Why do we get heavier as we get older?

Why do we get heavier as we get older?

by Teo Kai Wen 23 Feb 2020

As we age, the number on the scale seems to taunt us – no matter what exercises we do or diets we try, the numbers just seem to go up. But what’s the real reason why we gain more weight as the years pass?


As we age, the changes taking place in our bodies may be so slow that we don’t notice them at all. For instance, the many years spent typing away at a desk job can lead to gradual losses in both flexibility and mobility.


Age also brings with it responsibilities, whether our own or that of our partners or children. Shouldering these burdens can take its toll over time, leading to an increase in stress levels and a decrease in sleep, both of which contribute to weight gain over time.


The biggest reason for weight gain with age, however, it probably the natural muscle loss known as sarcopenia we experience over time. Since the amount of lean muscle mass a person has is the primary determinant of their resting metabolic rate, less muscle means less calories burnt, and more weight being piled on if caloric intake remains constant.


Despite ageing being a non-reversible process, preventing this state of affairs from taking place or at the very least minimising its impact can be achieved with three simple steps:


  1. Engage in progressive weight training at least two times a week.
  2. Consume enough dietary protein (1.5-2g/kg of bodyweight)
  3. Get plenty of quality rest (~ 8 hours)


Gaining weight as you age is a perfectly natural process, and isn’t necessarily the result of unhealthy habits of your own. By making simple changes to your personal habits, you can slow this process and live a healthier, longer and more fulfilling life.