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Why is it that when you reach 40 or so it is so hard to maintain your weight?

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bjbrown | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 1, 2010 at 6:27 AM via web

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Why is it that when you reach 40 or so it is so hard to maintain your weight?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 6:36 AM (Answer #1)

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In order to maintain your weight, you need to keep a balance between how many calories you put in your body and how many calories your body uses in a typical day.  We usually hear this second thing referred to as our metabolism.  Different people have different metabolic rates.  People with high metabolisms can eat a lot and not get fat because their body is using more calories than a person with a low metabolism.

In general, people's metabolisms slow as they age (at least partly because you tend to lose muscle).  That means that when you reach a certain age, your body starts to need fewer calories.  That makes it harder to maintain your weight -- you need to lower your caloric intake and that is not easy.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 6:48 AM (Answer #2)

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Metabolism describes how our body converts food into fuel and how efficiently it does this. As we age, metabolism slows down and we do not burn calories as quickly as we did when we were younger.

Your metabolism is influenced by your age (metabolism naturally slows about 5% per decade after age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be).

There are other reasons that it is more difficult to lose weight as we age. One of these reasons is due to heredity. Yes, we do inherit these kinds of things from our parents.

Suggested exercises for middle aged people desiring to lose weight include aerobic exercises which will boost heart rate and burn more calories in the short term and weight training which will build muscle and boost metabolism in the long run. Eating smaller, more frequent healthy meals is also suggested.

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ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 9:31 AM (Answer #3)

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There are a couple significant reasons for weight gain after forty.  The first reason is the slowing down of metabolism as we age.  When we are young our bodies metabolism works at a higher rate than when we are older.  As it gradually slows, people gain weight.  This typically happens at a slow pace and picks up as we age.

A second reason for weight gain after 40 is the loss of muscle mass.  When we are younger we tend to engage in more activities and more strength training.  As we lose muscle mass we lose our body's ability to burn calories at a higher rate.  The more muscle we have the more calories we burn.  This is because muscle requires more fuel to function than fat does. 

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:21 AM (Answer #4)

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As some people age, and I reiterate some, the BMR(basal metabolism rate) or how your body burns fuel decreases some. This is chiefly due to a decrease in physical activity levels. Even though your activity levels decrease, you still consume calories that when not utilized by the body turn into fat and are stored as adipose tissue. Humans are creatures of habit. Unless you make a conscience effort to change these eating habits, they remain the same over the years. Also, unless you make an effort to increase your activity level, this too remains the same.

Over time, the same eating habits coupled with decreased activity levels tends to lead us to weight gain. The only way to combat this is to decrease your caloric intake while increasing your activity level(exercise). Exercise increases your BMR, thus your body burns calories more efficiently.

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raid1802 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 2, 2010 at 6:16 PM (Answer #5)

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Female hormones are responsible for your hormonal weight gain during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. They are the reason for the silent changes that go on inside your body cells, which often make themselves very visible through your body weight.

We know for a fact that most women resort to rigid diets that are often non-effective and even dangerous. If you are one of these women, you are putting yourself in danger. Starving yourself can only lead to anxiety and depression. Anxiety only makes situations worse.

What you should understand is that your female hormones and weight gain is the work of nature. Since your body knows exactly how much body fat it needs to function properly, you should not worry over temporary increase in weight. It is during crucial times such as puberty, pregnancy and even menopause that your body works biologically in order to keep it in good condition.

During menopause, your physique will change again into a more apple-shaped figure, as fat will be distributed mostly around your belly. The reason for this is that during this stage, the female hormones of your body naturally decline. Since estrogen, a female hormone, is needed to protecting your bones, breasts and bladder, your body tends to find means to make up for its loss by producing this hormone from other sources. One efficient source of estrogen is fat cells. Knowing this, the body converts calories into fat to increase estrogen levels.

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