Unfortunately as you get older multiple factors typically combine to create an imbalance:
- Your metabolism slows down
- You become less active
- You eat more
Your metabolism starts slowing down after age thirty and levels off in your seventies. There is a 40% to 50% decline in muscle mass over this period which leads to a corresponding slowing of your metabolism. Scientists refer to this as sarcopenia and whilst they don’t all agree on the causes this decline is well established. This means that you will burn less calories.
If you’re anything like me, you take things a little easier as the years go by. When I was younger I walked frequently and drove rarely; I played sports and rode my bike. But things change. Maybe you live too far away from your job to walk and there is a cafeteria in your office. You become too busy building a career or looking after your kids to find time for sports. And you watch TV to relax at the end of the day. You’re just not as active as you used to be.
And its easy to end up eating more. Now you can afford to eat out more and the portion sizes are larger than they used to be. Eating out is your primary way to socialize with friends. You eat snacks in front of the TV. It seems like there’s a kids party every other week and there is always cake. Your daily routine involves one or more trips to Starbucks for a hand crafted beverage and a snack from the pastry case. You’re just eating more than you used to.
Quantifying the gap
So if you want to manage your weight you need to understand your calorie intake and calorie expenditure. Armed with that information you can make informed choices – splitting that desert with a friend just may not be enough to make a real difference.