I looked at the test results again…looked back at the doctor.
“So, you’re telling me if I do the same amount of exercise as my younger brother, and eat the exact same food, I’ll be 2 kilos heavier than him by the end of this year?”
The doctor took his glasses off, cleaned them and looked up, slightly sheepishly…
“That’s the joy of getting old I’m afraid.”
As we start to age we tend to have a dawning realisation that what worked for us at 20 will not cut it for us anymore.
And unfortunately, we’re absolutely right…
To take just one example…
When James Cracknell was taking part in the Oxford & Cambridge Boat race he was more than 20 years older than his team mates.
As part of the training they all had their metabolic rate tested. This basically told them how many calories they needed at rest per day to simply survive…how many calories they’d burn just sat on the sofa doing nothing all day.
At 46 he clocked in at 1270 calories a day. The average of his teammates, who had an average age of 22, was 2380 calories a day.
If he did the same training and ate the same food as his team mates, it was as if he were consuming an addition Big Mac every day.
Simply put, this means if you, at age 40, were to follow the same training and nutrition plan as you did at 30, which at 30 maintained your weight perfectly…at 40 you could expect to put on 3.5 kg’s a year.
This was the exact same test I ran with my younger brother, with similarly depressing results.
And that’s not all. Fat is not a single molecule but instead is made up of a number of different molecules and sub systems. The exact % of these molecules and sub systems gives us a general fat configuration.
Fat configuration changes as we get older.
So if you’re trying to lose weight when you’re 20 years old, you are dealing with a totally different configuration of fat to what you are dealing with at 40. And often the configuration you have at 40 makes it much harder to drop weight and is likely to cause a lot more inflammation across your entire body than the configuration you have at 20.
If you’ve cycled weight in the past it gets even harder…
Every time you lose a significant amount of weight the configuration of your fat changes again. To a configuration which makes it harder to lose weight in the future.
This doesn’t mean it’s inevitable we will get fat and sedentary as we get older. It just means we have to manage our bodies differently if we want to keep using them to do all the cool stuff we want to do into our ripe old age.
(I know people who are 90 and still kitesurf, mountain bike or even BASE jump most days.
Instead this biological breakdown is often simply a case of mis management of resources as we get older….of focussing on the wrong things, of not understanding the basic input/output pathways of the human body.
Once you know what to focus on you can turn this around and beat the “natural” decline.
So for example, as a 20 year old losing weight for the first time, almost any diet will work for you. You could count calories, macros or points, you could eat Keto, Carnivore, Vegan or Paleo and you will lose weight.
Often at 40+ the same diet will lead you to gain weight.
Ok great so what can we do about it?
Unfortunately the answer is not simple and there’s no one thing which will necessarily work. We often have to approach the problem from a number of different angles.
But to give you an example, very often with working with a client who is struggling to lose weight on a traditional diet, one of the methods I will use is to INCREASE the amount of calories eaten (ensuring these calories come from highly nutritious food).
Because sometimes the first thing we have to do is increase the persons metabolic rate to a level where it is actually possible to lose weight. Eating more can achieve this.
Also very often despite eating way too much, people are actually starving, as they are eating such nutrient poor foods their body simply isn’t getting what it needs and so keeps them hungry in the hope they will eat something it can actually use.
By filling them full of nutrient dense foods, and encouraging them to eat more in the short term, their metabolic rate rises and their body has all the nutrients it needs. At this point, very often, appetite drops to way below what it was initially.
Now sometimes this doesn’t work, but that leads me to my next point…
Losing weight, especially if you’re a bit older and it isn’t your first time, requires a VERY different approach, often an approach totally unique to the individual. As factors such as:
- Is there a history of diabetes in the family?
- How many times have you lost weight in the past?
- Have you followed any diets long term, which diets?
- Spent long periods fasting?
- Done a lot high intensity exercise or low intensity high rep exercise?
…and a whole host of other things will play into how we shape your individual weight loss plan (and the fact that most cookie cutter style diet plans do not factor these things in, is why most of them will not work).
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in losing weight and keeping it off, check out my 1 on 1 coaching program.
We’ll change your fat configuration back to that of a young person, increase your metabolism and tailor a plan unique to you. So you can lose the weight and KEEP IT OFF and it’s all designed to be done in the real world. (ie. it doesn’t require you to make massive lifestyle changes, spend hours on food prep or in a gym every day)