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Older should mean wiser, not fatter

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Every day I’m lucky enough to speak face to face with a great variety of women and men about their health and diet problems, and each story is always fascinating in it’s own way.

One issue that seems to keep coming up is the problem of age and weight loss. As someone who is now definitely middle aged, I know as well as anyone how our bodies change and how frustrating it can be! What worked fine in our twenties suddenly seems to make us pile on the pounds later in life. A classic complaint I hear is from women who lost several stone on Weight Watchers or a similar calorie counting scheme a couple of decades ago, but now find that it just won’t work to shift their middle-aged spread.

Now, I do know two scientific certainties about age: both our metabolic rate and our levels of human growth hormone decrease. When you restrict calories in your youth, the higher metabolic rate combined with the active human growth hormone means that you can lose those extra pounds by just eating a little less. But for us oldies, the reduction in calories needs to be very dramatic to have much impact – our bodies sensibly adjust their metabolic rate to make the most of the reduced calories.

You might have some success if you team eating less with a very rigorous exercise routine, but of course age also makes this more difficult as our mobility and flexibility decrease. So shifting the emphasis from restricting calories to eating in a different way altogether is the one way to ensure a really bright, long future. I’ve been Going Lower as I get older – and I’ve never felt so young.

26 September 2008

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