Turning 40 is a milestone in every man’s life, and with it, comes an adjustment that needs to be made with your workout and diet. As you age, your metabolism slows down, meaning it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Interestingly, according to Men’s Fitness, beginning at 25, your metabolism begins its inevitable decline, at a rate of about 2% to 4% each year.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to continue gaining weight as you age; rather, it just means that you need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. A great way to preserve your metabolism? By gaining and preserving the lean muscle mass you have through exercise. “When metabolic loss happens, so does muscle loss,” says Obadike. “Between the ages of 25 and 65, you can lose at least five pounds of muscle every 10 years. But you can prevent this metabolic and muscle loss with consistent anaerobic training.”
Another great way to maintain your weight and muscle mass, is to adjust your diet by cutting out certain foods from your life that may cause you to pack on pounds. Here are three foods to avoid after you’ve hit the big 4-0.
1. Anything with sugar
Eating foods that contain large amounts of sugar can accelerate sagging and wrinkling. After 30, collagen production slows and elastin — the protein that keeps the skin firm — begins to break down, causing fine lines to form. Why eat anything that can exacerbate the signs of aging? There are a few reasons why a sugar-heavy diet makes you look older. When there is an excess of sugar in your body, it attaches itself to collagen making the skin look stiff and inflexible. According to Diet Myths Busted; Food Facts Not Nutrition Fiction by Ann A. Rosenstein, referenced in the Huffington Post, “losing this elastic resilience of young skin will give the skin deep wrinkles and make it look old.”
Additionally, after the age of 40 if you’re overweight or obese, you may be at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, says Mike Pignone, M.D. chief of the division of general internal medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to Men’s Health. New recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which is a panel of medical experts that make suggestions regarding health screenings, says that this group of men should be tested for abnormal sugar levels. The reason for this is that your body isn’t breaking down the sugar you consume properly, which can put you at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
While you may already be cutting back on candy, don’t assume that you’ve cut back on all food containing sugar. Many of your favorite foods have sweet stuff hiding in less obvious places like in ketchup, bread, and even your favorite flavored yogurts. For example, Dannon’s Fruit on the Bottom flavored yogurt line contains about 25 grams— or an entire day’s worth — of sugar in only a 6-ounce container. Satisfy your sweet tooth instead by snacking on a piece of fruit.
2. Fast food
Fast food contains a ton of bad-for-you ingredients, including sugars, bad fats, large amounts of carbohydrates, and sodium, which impacts almost every system in the body. Eating too much of it can even result in erectile dysfunction. Let’s face it: Food that you’ve been told your entire life to avoid is not going to be better for you as you get older. In addition, fast food, usually contains trans fats, which can stiffen the look of your skin and make it look inflexible. “Trans fats clog and stiffen the arteries and smaller blood vessels,” which makes the skin look old, Rosenstein wrote.
Another reason why going through the drive-through is a horrible idea? After 40, you begin to experience hormonal shifts, which means that if you consume high sodium foods like fast food, water retention becomes an issue. “It’s also a bad idea since sodium and excess fat can also harm the heart, contribute to high blood pressure and stroke risk, lower bone mineral density, and lead to bone loss,” says Elisa Zied, MS, RD to ABC News.
The effects of drinking alcohol hit you harder once you reach your 40s. As we age, the body doesn’t metabolize alcohol as effectively because your body composition and liver function start to change as early as your 30s. When this happens, you tend to lose muscle mass, while fat content increases. All of this combined with the fact that people have less total body water as they age, and you’ll end up having more alcohol circulating in your blood stream, which can lead to sleepless nights and junk food cravings, says registered dietitian Martha McKittrick to Eat This.
“It’s also increasingly difficult to get a good night’s rest with alcohol in your system. While you may have been able to get away with minimal sleep in your 20s, that’s not the case in your 30s and beyond. Sleepless nights lead to carb and sugar cravings the next day, which can contribute to further weight gain,” explains McKittrick. Additionally, alcohol makes you look older because it sucks all the moisture out of your skin, which can temporarily make fine lines appear more noticeable. Over time, if you continue to booze, your skin loses elasticity and your skin can wrinkle.
“All of the effects of alcohol are sort of amplified with age,” says David W. Oslin, a professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, to The Wall Street Journal. “Withdrawal is a little bit more complicated. Hangovers are a little bit more complicated.” Add this to all the other lifestyle changes that come with age — family, more work-oriented lives, and the consistent use of medications (both prescriptions and over-the-counter), which as you get older you’re more likely to take — and your chances increase for a dangerous booze-drug mixing.