As your body weight increases, so does your risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.
From age 25 onward, many factors can affect your weight. For example, parenthood or professional responsibilities may negatively impact your sleep schedule. Sleeping fewer than seven hours every night was linked with weight gain in middle-aged women in a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Packed schedules also make it easier to skip physical activity and healthy eating habits in favor of convenience.
While many external factors may influence your lifestyle choices, biological factors also play a part in creeping weight gain. Beginning at age 30, your muscle mass starts to decrease and fat storage increases. Decades later, hormonal changes and the onset of menopause in women can also cause weight gain.
A Healthy Balance
Despite the realities that everyday life and biology bring your way, you can prevent or reverse age-related weight gain by incorporating more physical activity into your schedule and eating a balanced diet filled with healthier food choices.
The 2015–2020 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans shows that you need fewer calories as you age: moderately active adults need 200 fewer calories after age 50 (women) and 65 (men) to maintain their weights.
Use nutrition labels to keep track of what you eat. Lean protein sources should be the cornerstone of each meal. Half your plate should be filled with vegetables and perhaps one fruit. Eat healthy fats, such as avocados and extra virgin olive oil. Whole grains and starchy vegetables are optional, and limit to one serving: one slice of whole-wheat bread or 1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice.
To maintain muscle mass and a healthy weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. If you can’t devote yourself to a daily 30-minute workout routine, try exercising in three 10-minute increments.
Are you having trouble reaching and maintaining a healthy weight? Talk with your doctor about setting a healthy goal and strategies to achieve it. For more information about how to eat for optimal health, visit choosemyplate.gov.