As You Age, Your Diet Affects Your Weight More

13 February, 2019
Over the years, your body undergoes hormonal changes to save energy and your diet affects your weight more. To adapt to these shifts, your metabolism slows down and you start to gain weight, so you’ll need to modify your eating habits.

Why is it that as you get older, you find it harder to lose weight (or easier to gain weight)? This normal process, which affects millions of people, has at least one explanation. Here are some common reasons why as you get older, your diet affects your weight more and more.

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More years = more pounds?

Healthy meals diet affects your weight more as you age
Your body is evolving and changing all the time, throughout your life. Your muscles, bones, and metabolism continuously change.

The body of a 10-year-old child doesn’t work the same way as when that same person is at age 25, 40, or 65. During adulthood, you will slowly lose muscle mass and your metabolism will slow down.

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Therefore, it’s normal to see changes in your body weight and to notice that fat gets deposited in different areas than before. Additionally, it might be harder to get rid of this fat.

Your baseline energy expenditure also changes throughout each stage in your life. When you’re younger, you expend more, but this decreases over time. This is because your body becomes more efficient at using energy.

Why Your Diet Affects Your Weight More with Age

1. Your body composition changes

As you get older, you lose muscle and gain fat.

The body fat percentage of a male between 20 to 30 years old varies between 18 and 21%. Between the ages of 41 and 50 it reaches 25%, and above the age of 60, it’s higher than 26%.

For women, the same thing happens: they have between 22 to 24% body fat at 20 to 30 years old, reaching 27 to 30% between 41 and 50, and finally exceeding 31% after they turn 60.

Fat builds up naturally, while muscle mass is reduced. This is because muscle burns more energy than fat.

2. Your hormones change

Woman in park looking back smiling diet affects your weight more as you age
This not only applies to women who go through menopause, but also to adult men.

Your hormonal patterns have a lot to do with your weight because they affect whether you eat or sleep more, for example.

As you grow older, your hormones work to save energy. This is because you don’t have the same capabilities you had when you were younger. Therefore, you’re more likely to accumulate fat (especially around the waist).

This is how your body prepares itself for getting less physical activity.

It’s easier to gain weight after age 30

That doesn’t mean that you have the liberty to eat whatever you want before your 30s. Likewise, changes in your body don’t only appear in old age.

As you get older, you’ll notice your middle section enlarging and your belly might bulge. Additionally, your clothes probably won’t fit like they used to.

There’s a relationship between having more candles on your cake and gaining weight. As a result, weight gain may be unavoidable if you maintain the same eating habits as before. It’s true that your diet affects your weight more as you age. Therefore, it’s important that you adopt a healthy lifestyle long before your 30s.

The battle against obesity and being overweight gets harder as the years go by. Poor diet, stress, genetic factors, and leading a sedentary lifestyle can influence the number of pounds you gain.

Also, the use of certain medications and hormonal imbalances can cause additional weight gain. The latter is one of the main causes of fat accumulation.

After the age of 30, hormones estrogen, progesterone, and androgens don’t work the same way they used to. These hormones are essential for maintaining body mass. Consequently, it’s normal to see some changes in your hips, abdomen, or thighs.

Those sources of energy that seemed inexhaustible at age 15 or 20 disappear, and you begin to lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

If you add in work and more relaxing activities (dining out, taking a cruise, going to the movies), it results in weight gain as you age. It’s a very simple concept.

Weight gain isn’t the only change as you grow older

Person with tape measure at waist jeans diet affects your weight more with age
What if you lead a healthy lifestyle, get exercise, and eat well? You’ll need to take into account the number of calories that you need.

  • A 31-year-old woman who weighs 125 pounds, for example, will need to consume 2000 daily calories to maintain her weight.
  • That same woman at age 45 will only need 1850 calories.

If you instead continue to eat 2000 calories a day, you’ll have a surplus of 150 that adds up to about 10 pounds over six months. As a result, you need to acknowledge that diet affects your weight more as you age.

You don’t just need to think about those extra pounds that “appear” as you age, but also any diseases or conditions that begin to affect you as an adult.

This is the case of osteoporosis due to bone density loss, or osteoarthritis due to problems with the joints.

To avoid gaining weight over the years, it’s important to adapt the habits you already have to this new reality. For example:

  • Practice even more low impact exercises (yoga, pilates, swimming, etc.)
  • Reduce your intake of fat, salt, and flour
  • Avoid smoking or alcohol consumption
  • Get plenty of sleep

Finally, you need to accept that at 50 you are not going to have the same body you did at 25. In addition to more than two decades going by, your habits are different and your body has changed accordingly. Your diet affects your weight a whole lot more, so it’s necessary to eat less and exercise more.


  • Wilkinson DJ., Piasecki M., Atherton PJ., The age related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function: measurement and physiology of muscle fibre atrophy and muscle fibre loss in humans. Ageing Res Rev, 2018. 47: 123-132.
  • Moro T., Tinsley G., Bianco A., Marcolin G., et al., Effects of eight weeks of time restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strenght, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance trained males. J Transl Med, 2016.