Roughly three-quarters of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC, meaning millions of women and men have increased risks of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, dementia, and more. Losing weight can reduce those risks, but if you’re over age 40, dropping extra pounds can be especially difficult.
At BodyLogicMD in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Anita Petruzzelli, MD, understands the challenges of losing weight, especially once a person reaches the middle years of life — and she also knows that a custom approach to losing weight is essential. In this post, Dr. Petruzzelli offers an overview of some of the more common reasons why weight loss after 40 can be a lot more challenging.
Both estrogen and testosterone play a role in weight management, and when you reach your 40s, those hormones start to decline. The decrease in estrogen for women is especially pronounced, but men also experience a decline in testosterone. Both changes take a toll on your metabolism, which means losing weight and keeping it off can be harder.
Loss of muscle mass
As you age, your muscle mass — the amount of muscle tissue you have — also declines. Because muscle tissue burns calories more efficiently, when you lose muscle mass, your body doesn’t burn off as many calories, leaving the excess to be stored as fat. As fat increases, your metabolism slows down, which means you gain more weight.
Many people shift into a less active lifestyle during the middle years of life, especially when kids get older and work demands increase. Hormonal shifts and weight gain can also make you feel more tired, resulting in less activity. When you’re more sedentary, you don’t burn as many calories, leading to more weight gain.
In addition to hormonal shifts, other factors affect our metabolism as we age. These changes make it harder for our bodies to burn fat, meaning that even if you consume the same number of calories, you can pack on pounds.
It’s tempting to think that once the tempestuous years of youth are behind you, the middle years will be calm and quiet. But that’s rarely the case. Middle age also comes with plenty of stress, including stress about work, family, and aging.
Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which can cause weight gain and make it harder to shed pounds. Plus, we’re more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods when stressed.
Too little sleep also increases the risk of weight gain, and while stress can certainly contribute to poor sleep, data show that aging affects sleep, too. As with stress, lack of sleep also increases our cravings for junk food and can also slow down our metabolism.
Lose weight — and keep it off
People gain weight for different reasons, and they lose weight differently, too. At her practice, Dr. Petruzzelli works closely with each patient to design a custom weight-management solution tailored to each person’s medical history, health risks, lifestyle habits, and more.
Your weight-loss plan begins with a physical exam and medical testing to identify nutritional deficiencies and other obstacles affecting your metabolism or driving other behaviors leading to weight gain. Ongoing support and regular check-ins ensure your plan stays on track and focused on your goals.
Even If you’ve had difficulty losing weight in the past, Dr. Petruzzelli can help. To learn more about a custom weight-management plan and how it can help you lose weight and stay healthy, call 860-341-1205 or request an appointment online with Dr. Petruzzelli and the team at BodyLogicMD today.