Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Do We Gain Weight As We Age?

Helping people get back to a healthy body weight and maintain it gives me a lot of satisfaction since as we age it seems harder and harder to do.  Maintaining a healthy body weight is critical to fighting age and disease.  Staying trim has the bonus of making us feel good about ourselves because our organs are working well so we feel good and the bottom line…our skinny jeans fit.  So, why do we gain weight as we age even when we exercise and eat right?

Female Hormones:
Our bodies change as we age and a visible difference seen in women is the way fat is stored and used.  “Growth hormones moderate where excess energy is stored.  In our youth, when there is excess sugar, these hormones dictate that the energy be stored in the muscle as glycogen (to be used later as energy). However, in the aging body, excess energy is usually stored in the fat cells due to changes in hormones and hormone production.
Changes in estrogen receptors in the hypothalamus, a sign of menopause, means it can be harder to lose weight. In turn there is a greater burden on women to eat a healthy diet and exercise more to help their metabolism make up for the loss of estrogen, which helped regulate weight gain and appetite. Interestingly, fat cells produce estrogen, along with other hormones and proteins. But estrogen produced in fat cells will not help regulate obesity and metabolism. Instead, estrogen that accompanies weight gain, especially in abdominal fat, puts women at a higher risk for breast cancer, because estrogen stimulates cell growth. That growth can include cancer cells, making the spread of the disease even more dangerous. See targeted solutions for your estrogen levels here.

Slowed-Down Metabolism:
The rate at which our body uses up energy from food starts to decelerate as we get older causing more fat to be stored than when we were young. The body also starts to produce cortisol, a stress-related hormone that has a direct effect on fat storage.  When we are stressed, cortisol affects fat storage and weight because it becomes more concentrated.  PLUS, the enzyme that is responsible for turning inactive cortisol into an active hormone lives in the fat tissue causing more fat to be accumulated and the cells to actually grow in size!  This is why it is so important to maintain your muscle mass as you age because the more you have the more efficient your metabolism is.  Incorporate strength training, Pilates, yoga and aerobic exercises to best build muscle and a better metabolism.  Drink green tea to speed up your metabolism! Don't like green tea but want the benefits? Check out a supplement that is the same as SEVEN cups of tea with no caffeine!  My weight management program includes a supplement that is a unique dietary supplement to help you stay calm and relaxed through a proprietary blend of ingredients shown to promote healthy cortisol levels.  Of course, a person can take this supplement alone for its benefits of calmness and healthy cortisol levels.

Question:  When you need to lose some weight to feel better or fit into your clothes, what works for you?

Health Tip:  5 Sneaky Energy Suckers by Women's Health (Elianna Osborn)

1. Dehydration 
Next time you start feeling mentally sluggish or feeling foggy light headed, instead of thinking you are hungry try downing a glass or two of water.

2. Cell Phones
Checking your cell phone before going to bed amps up brain activity making it harder to doze off
plus the artificial blue light  coming from your electronics can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin  20% of people are awakened by a cell,text at least a few times a week.  Power down well before bed. 

3. Medication 
Many medications have energy-sapping side effects. Chief among them are antidepressants and certain beta-blockers used to prevent migraines or treat high blood pressure if you feel more lethargic than usual see your Doctor they have other drugs that can be taken before going to bed.

4. Over-training
While working out zaps the stress hormone Cortisol, prolonged sweat sessions -like running 30 minutes at a steady rate can actually rev up cortisol production.   Combine your exercise with strength training and free weights with help keep cortisol in check.

5. Low Iron
The mineral shuttles oxygen around your body and removes waste from your cells. If you're not getting around 18 milligrams a day, your body struggles to function properly and you can feel worn out if you feel sluggish, ask your doctor for a simple blood test  to see if you need to be taking a supplement.

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