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Weight Loss Myth? Weight Gain is an Inevitable Part of Aging

It seems that weight gain is an inevitable part of the aging process. Somehow it just creeps on...and it gets more and more difficult to initiate weight loss as we age. But, are we really destined to gain weight as we get older? This article discusses the science behind muscle mass, diet, medications, and how these factors lead to the development of weight gain and obesity.

Muscle Mass

Research has found that we lose approximately 10% of our muscle mass every decade after the age of 40. But, what does this mean for weight loss? Muscle mass is a major contributor to metabolism, which helps digest food. Typically, the more muscle mass an individual has, the greater her metabolic speed, and the greater capacity that person has to either lose or maintain an ideal body weight. The slower the metabolism, the greater the propensity to weight gain, which leads to the development of obesity.

So, does this mean that we are destined to gain weight as we grow older? Not necessarily. Strength training is a technique that aids in the maintainence of muscle mass stores, and can even help to build more muscles. By participing in a strength training program as you age, you can decrease the loss of muscle mass associated with aging, and therefore help in the prevention of unwanted weight gain.

Diet

Diet plays a major role in the development and prevention of obesity. As discussed above, metabolism slows as we age--but by choosing foods that are low in fat, calories and salt, we can help to counteract this effect. While salt does not contain any calories, it can contribute to water retention. Water retention mimics weight gain, and leads to bloating which can be both unattractive and uncomfortable.

Choose foods that are naturally low in salt. In addition, it is important to realize that processed foods contain large amounts of salt, fat and calories. If you must choose one of these products, look for a variety that is low fat and has limited added salt. Finally, while these weight loss issues are a concern, diet can also play a major role on health. Salt consumption has been found to be linked to the development of arterial and cardiovascular disease.

Medications

Age we age, we tend to be prescribed medications for high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Some of these medications have unwanted side effects, including weight gain. If you have noticed recent weight gain after starting a new medication, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider. They may be able to prescribe you a new medication that doesn't have the same undesirable side affects.

In addition, it is important to remember that choosing a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be effective in treating some of these chronic conditions. By eating right and participating in a physical activity program, you may be able to quit taking some of your prescription medications.

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