Many women, especially as approaching middle age may have heard the phrase ‘middle age spread’. Well unfortunately there is some truth and science to back the phenomena.
As we age there is a natural loss of muscle mass, about 1/2lb yearly after the age of 30 and up to 1lb yearly after the age of 50. That alone will start to decrease metabolism, but if the wasn’t enough as women approach and enter menopause they experience reduced estrogen levels, and lower quality of sleep. Add these three culprits together and its a recipe for a slower metabolism, increased body fat, particularly abdominal fat, and hence ‘the middle age spread’. This will occur if you maintain your lifestyle and don’t make some changes accordingly to try to counteract the reduction in metabolism.
This can be done by three somewhat easy ways, although not always easy to execute, you need to to try harder than when you were younger, sorry ladies. Firstly, eat less, this doesn’t mean starvation or fad diets, you need to check in with your portions, you are eating for a lower number of metabolic calories needed through the day so adjustments need to be made, and ensure you are getting quality macronutrients, complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats. Also watch the sugar, alcohol, and fat intake, these bad boys pack a large calorie punch and not reducing these will derail your efforts. Secondly, move more, easy right? If you don’t strength train, start, if you do, add some more. Just increase your calorie expenditure through both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, from what you were doing before. Lastly, focus on improving quality of sleep, lack of or broken sleep causes weight gain. The increased exercise and cleaner diet should help, and adding relaxation therapies like yoga and meditation have been shown to improve sleep. If needed you might want to try natural supplements like magnesium that may help somewhat.
So yes ‘middle age spread’ is real but can be counteracted with some changes to your lifestyle; eat less, move more, sleep well! These changes will be beneficial for your overall health as you age, reducing risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.