Oh My,..The Dread of Middle Age Spread!
Well we all know this much don’t we, middle age spread doesn’t come in a jar, and we cannot choose to leave it on the shelf at the supermarket.
It is an inevitable fact of life and eventually it comes to us all. Middle age spread, it’s the creeping weight gain that appears as we move into our late thirties and onwards and it just loves to situate itself around our waist and/or buttocks areas. I think some see the middle age spread as a licence to give up being active and generally accept that their youthful energetic body is now a distant memory. I however do not, and have long ago taken on board the view that we are infact the new generation of 40+ and it is down to us to show that with a little more work than we once had to do, we can keep that middle age spread at bay and still be looking and feeling fantastic well into our 60′s and 70′s, so what do we do about it?
My opinion – Why do we get the Middle Age Spread?
As we get into our 40′s our muscle mass depletes through a combination of hormone decrease and lack of activity. Combine this with an increased consumption of food (calories) and you have the perfect recipe for the middle age spread. Unfortunately muscle works on the basis of “Use it or Lose it”. Muscle is highly active as an energy burner, to give you an example, 1lb of muscle requires around 14 calories per day, in comparison to 1lb of fat which requires around 2 calories per day, so it stands to reason that if you have become less active you will eventually reduce your lean body mass, therefore using less energy, which means that the excess energy will be stored as fat.
Ladies, we are at a Middle Age Spread disadvantage
Sorry to break it to you ladies but it is even tougher to stay on top of the muscle tone for us than it is for men as they naturally have more muscle in the first place.
This is evident when you look around and often see many middle aged couples where the woman is fairly overweight and the man is often leaner and slimmer. From my experience as a Trainer I have had conversations with many overweight women particularly over 40′s and when I enquire as to what exercise they do, I tend to get responses such as yoga, pilates or aqua-aerobics. Oh hold on here’s my favourite.. I walk alot! Now I am not knocking these types of exercises, especially pilates which I believe offers immense benefit, But many women do not understand the fact that they need to be combining these disciplines with other challenging cardio workouts and more importantly resistance (weight) training exercises, which are the foundation for building muscle.
Build muscle and eat sensibly to beat the Middle Age Spread
Strength training doesn’t entail lifting a 1kg pink plastic weight a couple of times either, I mean 3 sets of 15 reps with a weight that you are challenged with. So much so, that you struggle to finish the last set. Combined with sensible eating and keeping an eye on your alcohol intake you should be ale to keep that middle age spread at bay.
The Middle Age Beer Belly Spread
Gentlemen, the fact is that you naturally store far less fat than women therefore you really have the advantage here. I train quite a few male clients and many of them have come to me for weight-loss and strength training purposes. Once the men embark on a structured training and eating programme, they tend to drop fat very quickly. The main problem with male middle age spread is the classic beer belly. Even the lucky ones that have been genetically gifted and remained slim most of their adult life find it almost impossible to avoid the prominent paunch once they reach their late 30′s, unless they keep a sharp eye on their activity level and of course their diet. Remember alcohol is high in calories and encourages fat to deposit in the abdomen, even if you are exercising regularly you will sabotage your efforts if you are consuming too much alcohol. If you would like to learn more about the effects of alcohol read my blog Does alcohol make you fat?
Some Inspiration For The Men:
My own Middle Age Spread experience
I’m 41 yrs old now, I noticed that my shape started to change about four years ago. I have always had a small waist, but I started to develop fat around my stomach and I didn’t like it. I was faced with the grim realization the middle age spread was creeping up on me, I realised that I was going to have to work harder to keep my shape, the same goes for you, obviously it depends on whether it is enough of a priority. It is for me as it is essentially my livelihood but I also think it is important to have a sense of pride. Its this simple if you look great, you feel great but like anything really worth having you have to work for it, and by the time you hit 40 you are going to have to work a little harder.