Nearly everyone faces a disconcerting body thickening and slow rise in weight in their 40s, even people who have always been slim, who eat a healthy diet, and who exercise regularly. In fact, body fat typically doubles between the ages of 20 and 50. Sometimes diet and exercise really isn’t enough! What’s happening to our bodies?
For women, a major calorie-burning process grinds to a halt after menopause. The metabolic rise in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle accounts for 15,000–20,000 calories per year. Those calories really start to add up when the menstrual cycle stops. Further, women tend to develop more abdominal fat as estrogen levels are reduced. For men, lower testosterone levels caused by andropause leads to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat storage. Research shows that with age, men burn less fat during exercise, so older men actually need to work out longer to lose weight!
Healthy lifestyle changes are critical to achieve long-term weight loss goals, but it often takes more at mid life. Whole herbs are an ideal choice for weight loss after 40. They are not habit forming like stimulant anti-obesity drugs, and they support natural weight loss processes, like thermogenesis.
Thermogenesis’ Role in Weight Loss Over 40
Thermogenesis is all about fat burning. About 75% of the calories you eat work to keep you alive and support your resting metabolic rate. The balance of calories are stored as white fat, or burned up by brown adipose tissue (brown fat), your body’s premier fat burning factory. The more active your brown fat is, the more efficient your thermogenesis is, and the easier it is to maintain an optimum weight. Differences in brown fat activity explain why some people can overeat and stay slim, while others put on the pounds even though their diet and exercise plan is sound.
Starting in our early 40s, a genetic timer begins to slow down the thermogenic mechanism. Instead of calories being burned off, more of them get stored as white fat, leading to weight gain, especially around the middle. In addition, some people are simply not born with enough brown fat. These people gain more weight at middle age because the little brown fat they do have is reduced even further. Nature in her wisdom provides a solution. You can reactivate your brown fat activity after 40, and using thermogenic herbs is a key.
Fat Burning Herbs: The Good & Bad News
Most of us have heard of the herb, ephedra as a thermogenic aid to stimulate weight loss. Unfortunately, misuse and abuse of ephedra in highly concentrated, chemical ephedrine products has led to cardiovascular side effects and health risks for consumers. Today, ephedra is banned from use in dietary supplements in the U.S. But, ephedra is not the only herb that stimulates brown fat activity. Green tea, mustard seed, cinnamon and ginger are a few other thermogenic herbs that you can use without the side effects or health risks.
As a traditional herbalist, I only formulate with whole herbs, because they are much less likely to produce side effects or interactions than standardized herbs or highly concentrated herbs. Further, whole herbs in combination offer the advantage of addressing multiple body systems and needs. For “after 40” weight loss concerns, I combine thermogenic whole herbs with herbs that control appetite and sugar cravings, and herbs that relieve bloating. Whole herbs support the whole person.
Losing weight at mid life does present new challenges, but once the body adjusts to its new hormone levels, weight gain stabilizes, and becomes more manageable. Whole herbs can help you get over an “after 40” weight loss plateau, and have the added benefits of improving body chemistry and reestablishing better metabolic rates.
To Life-long health,