The Middle Age Spread:
How to Avoid it!

Many people believe that the middle age spread is a natural part of the ageing process. The fact is however, that putting on weight as we age is more the result of lifestyle choices rather than simply ageing.

In this article we will cover the causes of the middle age spread and what the most effective strategies are to help us keep the weight off as we get older.

There is no doubt that as we age our body doesn't function as well as it did in years past. Our digestive system can't breakdown and absorb the nutrients from food as it once did; our muscles and joints 'stiffen up' and we notice that it now takes us a bit longer to get going, especially on cold mornings; our eyesight isn't quite as sharp as it once was, and there are a few more wrinkles on our skin.

Middle Age Spread

Despite the natural physical decline that results from ageing, putting on weight certainly doesn't have to occur if people are willing to incorporate certain habits into their lifestyle.

Probably the main cause of weight gain as we age is a reduction of physical activity.

How Exercise Prevents
the Middle Age Spread

As people get older they tend to become less active compared to their youth. Obviously many people have a greater number of commitments around family, work and other areas of life that tend to take precedence over exercise. It seems that there simply isn't enough hours in the day to fit everything in let alone exercise as well.

Nevertheless, if we are serious about preventing the middle age spread, then we need to make exercise a higher priority in our life. We need to find the time to exercise. Even if it means getting up a little earlier or going to bed a little later, it has to become a consistent habit that we perform every day.

Exercise increases our daily energy or calorie expenditure, which makes it easier to create an energy or calorie equilibrium or deficit. Since we put on weight only when there is an excess of energy or calories in our diet, an equilibrium or deficit limits our body's ability to do this.

The benefits of regular daily exercise go far beyond simply keeping weight off as we age. It also reduces our risk of acquiring various diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer; it improves our mental functions as well as many other physical capacities.

Plus, to gain these benefits we only need to perform around 20 minutes to half an hour a day of enjoyable, non-stressful exercise. It is not necessary to strain or struggle through an exercise routine. In fact, it is essential not to!

The most important aspect of exercise is that it is sustainable. If you don't enjoy your exercise program then it is highly likely that you will eventually give it up. You will subconsciously look for excuses as to why you can't or shouldn't do it.

Often you'll be too busy, feel tired, are recovering from a bout of the flu or have a sore back, knee, shoulder, etc. If you look hard enough there will always be a suitable excuse not to exercise. That is why it is so important to make exercise enjoyable and relatively short. By doing so you cut out all possible excuses.

Why Weight Training is Essential
to Prevent the Middle Age Spread

Even though any exercise is beneficial in preventing weight gain as we age, there is a specific type of exercise that is the most beneficial in preventing the middle age spread. That type of exercise is resistance or weight training.

Resistance or weight training stimulates our body to maintain or increase our muscle mass and muscle is the most metabolically-active tissue in the body, which means it burns up the most energy. The loss of muscle mass as we age is known as 'sarcopenia' and is generally considered an inevitable part of ageing.

Middle Age Spread

Sarcopenia results in part from nutritional factors (i.e. not having protein every 2-3 hours throughout the day) but it results mainly from a lack of exercise, particularly resistance training. If you don't force your body to build, or even maintain, your current level of muscle mass, over time, the amount of muscle on your body will decrease substantially. As the old saying goes, 'Use it or lose it!'

Research has shown that the body has a tendency to double its fat and halve its muscle mass by age 65 and this results in a dramatic decrease of the metabolism. Losing muscle as you age lowers your metabolic rate more than any other factor, more than hormones, more than nutrition, more than anything!

In order to prevent your metabolism from slowing down and therefore prevent an overweight condition as you age, you must regularly train with weights throughout your life! All it takes is a minimum of two, half-hour sessions a week and it won't cause you to 'bulk-up' as many people mistakenly believe.

Nutritional Strategies For
Preventing the Middle Age Spread

Another reason why we put on weight as we age is simply because we eat too much. As mentioned previously, preventing weight gain requires that we have an energy or calorie equilibrium or deficit. We can do this by increasing our output (exercise or metabolism) or by reducing our intake (food).

The problem many people have is that even if they maintain the same food intake as they age, the metabolic slow down that occurs as a result of sarcopenia means that they will still put on weight and therefore experience the middle age spread! As a result, they need to reduce their food intake as they age. The problem with reducing food intake is that it means you also reduce essential nutrient intake and this will affect overall body functioning.

A far better approach is to simply modify the types of foods being selected, especially the carbohydrate sources. If people have more of the low-density carbohydrates (fibrous vegetables) and less high-density carbohydrates (refined grain-based carbohydrates) they will provide their body with less energy or calories but actually more nutrients.

The Best Supplements to
Prevent the Middle Age Spread

Also, there are certain nutrients that can assist the body in utilising food more effectively and many of these nutrients are lacking in most people's diets.

An example of these are glucose disposal agents (GDAs). They help the body increase the uptake of nutrients into body cells. Examples of GDAs are the minerals chromium and selenium, as well as herbs like gymnema and cinnamon, and herbal extracts like 4-hydroxy-isoleucine, which come from fenugreek seeds.

These are great nutrients to supplement the diet with, especially as we age because they assist with weight-loss efforts, help prevent weight gain, and even help reverse diabetes!

BCN's BCN's MultiSpice contains cinnamon, which is a powerful GDA along with a range of other ingredients that can help improve your health overall.

By simply incorporating these daily disciplines into our life, we can prevent the middle age spread that is generally associated with ageing and improve our overall health and well-being at the same time.

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