafe.