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What’s Going on with Your Metabolism and Body Composition after 40?

You may have noticed putting on weight or just seeing your body composition change: less butt, but more belly fat and you’ve probably heard or been told:

"This is a normal part of aging."

"You have to get used to it."

"Your metabolism isn't what it used to be."

Both lifestyle (nutrition, muscle building) AND hormone changes impact how your body composition changes in your 40s and beyond. 

It is not simply calories in, calories out OR just hormones. Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Many women continue to gain weight (usually in the midsection) DESPITE eating well and exercising regularly. With my clients, this is when I look at their hormone levels: low estrogen, high cortisol and insulin (and hypothyroid function) can definitely cause weight gain especially around the midsection. But your hormones are not everything: you also need to make sure that you increase your muscle mass in order to keep your metabolism up. 

That’s why these long cardio workouts that you’ve been putting in are really not serving you anymore and definitely not helping you to lose weight. On the contrary, they actually add on to your stress load and further increase your stress hormone, so they actually CONTRIBUTE to your weight gain

When we are told to eat less and exercise more to compensate for the weight gain, don’t listen to these people, they don’t know what they’re talking about!

So what's driving this annoying change in our body composition? Is it our metabolism? Is it our hormones?

Does Your Metabolism Really Go Down with Age?

Well, if you consider that you lose muscle mass as you age, then yes, your metabolism is slowing down as you age. 

We were taught that as children, our metabolism is elevated and reaches a peak in our mid-20s. And if you don't consider WHY that is, it does seem true...

Have a look at this study, that explains it well and proves wrong the theory that it's all about fate:

This study looked at the effects of age, sex, and body composition on total body expenditure and other components of metabolism. What they found was that participants over 60 had an increase in body fat mass and also a decrease in energy expenditure (which is basically the logical result of more body fat).

So you can basically conclude that the higher your body fat mass, the lower your metabolism - or rather the higher your fat-free mass, the higher your metabolism.

And that means that the higher your muscle mass, the higher your metabolism and the lower your chance to gain weight in perimenopause and menopause. 

Isn’t this great news ladies? It means it’s all in your hands!

Ok now before you run off pushing those weights, bear with me just a bit longer, because as you’ve probably guessed: that’s not all…

Yes, your metabolism will dictate how many calories you burn, but why you’re putting on a muffin top rather than having a bigger butt or thighs is more down to your hormones. Well actually testosterone does play an important role in the accumulation of muscle mass so it does play a role in your metabolism but that muffin top? It’s your hormones cortisol, insulin and estrogen!

As I explained in previous articles, during perimenopause and menopause, your cells become more insulin resistant as a natural consequence of aging, but also due to a decline of estrogen. It means that energy cannot enter into your cells anymore or a lot less energy is entering than before. That’s why you feel tired all the time and have to eat frequently and as if that wasn’t enough, it also increases your fat production and accumulation in the liver. This is one of the reasons why women see their cholesterol levels increase in perimenopause and menopause despite "doing everything the same." 

When your ovaries stop producing estrogen, your body will continue to make your estrogen from fat cells and that’s why it’s trying to accumulate visceral fat - to make more estrogen. So providing your body with enough estrogen is key to keeping away the muffin top. 

Your body composition literally changes during menopause where your body will preferentially begin to accumulate fat on your organs versus accumulating fat under your skin. And that’s the type of fat accumulation that’s dangerous for your health: it puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 Diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, and stroke.

Visceral fat is not only incredibly inflammatory, it also leads to premature aging of your cells, tissues, and organs, and generally makes you feel awful. Yep, there you have the peri feeling…

Ok but enough about the scaremongering here: as I said: it’s in your hands! 

You can do all this:

Not sure how to do this alone? Book a free clarity call with me to discuss how I can help you achieve all this!


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