The male fat trap: why you’re getting fatter as you age

As the years creep by, do you feel like you’re seriously having to dig deep and work your balls off just to stop that belly expanding?

Have you forgotten what your toes look like since you turned 40?
Even though you spent your teens and early twenties lean and in shape without much effort at all?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
It’s a scientifically-proven fact that men, as well as women, experience a natural slowing of metabolism as we get older.

(Even though – when it comes to performance and athleticism – we’d like to believe we’re the superior species.)

In fact, we hate to break it to you, but women’s metabolism doesn’t start to rapidly decline until 10 years after ours:
Unfortunately, BMR does decrease through the years – starting at about age 20, explains Sarah Calamita, a registered dietitian and board-certified sports dietitian with the East Bank Club in Chicago. Yes, that early! At first, the decline is relatively slow and steady, at about 1 to 2 percent per decade. That means that at age 30, you’d have to eat about 150 fewer calories per day to weigh what you did at age 20, she says. Then, after around age 40 in men and 50 in women, metabolic rate often accelerates its decline, according to board-certified internist and endocrinologist Brunilda Nazario, associate medical director at WebMD.” US News
Although this doesn’t mean we’re doomed. And you don’t have to spend the rest of your life gazing down at your ever-expanding gut growing into an even greater 8th wonder of the world.

The metabolic slowdown is thought, by some, to be connected to a natural decrease in testosterone levels from age 40 onwards. Scientists in Australia, however, say that it has more to do with the general health of the individual rather than an inevitable consequence of being over-the-hill.

There are some signs and symptoms you can look out for if you think you may be suffering from low testosterone – the male equivalent of the menopause, such as grouchiness, an ample chest – that has nothing to do with pec muscles (aka man boobs), and the passion-killer no hot-blooded male wants: impotence.

If you have started to gain weight, you may think it’s just a harmless few pounds, but your BMI only needs to be 20% above what it should be – for your weight and height – to be considered obese. And the health risks associated with obesity make for scary reading – even worse than failure to maintain an erection. For us men – specifically, those risks include heart attack, stroke, bowel cancer and Type II diabetes, amongst others.

Have you got your trainers on yet?

 

How to avoid getting fatter as you get older

Anyway, enough of the horror stories. The good news is, there is lots you can do to stay ahead of the game, and get your internal engine working with you instead of against you.

Just ask Wladimir Klitschko, Nick Skelton or modern-day superhero, 48-year old, Hugh Jackman.


Exercise regularly

But before you sign up to complete your first triathlon next week, there are a few cautionary tales about men over 40 taking things to the extreme. And although it’s good to push yourself a little – pushing through too many pain barriers and ignoring your body’s built-in warning system can be just as dangerous as carrying around a few extra pounds.

Slow and steady wins the race. And you’ll glean the maximum health benefits from consistently taking part in sports and other activities that you enjoy and those you can maintain long-term.

We’d also advise you, just to be on the safe side, to have a full check-up with your GP before starting any new activity. Even if you have only been out of the game for a few months.


Eat a healthy balanced diet

The more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants you feed your body – the healthier you will be, and you will keep your testosterone levels high and pumping through your body for as long as is humanly possible. More testosterone > faster metabolism = less body fat.

That means lots of fruits, vegetables and good fats, plenty of water to stay hydrated and trying to avoid eating too much sugar/ fat laden convenience foods. And try eating more eggs – as the cholesterol, which is contained in the yolk, helps the body produce more testosterone.

There are some other foods that are said to help regulate hormonal balance and help with some of the problems we discussed earlier in the article that are associated with lower than average testosterone levels.


Sleep 7-9 hours, every night

One of the best, and most under-rated, things you can do for testosterone balance – and to keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders – is to get between seven and nine hours’ sleep, every single night. If you’re getting regular exercise and eating a healthy balanced diet, sleep deprivation could be the reason why you’re still gaining weight.

You might have been able to get by on four hours sleep per night in your twenties, but those days are gone – sleep-wise anyway. These days you’re going to need to prioritise shut-eye if you want to keep giving the youngsters a run for their money.
Reduce alcohol intake

If you burn more calories than you take in, alcohol won’t directly affect whether you lose weight. But too much can have a negative effect on just about every system in your body. And as we mentioned earlier, testosterone levels are directly correlated with state of your general health. So it makes sense to limit consumption to round about the government guidelines, where possible – and have at least a couple of days each week that are alcohol free.

 

How to get out of the fat trap

So, the moral of the story is that ageing and weight gain don’t have to go hand in hand. But if you’ve struggled with your weight, emotional eating and yo-yo dieting for some time – it can be hard to change your habits and start living a healthier lifestyle: your brain has become used to choosing the sofa over the gym and greasy fry-ups instead of a juicy steak, sweet potatoes and vegetables.

We’re here, however, to tell you that with the right advice and some adjustments to the way you think about food and exercise: you can become the next Wolverine (if that is want you want!). Seriously. It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, our Living with Pirates Weight Loss Programme has all the practical tools you need to help you overcome the obstacles that have held you back before.

And nowhere in the programme do we tell you what you can and cannot eat.
Diets don’t work.
You have the freedom to choose – because we know that a little bit of what you fancy does your brain good.

 

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