Science Says This Is The Age When It Gets Harder To Lose Weight

You're eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, so why isn't your scale budging? Even worse — why is your weight going up? As it turns out, our body chemistry has a say in our weight management as we age. Those late-night pizza pounds that melted away in your twenties without you having to break a sweat will require more sweat and some new practices to battle the bulge as early as age 30 (via The Healthy).

There are a number of reasons that aging makes it harder for us to lose weight. For one, we lose lean muscle as we age. According to Everyday Health, this process, which is called sarcopenia, is typically associated with people 65 and older but can develop earlier. Risk factors for sarcopenia include age, gender, and physical activity levels, with the risk increasing for those who suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and other health conditions (via Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism)

Losing muscle as you age is significant because muscle uses more calories compared to fat. Your body, therefore, needs fewer calories compared to when you were younger. However, many people do not adjust their calorie intake as they get older. "They keep eating the same amount, but because they have less muscle mass to burn those calories and less activity, they end up gaining weight over time," Dr. Marcio Griebeler, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Everyday Health.

Other reasons you gain weight as you age

Aside from losing muscle as you age, there are other factors contributing to those pounds sticking around. According to Healthline, a slower metabolism is a major factor for most people as they age. Also, many women going through menopause often gain belly fat due to changing estrogen levels. Increased stress related to relationships and jobs can also add weight.

The good news is that you have science-backed options to address age-related weight gain. Stay away from processed foods and focus on natural, fiber-rich foods that will fill you up. "It will make it easier to control calories as these are high-volume foods — they take up more room in the stomach — while contributing less calories to your daily intake," Rachel Lustgarten, nutritionist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, told Everyday Health. Also, start downsizing your portions and cutting between 100-200 calories from your diet to start. Stay well-hydrated, up your strength training to build more muscle, and get good sleep to help you stay relaxed and avoid stress eating.

If it turns out you're up a few pounds up and can't shake them, don't give yourself a hard time. "If it's not something that's causing a health problem, it may be fine to gain a couple pounds," Susan Weiner, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and certified diabetes educator, told Healthline. "That's part of what happens in the life cycle."