One of the most beautiful parts of being human is our capacity for change — but when those changes come in the form of a slowed metabolism, an increased appetite and an unhappy gut, it’s time to take a critical look at both our biology and lifestyle habits.
The body will inevitably change as it ages, and for many women, a need for weight management is part of that, but the battle over metabolic regulation isn’t a hopeless one. It can be won with insight, effort and a little extra sleep.
Hormone whisperer and best-selling author, Dr. Sara Gottfried, helps women better understand their bodies and adjust to physical and chemical changes along every stage of life. Her new book, Brain Body Diet puts extra emphasis on how much we can control these changes with simple lifestyle adjustments. Check out these tips for managing weight as we get older and offsetting the unwanted effects of aging along the way…
Does My Age Affect My Weight?
Fat burning slows down with age, beginning in the mid-30s for women and later for men. The gauge that drives body weight set point is called the adipostat. It’s like a thermostat in your brain, but instead of controlling temperature, it controls factors of weight management: how much fat you burn and store by adjusting your appetite hormones, among other factors. If the adipostat gets wonky due to poor food choices (like with sugar), stress or toxins, you can much more easily gain weight than lose it.
Only ten percent of disease is caused by genes, while ninety percent is caused by environmental factors, including the environment you create with lifestyle choices. Exercise is an important part of the puzzle, but I always have my patients consider these lifestyle factors in order to leverage weight loss and aging.
How Do I Manage Weight Gain As I Age?
Along with stress, as discussed earlier, sleep debt and toxins are the top offenders. Sleep is incredibly important for weight management, and poor sleep quality is an epidemic that so many people simply take for granted as part of a busy lifestyle. Studies show a link between weight gain, lack of sleep and insulin resistance. Furthermore, sleep debt leads to dietary indiscretion and weight gain in women — you’re too tired to make wise food choices.
In other words, get that solid seven to nine hours that your body really needs. Regardless of your ability to seemingly function on less sleep, odds are you need it. Only three percent of the population has a gene allowing them to function well on less sleep. Getting better shut-eye is a crucial part of overall health and well-being. Also, two tactics to improve: Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed and cut out caffeine.
When you’re trying to preserve your youth and health, toxins from the environment accumulate in your fat. Your exposure to toxic chemicals, pollution and mold around your home and in your daily life could also be contributing adversely to general health, weight and aging. Hazards can be found in toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, food preservatives, the lining of cans that hold food and many kinds of plastic. Toxins are found in our homes from lead or mold, in the water we drink and the products we buy. The list goes on and on.
Learn more from our series with Dr. Sara based on her new book Brain Body Diet — start exploring here!