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Old Age – Weight Gain and Its Causes and Treatment/Measures

Being very thin at any time of life means that a woman is unhealthy. Some fat is essential for true health and this is never more true than at the time of the menopause. Being too thin can increase your risk of osteoporosis and gives you no “reserves” in case you fall ill.

Slowing Metabolic Rate

Weight increase is gradual in both men and women as they age, but for women it may become especially noticeable during the menopausal and postmenopausal years. There are at least two factors involved here. First, lack of oestrogen leads to a change in body shape and fat distribution, so that the waist thickens and fat is deposited on the front of the abdomen (fat cells all over the body also increase in size). Second, the metabolic rate gradually slows down as we mature (by about 5 percent or 100 calories a day per decade) and, by the age of about 55, we need fewer calories.

Regular exercise

The main reason our metabolism declines with age is because we lose muscle strength through being less active. Unless we have a regular and frequent exercise regime incorporated into our lives, continuing to eat at our usual rate will lead to weight gain. To combat this we need to eat sensibly and take regular exercise.

Although we need fewer calories, our body’s nutritional needs remain the same. Calorie counting may be too time-consuming for anyone to maintain in the long term, so it’s much better to eat a diet that is well balanced and contains few “empty” high-calorie foods, such as sugar and fat.

Changing Your Eating Patterns

It’s within your power to change not only what you eat, but how you eat. As we get older, many of us find we can’t manage three main meals a day. Try eating five or even six small meals at regular intervals so that the nutritional load is spread. This eating habit is very effective in terms of weight control because small frequent meals prevent troughs of low blood sugar, which are accompanied by cravings for food. By eating little and often you will gain confidence in your ability to control your appetite.

Many studies have been carried out to show the differences between people who eat small, frequent meals and those who eat fewer and larger meals. The latter invariably have more body fat than the former. Some slimmers find that a diet designed on a nibbling pattern helps to prevent hunger pangs, and there is evidence that this may speed up weight loss. Your digestive system will prefer a nibbling pattern, particularly if you suffer from indigestion or peptic ulcers.

Reducing the saturated fat content in your diet will also greatly help you to maintain your weight, and it will protect you from a range of diseases.

Avoid Crash Diets

Try not to attempt crash diets or long-term diets that are little more than starvation. The initial weight loss may be impressive – as high as 3-5kg (6-11 lb) in the first week – but less than half of this will be fat; most of it will be water, and it could even include some of your
precious body protein. A diet that restricts total calorie intake to below a thousand calories is only just adequate.

Very strict diets, those around 500 calories, cannot provide all the required nutrients for an adult. You will even struggle with 1000 calories. There is much research to show that towards the end of a long period of this kind of dieting, the rate of weight loss not only
decelerates, but the weight starts to go back on.

Eating Binges

The fewer and fewer calories we give the body, the harder it is to maintain the diet. A return to a normal eating pattern will cause an inevitable increase in weight as body stores of glycogen are replaced. This is extremely depressing if you have made a great effort to shed excess weight. It is common for a person coming off a starvation diet to go on eating binges and find themselves on a treadmill of intermittent starving and bingeing that is extremely damaging to their health and self Image.

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