Yeah getting older is great, we are a bit wiser, smarter & have a little more money than in our twenties, but the flipside is that you also get fatter, grumpier, hormonal and lazier!
As a 45-year-old mum of 4 and a nutrition & fitness professional, I’m not afraid to admit that my abs aren’t as tight as they used to be. I have a lower tummy that isn’t as flat after having 4 c-sections, I can’t knock back calories the way I used to, and I can’t hold my drink anymore! But, I’m here to advise you on how we can put dietary & physical changes in place, so things don’t get out of control. There is hope – we can get our bodies back. I can still wear a bikini and look ‘fairly’ respectable.
In part one of this blog post, I will be outlining why our once youthful, tight bodies are moving south. I’m going to talk about how female hormones influence our body composition during the specific stages of life.
Firstly, it’s important to realise that if you are overweight, don’t blame everything on hormones, medication, age and genetics like your ‘mammy’s big bones’. Take responsibility. Are you in a calorie deficit? Are you moving regularly as well as strength training with weights in a gym? Do you do both consistently? If not, then start implementing these methods as they will fix your weight problem and make huge improvements to your health. More will be addressed in part two of this blog post. If you are still intrigued and want to learn more regarding your un-harmonious hormones, and why they are making you fatter, then let’s get on with it.
The king hormone that reigns supreme over fat storage. It is largely governed by carb intake & overconsumption of food. Over consumption of carbs will drive more cravings for sugary foods. For the average individual who does little to no exercise & over eats, insulin will increase & remain high. If your goal is fat loss, avoid over consumption of calories and carbs. Avoid repeated insulin spikes by eating lower carb, slower digesting whole foods & ditch processed carbs.
Nearing menopause, oestrogen levels drop, whilst testosterone levels are maintained leaving a smaller ratio. This imbalance coupled with the fact women lose muscle mass during this time results in reduced sensitivity to insulin, which leads to fat storage in the tummy area.
This hormone governs our metabolic rate. It is sensitive to VLCD (very low calorie diets), excessive exercise, lack of carbs in the diet and it changes other hormones in the body. For example, during menopause, lack of oestrogen is linked to fat gain. So, if you have plateaued with weight loss, thyroid may be reduced, which in turn lowers body temperature, causing sluggishness and less physical activity.
Leptin & Ghrelin
Our satiety & hunger hormones have a profound impact as we get older. Due to the drop in oestrogen production in menopause, our sensitivity to leptin’s hunger messages is reduced and the effectiveness of ghrelin is also decreased.
The stress hormone, released in response to physiological and physical stress in order to free energy store to be burned. Generally speaking, as we get older we are less active. have less lean muscle tissue and don’t have the benefits of insulin sensitivity due to the oestrogen drop. It also appears that older women are more stress reactive, suffering a greater release of the stress hormone. These factors may shift the body into a fat storing mode, triggering increased food intake and making it more likely to overeat in calories and gain body fat.
In part two, I will outline how to improve your body composition when entering your middle age and improving hormone balance.