5 Reasons It’s Harder to Lose Weight with Age


You’re doing the same thing you always do, trying to eat right and exercising regularly, but the pounds are piling up and the struggle to hold your waistline gets harder and harder. Hence, is it really becoming tough to stay fit as we get older?

As we hit our 30s, our bodies generally require less energy, which means we may not be able to do that and are more able to eat as we did in our 20s. As you hit 40 and into middle age, changes in muscles, hormones and metabolism make it harder to stay in shape but it’s not a lost cause.

By understanding how your body is changing, you can work on controlling your weight more effectively. Sure, you can take your weight and slow your metabolism down at your age, but the truth is, if you take a few precautions, your body and metabolism can get back in shape. Now it’s time to stop believing that weight gain is an inevitable part of aging. Yes, our hormonal balance changes in a way that promotes weight gain.

For example, testosterone and DHEA levels drop in men and insulin-regulating hormones become less effective in women. These changes can decrease muscle mass, slow your metabolism (some reports put it at about 2 percent per decade after age 30), and drain your energy, while belly fat and insulin resistance increase. It’s not useless! The more we eat clean, live clean, and exercise, the better our hormone balance becomes, and the healthier our metabolism stays.

Eat More Protein

Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle wasting, is thought to be inevitable, but much of its severity depends on diet and exercise. Protein can help! One study found that men and women between the ages of 70 and 79 who ate the most protein lost 40 percent less muscle mass than those who ate the least protein. Muscle burns more calories, increase insulin sensitivity, and maintains testosterone production so you can ward off fatigue-related health problems, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and loss of libido.

Exercise Regularly and Increase Your Intensity

Many people simply give up exercising as they get older; then they turn around and blame their slow metabolism on their hormones. The reality is we have to. Your body needs exercise as much as it needs oxygen and water. It’s crucial to maintain muscle mass as you age: a pound of muscle burns three times as many calories as a pound of fat, and muscle absorbs blood sugar and improves your body’s insulin sensitivity.
Try to challenge yourself and increase your workout by adding 20 minutes of resistance training or increasing the incline of the treadmill. Keep strengthening your muscles so you burn more calories.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Many chemicals and preservatives are present in our food. Things like pesticides, growth hormones, trans fats, HFCS, etc. have been linked to obesity and are even called “obese” within the health and wellness community. Eat your food in its most natural form as often as possible and this will have a tremendous impact on your overall metabolism.

Aging Can Be a Big Factor

It’s a fact of life: the older you get, the harder it becomes to lose weight. This can happen for a variety of reasons. From increased stress to slowed metabolism to the inevitable loss of muscle mass, losing that excess weight takes more effort and intention.

Muscle Loss

One of the main reasons why losing weight becomes more difficult with age is due to a decreased metabolism. It is estimated that after the age of 40, your metabolism will slow down by 5% every ten years.
This can occur due to muscle wasting (or sarcopenia), which plays a crucial role in maintaining your metabolism. As a result, as you age, you may not be able to maintain the same eating habits without gaining weight.

How to Improve Lean Muscle

A combination of exercise and eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods will help you maintain muscle and balanced metabolism. Include more high-protein foods like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds in your meals. You can also increase your muscle mass with regular resistance or strength training.

Increasing Fat

As you get older, not only do you lose muscle faster, but your body also retains more of a certain type of fat. The amount of brown fat, which generates heat and burns calories, decreases, and the amount of white fat, which stores excess calories, increases.

How to Burn Fat

According to research by the Endocrine Society, dieters can increase the brown fat in their bodies by exposure to cooler temperatures; However, the study was only conducted for a short period (4 months) and long-term research was inconclusive. Eating a healthy diet, foods with natural fat-burning properties and moderate exercise (ideally 2.5 hours per week) are easy ways to minimize white fat levels.

High Levels of Stress

From demanding jobs to raising children to planning retirement, our responsibilities increase as we age. As a result, we experience more stress, which leads to an increased release of cortisol, the body’s stress-response hormone. Cortisol can trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, making you more effective in life-threatening situations. Nevertheless, we encounter many moments that are not life-threatening and yet stress-inducing. This can lead to cortisol being stored unnecessarily as fat cell deposits in the body.

How to Reduce Stress

There are many ways you can reduce stress in your life: eating healthily, getting more sleep, and regular exercise.

  • Nutrition: Nuts and seeds such as cashews, pistachios, and sunflowers contain seeds vital minerals and amino acids that produce energy, synthesize proteins, and regulate the nervous system
  • Exercise: Physical activity increases endorphins, which helps improve mental status. In addition to strength training, you can go for a brisk walk or swim.
  • Sleep: If you suffer from sleep deprivation, you are more likely to be restless and stressed. Establish a consistent seven-hour sleep routine per night and reduce stress.

Weight Gain and Age: What Happens

Our muscles, hormones, metabolism, and other body systems change as we age. (In other words, it’s complicated.) But five main factors could be to blame if your jeans feel too tight these days.

1. You Experience an Age-Related Loss of Muscle Mass

The amount of lean muscle mass begins to decrease by 3-8% per decade after the age of 30, a process known as sarcopenia. You can also lose muscle if you’re less active due to age-related health problems like arthritis, or if you’ve been off for several days due to an injury or surgery. All of these [factors] individually do not cause a significant decrease, but cumulatively they do. Why is this loss of muscle mass important?
Lean muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest. If you don’t do regular weight training to maintain and build muscle, your body will need fewer calories each day. That makes it more likely that you’ll gain weight if you continue to eat the same number of calories as you did when you were young. Most people will not adjust calories. They still eat the same amount, but because they have less muscle mass to burn those calories and are less active, they gain weight over time.

2. Your Metabolism Is Slower Than Before

This decrease in muscle mass is likely slowing down your metabolism, a complex process that converts calories from food into energy. Having more fat and less muscle reduces calorie burning. Many people also become less active as they age for a variety of reasons, further reducing the number of calories burned. Not only age determines your metabolism, but your height and gender also play a role. The same is true for certain health conditions, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome, which also become more common with age.

3. They Experience Normal Hormonal Changes

According to data from the National Centre for Health Statistics, both men and women experience changes in hormone levels that explain why middle age the best time is to shed pounds gaining weight. In women, menopause, which occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, according to the National Institute on Aging, causes a significant drop in estrogenic levels that promotes extra pounds. This change in fat storage can make weight gain more noticeable and increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, fluctuations in estrogenic levels during perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause, can cause mood swings that make it harder to stick to a healthy diet and exercise schedule. As a result, the average weight gain during menopause is about five pounds.

Men, on the other hand, experience a significant drop in testosterone with increasing age. It begins to decrease gradually around age 40 at a rate of about 1 to 2 percent per year. Testosterone is responsible, among other things, for the regulation of fat distribution and muscle strength and mass. In other words, low testosterone levels can make the body less efficient at burning calories. Pituitary growth hormone (GH) production by the pituitary gland also slows down middle age. One of the many functions of GH is to build and maintain muscle mass. Hence, with less GH, it’s harder for your body to build and maintain muscle, which in turn impacts the number of calories burned. It’s a snowball effect. You start putting on more fat, you have less lean body mass; You burn fewer calories, and that adds up over time.

4. You’re Busier With Work

By the time you hit your forties and fifties, your career is probably in full swing, which is great but comes with its own life challenges of weight loss. For one thing, you might be moving less. You can commute an hour or so to and from work, sit at a desk for eight hours or more a day, and have so much on your plate that you don’t have time to walk or exercise during the workday. You may also be too busy eating lunch, which increases your chances of gulping down something from the vending machine or ordering a high-calorie takeout. Work-related stress can also work against a healthy weight. The stress hormone cortisol increases the levels of the hormone ghrelin, causing you to eat more.

5. You’re Going Through Major Lifestyle Changes

Some of the reasons for midlife weight gain have nothing to do with what’s going on inside your body, but with how it’s doing life changed as a person. One of the biggest changes comes when you start a family. Suddenly you’re spending the hour you spent in the gym after work at home with your toddler. Later, your child’s after-school time is filled with play dates, homework, and other activities that require your attention. It seems like you don’t have time for yourself anymore. As a result, your diet and exercise intentions can backfire and cause you to gain a few pounds.

Research-Based Methods to Combat Weight Gain in Midlife and Beyond

1. Reduce Your Portion Sizes

Balancing your diet to meet your body’s low-calorie needs is a gradual process. Many health experts suggest that you start by reducing 100 to 200 calories each day and adjust from there as needed. Using a calorie-counting app is one way to monitor your food intake. You’ll be amazed at the difference such a small change can make.

2. Focus On Healthy Foods

Experts recommend eating more fruits and vegetables and decreasing the amount of fast food, added sugar, and other processed foods. You should also prioritize whole foods (vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fruits) that are high in fibre. It will make it easier to control calories. These are high-volume foods (they take up more space in your stomach) and generally add fewer calories to your daily intake.

3. Stay Hydrated

It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Stay hydrated with water (rather than high-calorie beverages like sodas, fancy coffee drinks, and fruit juices) and you’ll boost your metabolism and accelerate fat loss.

4. Are You Training Your Major Muscle Groups

That loss of muscle mass you read about earlier. Fight back by adding strength training to your exercise routine. You want to preserve muscle mass as much as possible. With more muscle, you burn calories more efficiently and are more active because you have better balance and more endurance.


When we start to age, our bodies generally need less energy, which means that we couldn’t eat like when we were 20 years old. Hormones and metabolism make it difficult to stay in shape, but it is not a lost cause. By understanding how your body changes, you can effectively control your weight. Sure,
Be careful, your body and metabolism can recover easily when properly doing things.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.

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