An article that was published in the New York Times discussed reasons that women have more difficulty losing weight as they age.
As we get older, we lose muscle mass. Our peak muscle mass is in our 30's, and after that, our lean muscle gets replaced with fat. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the less muscle mass, the lower our metabolism will be. A lower metabolism results in a lower caloric need to maintain weight. Therefore, if your caloric intake remained the same, over time, it would result in weight gain.
Menopause, accompanied by decreased levels of estrogen and testosterone, adds to these changes in metabolism. Many women believe that hormone replacement causes postmenopausal weight gain, but studies do not confirm that women who take hormones gain more weight than those who do not. Average weight gain in menopause is about 5 pounds.
Dr. Leslie Cho, a cardiologist from the Cleveland Clinic, noted that women who have lost weight will have a lower metabolism than women of a similar weight that have not lost weight. The reason for this is that fat cells hold on to calories consumed because they have been starved previously. So women who have lost weight, will have even lower metabolic rates.
As we age, physical ailments such as arthritis and joint pain may make exercise more difficult, and some people become more sedentary.
Dr. Cho recommends a healthy lifestyle for older women, focusing on fitness and healthy eating, rather than attempting to achieve a particular weight loss goal. Weight training that increases muscle mass will increase metabolism at rest, and aerobic activity will also burn calories. A combination of weight training and aerobic activity, along with healthy eating choices are the recommended combination to maximize good health.
The New York Times: Is It Harder to Lose Weight When Your're Older?
by Karen Weintraub, March 31, 2017