Just read this amazing article in my home country paper about why we get fat in our 50’s. I thought I should share some of the content with you.
Just when you thought that baby boomers had it easy with their cheap university and roster of properties bought for a bag of avocados, It turns out that they’re hitting middle-age with some major changes in body composition.
Not just wrinkles, sagging skin and the full coverage of salt and pepper; becoming a quinquagenarian also means a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat.
Scientific Term for it all
Yes, they have a term for it, the state we find ourselves in as we become that quinquagenarian. Age-related muscle loss called Sarcopenia, which translates from Greek as a loss of flesh. This starts early, like in your 20s and 30s. nut it is most acute as we roll into our 50s.
We get that moment when we need a burst of strength and its MIA.
Sadly it is not only the loss of muscle but the accumulation of fat that goes with it, that compounds the change.
From there, there are scientific links to obesity and a specific health condition appropriately known as “sarcopenic-obesity”
Research that supports it, sadly
Associate Professor Debra Waters, Director of Gerontology Research and Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge at Otago University, is a world expert in the field of age-related muscle loss and weight gain.
She says that as muscle and bone mass declines, body fat “continues to increase and peaks around middle age [55–65], after which time it starts decreasing although visceral fat continues to increase well beyond 70 years of age.
“This is exacerbated by low physical activity, reduced mitochondria [energy producing organelles] and reduced oxidative capacity. The age-related decreases in the components of total energy expenditure [resting metabolic rates, the energy it takes to digest and absorb food and physical activity] contribute largely to the gradual increase in body fat with age.”
Additionally, there are more mitigating factors. Hormonal changes, inflammatory processes, myocellular mechanisms and changes in physical activity that all become that perfect storm. This storm impacts changes to hormone status, anorexia [loss of appetite], loss of motivation/ability to be active [due to secondary issues such as arthritis] and chronic inflammation.
The single biggest driver of muscle loss is inactivity
The age-old phrase “use it or lose it” rings true here in that you need to regularly challenge your muscles for them to stick around – and effectively hold back the fat.
And it is not just stopping the fat, but also keeping the nerves, muscles active and health that slows the rate of sarcopenia. So it is a win-win, no fat no muscle loss!!!!
“Most individuals with sarcopenic-obesity are sedentary, so that small changes in their muscle mass can markedly alter daily energy expenditure. This, in turn, exacerbates the vicious cycle of increased or stable fat mass and decreasing muscle and bone.”
“The [perhaps surprising] bottom-line is that if we stay active, we preserve our nerve cells and our nerve cells will take better care of our muscles.”
Research on exercise shows it is “irrefutable for delaying and reversing sarcopenia and sarcopenic-obesity”.
In addition to exercise, another factor that is thought to counter the effects of age-related muscle loss and weight gain is calorie restriction. Light bulb dietary planning !!!
The bottom line there is a need to exercise and be active. In the US we have statistically another 25 years once we hit 55 years old, so we need to be able to enjoy this time.
I will be adding more posts re-appropriate exercise plans and ongoing more Dietary help so that we don’t sit there wondering, Why we get FAT in our 50s.
I would love to hear your opinion on this as it is hitting home for as a former professional athlete. Please comment below.