Why is it that once we get to the age of 30 or 40 we seem to gain weight a lot faster than any other time in our life? Even people who have been skinny their whole lives, begin to pack on the pounds once they reach this age. Why is that? There is an explanation for this, and the good news is it can be reversed.
This weight gain is due largely to the natural slowing down of the metabolism as we age. This is how people seem to gain weight even when they haven't really changed their eating habits. Their metabolism has slowed down over time, and they can no longer burn off all of the energy they are consuming. This creates a calorie surplus, which in turn results in weight gain.
The speed of our metabolism is directly related to our muscle mass. The more muscle we have, the faster our metabolism will be. Think of how easily a V8 burns through fuel, as opposed to a scooter. The same basic principle applies. The larger the engine, the more energy it burns, even while sitting at the lights. (I got confused now, I don't know if I'm talking about cars or people! I think you get what I'm saying)
The reason our metabolism slows down as we age is simply due to us losing muscle. After the age of 20, we begin to lose approximately a pound of muscle mass a year. Even people who regularly exercise lose approximately 1/2 pound of muscle mass a year.
Every extra pound of muscle we add, burns an extra 50 calories a day. So, if you were to lose 15 pounds of muscle mass over 20 years, that could mean you are burning 750 calories less a day.
The general knowledge is that a pound of fat equals 3500 calories. So taking the example from above, if this person were to eat the same as they always did, they could now be eating 750 calories more than they need a day. This could equate to approximately 1 1/2 pounds of fat gained a week.
Now these are really vague numbers, but I just want to show you how and why this weight gain is so easy.
So then, how do we prevent this from happening?
Easy right? Do some form of heavy strength training at least once a week, training each muscle fairly intensely is all that is required to reverse this. It will help you replace the muscle you had lost, speed up your metabolism and lose those unwanted pounds that have snuck onto your body.
If you don't really like strength training, or the gym I don't blame you. Here are three groups of exercises that train the entire body. If you train intensely enough, you would only have to do this workout once a week.
Just select one exercise from each category below to do your workout.
PUSH: Bench Press, Dumbell Press, Parallel Bar Dips, Push Ups
PULL: Chin ups, Recline Chin Ups, Lat Pulldown, Bent Over Row, Seated Row
LEGS: Squats, Deadlifts, One Leg Squats, Split squats, Leg Press
(Google these exercises if you don't know how to do them.)
If you don't like the gym here is an example workout you could do at home or the park once a week.
Parallel Bar Dips
One leg Squats
Just do as many reps as you can non stop. Only do this once. This is more than enough. To build muscle and get stronger, simply try to beat your results each time you do it. However, if you can do 20 reps straight of an exercise, its time to make it harder. Try doing one arm, add weight, a tougher variation of the exercise, anything. Just be creative and enjoy your workouts.
Before I finish, you might have already put 2 and 2 together, but strength training then is one of the best ways to prevent this weight gain from happening in the first place. It will help maintain your muscle mass, or even add a few pounds as we age so that we can stay lean, strong and vibrant. This will enable us to enjoy more of life as we age, not being bound by certain limitations.
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