Weight no more, that battle of the bulge can be beaten
Paper Edition | Page: 14
It is a sad fact that ageing and weight gain are like two sides of the same coin. On top of wrinkles, hair loss and long-sightedness, the middle-age spread sneaks up on us the moment we hit 40. Without realizing it, we start to gain weight around the belly and coupled with poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle, our waistlines start to expand quite rapidly.
Our metabolic rate slows down as we age because of hormonal changes. In both men and women, estrogen levels dip; this reduces the body’s metabolic rate and directs the distribution of fat to the tummy area. The concentration of fat around the midriff is especially dangerous, as it is close to our vital organs and can lead to heart disease.
But there is no escape, even for people who are naturally slim, as they too will experience a thickening waist as they age if they do not make changes in their lifestyle.
“Two muffins eaten at the age of 30 will not have any visible effect on the waistline. The muffins will be broken down to glycogen and will be burned off as calories. But once you hit 40, the slowdown in the metabolic rate means that more of the food will be converted to fat molecules, as we do not need to store so much glycogen,” said Dr Jam Sou Lai, my family doctor for the last 20 years.
The good news is that we can beat the middle-age bulge. For one, start moving. Yes, exercise. At least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Cardiovascular exercises will strip off the fat and strength or resistance training will convert the fat into muscle and increase the metabolic rate. According to researchers from Colorado State University, women who lifted weights were still burning more than 50 percent more fat 16hours after the workout ended than those who did nothing.
Nutrition is another key factor that is often neglected or misunderstood. Many people think they can eat to their heart’s content as long as they exercise regularly. But this is a dangerous fallacy that has often led many frustrated fitness buffs to abandon their exercise. Focus on natural foods, such as complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber and low in fat.
Processed foods such as cookies, cakes and potato chips are high in fat, sodium and preservatives. Opt instead for fruit, vegetables and lean protein, which are rich in nutrients. Also, eat in moderation, several times a day, as it staves off hunger and binge-eating.
Enjoy life. Learn to let go and forgive. The stress hormone cortisol and adrenalin are secreted whenever we are stressed. Though an adrenalin rush allows us to confront problems head-on, the side effect is that the fat and glucose created will be stored in the belly. As time goes on, the fat accumulates and the belly gets bigger.
Ageing is inevitable, but not so with the middle-age spread. We have the tools and know-how to fight the battle of the bulge. What’s stopping you?
Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.