Losing weight and gaining fat: the paradox of getting bigger that we can prevent from maturity

Biological inertia, as an individual ages, two things happen: either lose weight or its weight remains stable. But in this case, not getting fat is not an advantageous event. A person who had obesity probably still have it. It is almost certain that what you lose is muscle mass, rather than body fat, which you can even tend to increase. There are 25% of men and women who continue to gain weight beyond the age of 70, and the weight loss that was taken for granted in old age does not occur until after 85. Is there any way to challenge these natural patterns? Is it in our hands to choose what composition we want to give to our bodies?

Thinons on the outside, obese inside

Science has been unraveling for years how the body transforms through life and weight, for its role in slowing down or accelerating the pace of aging, is one of the most interesting actors in history. Changes in body composition, explains Fernando Antonio Pazos Toral, physician specializing in endocrinology and nutrition at the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital, in Cantabria, are summarized in a decrease in the lean mass of the individual, which is the cell mass of tissues and muscles, and height, as a result of the hunched and compression of

From the age of 40, the height drops almost a centimeter every 10 years, a decrease that accelerates after 70. At the end of life we may have declined between 2.5 and 7.5 centimeters, according to the gerontologists Elisa Corujo and Domingo de Guzmán Pérez. These are changes that do not go unnoticed in the mirror: less height, rounded belly and more fragile legs and arms, which have an increased risk of fracture due to the porosity of the bones. The worst part is, as muscle tissue, subcutaneous fat deposit and bone mass decrease, adipose fat is open at its widest,

If adipose tissue makes up 20% of body weight in young people, at 75 years of age it corresponds to 40%. This means that an old man, in a thin appearance, may be obese without significantly modifying his weight or body mass index, a term that, according to Pazos Toral, is misleading. And several phenomena converge in the swings of body mass (less muscle and more fat). First, there are the hormonal changes: testosterone decreases gradually in males, and in women the estrogens fall, in this case more abruptly. "They also contribute to the decrease in motor neurons, cell atrophy, increased collagen deposit, muscle fibrosis or reduced oxygen intake to muscle cells," adds the optional.

This increased fat mass tends to be deposited in tissues and visceral area, especially in the abdomen. When this deposit predominates over muscle mass appears a type of obesity that we call sarcopene, which is the sum of excess adipose tissue plus muscle wasting. The phenomenon is very common; obesity rates above 70% in those over 65,

The panorama described by Pazos Toral is not too flattering: "Activity is lower and the risk of muscle injury and fall or accident is increasing, something that is aggravated when there is also a disease, flaking, use of certain drugs or hospital admissions occur. The immediate consequence is increased dependence due to an increased risk of fragility and lower motor capacity, which is usually accompanied by metabolic diseases and other disorders."

A better way to deal with fat

With this panorama, it takes a lot of stoicism to want to earn years on life. However, before all this happens, the expert clarifies that there is another very different rhythm of aging, one that is based on two axes: exercise and diet, always taking into account that making any changes in nutritional guidelines or physical activity at these ages should count on the evaluation of a professional. "You have to be very cautious about your possible interference in medications or other factors," your doctor, says

The physical exercise can reverse, at least for a large extent, the aforementioned harmful effects, especially if it is moderate aerobic activity. These are just a few benefits from a long list: it also increases energy expenditure and muscle capacity, improves hormonal and metabolic profile, consumes fat and increases protein synthesis. The risk of inflammation and the appearance of fatty hormone toxics is reduced. In addition, they improve blood vessels at the peripheral level, favoring muscle irrigation and respiratory and cardiac capacity,

The endocrinologist adds to the previous advice general recommendations that do not vary too much with respect to the adult population, such as ingesting at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight (fish, white meat and vegetable source); 50 grams of legumes or the like; do not exceed 30 grams of processed sugars per day; drink little salt; consume processed and red meat in moderation; and eat dairy products regularly, if tolerated


In terms of frequency of intake, Pazos Toral advises make several simple meals a day, adjusting calories and proteins so that they are suitable for a balanced diet with all nutrients. Only if necessary should it be advisable to supplement with micronutrients such as iron and B vitamins. The endocrinologist remembers that the egg is a good cheap protein when it cannot be replaced with others in cases where it has a reduced economic capacity.

In some older people the conditions lead to so-called aging anorexia, or involuntary weight loss. A study coordinated by cardiologist Jenna McMinn warns of its adverse effects: infections, poor wound healing, decubitus ulcers, worse response to medical treatment and an increased risk of mortality. Its origin is very diverse, from aftermath of a drug to emotional problems, isolation or end-of-life paranoia,

Paradoxically, the body of some elders appreciates a slight overweight to overcome some diseases that tend to evolve into weight loss, such as cancer or kidney, heart or liver failure. "But this should not divert attention from the fundamental problem, which is the worsening quality of life if there is obesity and the risk posed by the worsening metabolic situation without control," he nuances. Let us not lose sight of the spain boasts of being the second longest-serving country in the world,